Video: Immigration Briefing for the 114th Congress

By CIS January 2015

The video and transcript are now available for the Center for Immigration Studies immigration briefing held for staffers of the 114th Congress. The Center holds this event at the beginning of each new Congress to provide context and numbers to the immigration debate. With the objective of counteracting the sentimentality which often ignores real data relating to the issue, this year’s panel was particularly timely as Congress prepared to debate President Obama’s executive actions and DHS appropriations.

In his introductory remarks, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) emphasized that “One of the challenges we have in Washington is so many of our policy makers have these blinders on. And when you start talking about immigration policy, all they see is the immigrant, and that’s it. They don’t see the impact of immigration on American citizens.”

View the video:
View the transcript:

Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research, highlighted the fiscal and labor impact of immigration, commenting that immigrant income and tax payments and use of social services reflect their education levels. “If you think that legalizing illegal immigrants is going to be some boon to the U.S. economy, you have to remember what we know about their education levels. There’s no way, as a group, without or without legal status, that as a group they’re going to pay anywhere near enough in taxes to cover their consumption of public services.”

Jessica Vaughan, the Center’s Director of Policy Studies, provided statistics showing a collapse of enforcement, deportations, and cooperation with state and local law enforcement. Ms. Vaughan stated, “The reason deportations have declined is because of the Obama administration’s policies – generally known as prosecutorial discretion or prioritization are the euphemisms that they’ve given them – that they have been gradually putting in place since about 2009 ... ICE is removing half of the number of people from the interior than the agency was doing in 2009.” Fewer criminal aliens are being deported as well, with a 25 percent reduction in the deportation of gang members, despite “more money, more agents, and more technology” being made available to ICE.

The panel discussed the impact of massive immigration, specifying the huge growth in the number of both illegal and legal immigrants. The numbers jumped form 10 million immigrants in 1970 to 41.3 million today. “In the last three years, this administration has issued about 1 million work permits. That is above and beyond who people who come in as legal immigrants or who come in on guest worker visas,” Vaughan said.

NumbersUSA Director of Government Relations Rosemary Jenks provided an overview of legislation and strategy for the new Congress. Ms. Jenks said, “The only way for Congress to address the situation in the short term is to prevent DHS from receiving funds to carry out the president’s plan to issue work permits to categories of people that have not been approved by Congress. And it’s also going to be necessary to have legislation to try to roll back some of the policy changes that have been – and that needs to focus on ending the catch-and-release policies that are in place today, and also cutting off the magnet of jobs that brings people to this country in the first place.”

All members of the panel emphasized the need for not allowing special interests and sentimentality to dominate the thinking on immigration and to put Americans first.