An Immigration Opportunity in the Infrastructure Bill

By Dan Cadman on April 16, 2019

Recent media reports suggest that President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are going to meet and discuss the possibility of bipartisan legislation for up to $2 trillion worth of national infrastructure projects (see here, and here). This is great news; no one with a modestly critical eye can look around and not see evidence of our crumbling infrastructure.

Meanwhile on another track, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has in the past few days indicated he may be willing to entertain immigration legislation of some type and Sen. Lindsay Graham has leaped into the vacuum to suggest that he will put such legislation forward. This is not necessarily good news; Graham, like his late colleague John McCain, has in the past been reliably conservative about nearly everything except immigration. Any bill he introduces will have to be scrutinized carefully because it may very well be like the Gang of Eight bill in which he was instrumental: lots of tough talk, with carefully phrased giveaways tucked into the corners that undid all of the toughness.

As for myself, on the immigration front I'd prefer stasis, as horrible as that may be, to another head fake that purports to legislatively address the need for immigration control and border security while doing absolutely nothing substantive.

But the infrastructure bill offers an opportunity for progress on immigration. It seems to me that it is incumbent on all parties when crafting a bill of this magnitude to be sure that the jobs go only to lawfully authorized workers. This is a prime opportunity to enact universal E-Verify, but failing that, then the bill should at least go so far as to say that in return for provision of any money, use of E-Verify is required for the federal government and its contractors and subcontractors; for the states and their contractors and subcontractors; and for local governments and their contractors and subcontractors, and that any entity that violates the rule by failing to use E-Verify or ensuring its use by contractors, is subject to penalties including claw-backs of the funding provided.

If this is as far toward immigration reform as we can get without giving away the shop, then it would still be no mean feat.

Topics: E-Verify