U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has a plan that would open up the federal government with $24 billion in funding for border security.
The plan, which shares features of a 2013 proposal by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, includes offering 12 million undocumented people who are already in the United States a pathway to citizenship, Kind said during a press conference Tuesday at the La Crosse Regional Airport.
“Put them at the end of the line, fine them $2,000 a piece. There will be additional requirements they’ll have to meet before they qualify for possible citizenship,” Kind said. “If you do that, you can raise, just through the fines alone, over $24 billion dollars.”
Kind called the legislation a “win-win” and said, if passed, the president can say he’s getting some construction funds for a border wall from Mexico — by fining undocumented people. Kind said he will discuss his plan to reopen the government with other lawmakers this week in Washington.
The proposal includes:
- Working with local law enforcement to create efficient infrastructure.
- Securing the border with technology including drone surveillance, vehicle screening and ground detection systems.
- Improving internal immigration and visa enforcement.
- Enhanced drug interdiction.
- Providing protections for immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
“That $24 billion buys a lot of things that we can fix in the immigration system once and for all so we can stop this endless debate and stop holding the government hostage,” Kind said. He said he hopes a path to citizenship for undocumented people could also produce billions of dollars in tax revenue.
“The Congressional Budget Office says that if you make these people legal, tax-paying citizens, that could be an additional $100 billion [in tax revenue] over the next 10 years,” he said.
According to a 2015 CBO report, similar legislation, such as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, would have had a fiscal benefit of $897 billion over 20 years. The bill was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of four Republicans and three other Democrats in April 2013. It passed the Senate in June 2013 but was never introduced on the floor of the House.
The shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history, has left 800,000 federal employees to go without a paycheck while either on furlough or, in the case of essential workers, still on the job.
Senate Republicans unveiled legislation Monday with immigration provisions, which Democrats called inadequate. The bill includes the $5.7 billion President Donald Trump wants for a border wall and will extend temporary protections against deportation to immigrants covered by DACA and three more years of temporary protections against deportation to immigrants who have fled countries because of natural disasters or violent conflicts.
However, the proposal would require asylum seekers younger than 18 from those countries to apply for that status at special facilities in Central America, not at the U.S. border; allow no more than 15,000 refugees to receive asylum annually; and bar them from appealing a decision in U.S. courts, according to an Associated Press report.
U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Blue Earth, called this solution a reasonable way to end the government shutdown and protect the American people in a statement Tuesday.
President Trump “has made securing the border and protecting our nation a priority in this whole process, and he has my support,” said Hagedorn, who won the Minnesota 1st Congressional District seat Tim Walz left for the governor’s mansion. “It’s time for Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats to come to the table and negotiate a solution. I urge my colleagues in the Senate, especially Minnesota’s senators, to quickly pass the bill before them and send it to the House so that we can act decisively for the American people.”
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate but need Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold for bills to advance. No Democrat has publicly expressed support for the proposal Trump announced over the weekend.