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The $1.3 trillion spending package passed by the House of Representatives Thursday afternoon has been discovered to include several measures highly beneficial to immigrants and illegal aliens.

Two Twitter posts from pro-immigrant attorney Daniel Costa, Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research at Economic Policy Institute expressed his delight at the “silver linings” found in the spending bill.

According to Costa, and a report he shared from VOX, major benefits to immigrants and illegal aliens include:

  • Funding to sanctuary cities is not restricted
  • ICE chided for overspending, detention funding limited
  • The H-2B guest worker program is expanded – up to approximately DOUBLE the annual cap of 66,000
  • Border wall funding not included, only limited fencing and other “border security” projects.

“Silver linings in the omnibus: no restrictions on funding targeting sanctuary jurisdictions and no funding to expand ICE detention,” Costa tweeted Thursday.

In another Twitter post, Costa wrote, “Employers got their H-2B guestworker program expansion in the #omnibus – same as FY 2017, gives DHS discretion to increase the size of the program, up to nearly double the annual cap of 66,000. See page 1760: https://t.co/nDmEiR1l31.”

H-2B foreign visa guest worker program cap expanded. Breitbart report on the actual wording in the bill which Costa refers to:

The pre-election giveaway is buried on page 1760 of the 2232-page 2018 omnibus bill, where language allows the Department of Homeland Security to greatly expand the size of the H-2B visa-worker program up to roughly 100,000 imported workers:

SEC. 205. Notwithstanding the [66,000] numerical limitation set forth in section 214(g)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(g)(1)(B)), the Secretary of Homeland Security, after consultation with the Secretary of Labor, and upon the determination that the needs of American businesses cannot be satisfied in fiscal year 2018 with United States workers who are willing, qualified, and able to perform temporary nonagricultural labor, may increase the total number of aliens who may receive a visa under section 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b)) in such fiscal year above such limitation by not more than the highest number of H–2B nonimmigrants who participated in the H–2B returning worker program in any fiscal year in which returning workers were exempt from such numerical limitation.

The jargon gives the green light to Senators and Representatives to pressure DHS leaders to hand out more H-2B visas to the politicians’ local employers.

ICE admonished for overspending. Regarding funding for ICE, Vox gleefully reported the following two observations:

  • Trump wanted 1,000 new ICE agents; he’s getting barely 100, and none of them are the field agents responsible for arresting unauthorized immigrants. (Instead, ICE is getting more staff for investigations and mission support.)
  • The omnibus gives ICE money to keep an average of 40,520 immigrants in detention on any given day. In order to meet that target (and “live within their means”), they’ll have to start detaining fewer immigrants than that by the end of the fiscal year.

Vox shared the following text, reportedly taken from the spending bill, in which Congress tells ICE to start “living within its means.”

As the explanatory text for the omnibus shows, Congress is not pleased:

Between October 1, 2017, and the date of enactment of this Act, when the Department was operating under the terms of a continuing resolution (CR), ICE exceeded its annualized rate of funding for Custody Operations. During the period of any future CR, including any CR for fiscal year 2019, ICE is directed to manage its resources in a way that ensures it will not exceed the annualized rate of funding for the fiscal year. ICE is directed to update the Committees weekly on its rate of operations for Custody Operations to demonstrate how the agency is living within its means.

Border Wall Funding – Vox reports: The bill specifically prevents the Trump administration from using any of the new wall designs it commissioned and tested in California last year. All money has to be spent on “operationally effective designs deployed as of the date of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017” — a bill Trump signed on May 5, 2017.

They’re appropriating $445 million for 25 miles of levee fencing in the Rio Grande Valley (and another $196 million for an unspecified amount of regular pedestrian fencing there); $251 million to replace 14 miles of existing secondary fencing in the San Diego sector; and $445 million to replace an unspecified amount more of pedestrian fencing. 

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