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Bipartisan Leaders: Still a Chance for Immigration Reform Under Trump

Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan group, including former elected and administration officials, today issued a series of immigration policy reform ideas that may be possible through collaboration between Congress and the incoming Trump administration.

Still Room for Consensus is a product of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force. The group, co-chaired by former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Henry Cisneros, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, and former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, see a potential for bipartisan immigration reform during the Trump administration and make recommendations on policies that can gain consensus, including securing the borders, addressing the unauthorized population, and adjusting future immigration levels. The Task Force endorses the changes when taken together, but recognizes it is up to Congress and the administration to determine how to best proceed legislatively.

Among the group’s recommendations are:

  • A probationary period, leading to legal status, for currently-unauthorized immigrants who meet fair and rigorous requirements, provide proof of continuous presence in the United States, criminal background checks, and payment of a fine.
  • Mandatory electronic employment verification and stronger sanctions for employers who knowingly hire or employ unauthorized immigrants under the table.
  • Investment in a full biographic entry-exit system, including collection of biometric data where feasible.
  • Robust tracking and reporting by an independent entity on metrics that demonstrate whether the border is secure and how effectively tax dollars are being spent on immigration enforcement.
  • Greater cooperation between federal agencies and state and local law enforcement to apprehend dangerous criminals and security threats while ensuring protection of civil liberties.
  • Robust temporary worker programs that incorporate visa portability to protect workers and better access to temporary workers for small businesses and particular regions.
  • Increased opportunities for temporary workers to establish “dual intent” and seek permanent residence if eligible.

While looking forward to broad-based immigration reforms, the group also recognizes an immediate need to preserve protections for so-called DREAMers currently covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program through legislative action, according to a letter from the co-chairs in the report. The group has endorsed the BRIDGE Act and similar bipartisan legislation to provide temporary legislative protections to this group. The letter also recognizes that measurable progress toward improving border security and enforcing immigration law is necessary before Congress returns to the broader immigration discussion.

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