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Bill Would Reduce Legal Immigration And Crack Down On Sanctuary Cities


And let's bring in another voice now. It is Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. He is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. And as we mentioned, there was a bipartisan deal in the Senate to take up DACA in coming weeks. Goodlatte is part of a bloc of conservatives in the House - a sizable bloc - who have some demands of their own. He has a bill that would reduce legal immigration to the United States by 25 percent, maybe more. It would also crack down on so-called sanctuary cities. Goodlatte's bill is called the Securing America's Future Act. And the congressman is on the line.


BOB GOODLATTE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So your bill has some Republicans behind it - a good number - and others not. Carlos Curbelo of Florida labeled it, actually, the Bannon Bill - after Steve Bannon - said it's deeply flawed, would destroy American agriculture. There's clearly a debate here. So I wonder, why push something so controversial right now?

GOODLATTE: Well, first of all, there are a few who disagree with this in our conference. But this has overwhelming support from Republicans, and it meets the test that both the president and the speaker of the House have put forward for immigration reform. And that is that we address the DACA issue and we do it in a generous way. This is not a temporary fix as the first proposal in the Senate was. This is a permanent fix so that DACA recipients can stay in the United States with three-year renewable approvals, indefinitely.

Secondly, it addresses the speaker's commitment that we not let this situation happen again. And that's really what the president's requests are - that we address border security. And he and the secretary of homeland security made it very clear that's not just a wall. That is what happens when somebody gets across that border and abuses our asylum system, that is released into the interior of the country and told to come back for a hearing...

GREENE: Right, but...

GOODLATTE: ...Years later...


GOODLATTE: ...And also, it addresses chain migration, which is, of course, going to result in a reduction in the number of people here for immigration. Now, Doug and others are right that we need more in immigration. This is not a comprehensive bill. And we support the president and others' position. So...

GREENE: Well, let me just - if I may, Congressman - pick up on that.

GOODLATTE: Sure, sure.

GREENE: I mean, if there is more to do - you're not going to be able to do everything within a period of a week or two.

GOODLATTE: No, no. We don't try to do everything in this bill.

GREENE: And you have...


GREENE: I mean, there seems to be a lot of agreement over DACA. And if DACA is so important to you as you say, why risk letting that program expire to push ideas that even some of the members of your conservative bloc say you just don't have the votes at this point?

GOODLATTE: Well, first of all, it is very important that you not let the problem persist. And therefore, if you're going to solve the DACA issue, you have got to give the Department of Homeland Security the tools to make sure that when you have a surge of people - as you always do when you have a generous program - more people try to come into the United States. You've got to be able to address that when it occurs. And it's an ongoing problem, even today with an administration that's dedicated to securing the border and enforcing immigration laws. They have all kinds of loopholes that they have to deal with. And those loopholes need to be closed. And that's what we're asking in this situation.

GREENE: May I ask you, Congressman...

GOODLATTE: And we also very much favor using some of those reductions in chain migration for a merit-based system. But we're not putting that into this bill because it's not comprehensive immigration reform.

GREENE: Let me just ask you - and some of - some Republicans accused the Democratic Party of playing politics in recent days, saying that they were willing to hold up the government funding, shut down the government to stand firm on something like DACA. Could you not be accused of doing the same thing here - I mean, holding up what could be a solution and a bipartisan way forward on one part of this, keep the government funded and then have conversations about things important to you later?

GOODLATTE: Oh, no, no, no. Absolutely not. These go together. And it was agreed. We had a wonderful meeting where we had members from the House and the Senate and the president. We had Republicans and Democrats. And we agreed on four matters to negotiate. And that's exactly what our bill is. Nothing I have seen so far - and I'm hopeful of this group in the Senate, that they will take the enforcement side of this equation seriously.

But this bill does that. It addresses DACA and takes the requests of the Department of Homeland Security for security at the wall; enforcement that makes sure that when people enter the country illegally, they can be returned home safely and addresses chain migration and the crazy visa lottery system, where people are admitted to the country not based on anything close to merit or even family relationships but based upon pure luck.

GREENE: Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, thanks so much for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

GOODLATTE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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