WASHINGTON – Sen. David Vitter filed a slate of immigration-related bills Wednesday, while continuing his opposition to “comprehensive immigration reform” pushed by the Senate’s so-called “Gang of Eight.”
Vitter’s proposals range from offering more visas to those who earn doctorates in the U.S. to more extreme changes that would end automatic citizenship for babies born in the country.
The Gang of Eight, which includes Republicans such as Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are pushing for comprehensive reform that includes expanded border security and what they call a rigorous potential path to citizenship for the nation’s illegal immigrants.
But Vitter, R-La., and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., teamed up Wednesday to argue that they fear any such plan will focus on amnesty with promises for increased border security that are not backed up.
They point to the 1986 immigration reform signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, which they say did not bring as much as was promised in terms of border security.
“That model hasn’t worked before,” Vitter said. “In fact, it’s failed horribly.”
Referring to the numbers of illegal immigrants now compared with 1986, Vitter added: “We want to solve the problem. We don’t want to perpetuate it, much less quadruple it.”
Vitter wants to focus on what he called his “targeted, step-by-step approach” of individual bills before even considering amnesty or an accelerated path to citizenship.
The new bills Vitter is filing include:
- The STEM Jobs Act of 2013 to make up to 55,000 visas available to qualified immigrants who have doctoral degrees in a field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics from a U.S. college.
- The Birthright Citizenship Act preventing the children of illegal immigrants from gaining automatic citizenship unless one of the parents is a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident or a member of the U.S. armed forces.
- Child tax credit legislation to close loopholes to prevent illegal immigrants from claiming tax credits for their children.
- Sanctuary cities legislation to prohibit federal funds from being distributed to cities that Vitter said encourage and provide safe harbor for illegal immigrants.
- The Voter Integrity Protection Act that would make it an aggravated felony and deportable offense when an illegal immigrant attempts to vote in the U.S.
- U.S.-VISIT legislation to fully implement the U.S. VISIT check-in and check-out system.
Vitter also is co-sponsoring legislation by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to expand the E-Verify system for verifying employee eligibility.