U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced today that he was introducing the WALL Act, legislation that would fully fund the border wall along the southern border. His legislation is also the first bill that will fund the wall by identifying specific funding sources.
“We need to build the wall along the southern border—President Trump has called for the wall and I agree. As a former builder and developer in south Texas I know border security is national security and we need to do more to deter the growing numbers of unauthorized immigrants coming across our borders. That’s why I’ve outlined specific ways to fund the border wall by assessing penalties on illegal immigration and closing loopholes that allow unauthorized immigrants to receive federal benefits. We’re going to build the wall through new sources of funds by protecting the integrity of hardworking American citizens’ tax dollars.”
Inhofe’s legislation will fully fund the President’s $25 billion border wall while providing specific ways to pay for it:
Require a work-authorized Social Security Number (SSN) to claim refundable tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Child Tax Credit:
- Currently only the child needs a SSN, not the parent benefiting from the refundable child tax credit. My bill would require the parent to have a valid work-eligible social security number.
- Before 2003, the Social Security Agency did not distinguish between work-eligible and non-work eligible SSNs. Therefore, there are individuals benefiting from the EITC they are not authorized to receive because they are non-work eligible.
Require welfare applicants (food stamps, TANF, HUD, etc) to verify citizenship:
- Currently someone only needs to “declare” citizenship and provide a SSN to receive some of these benefits.
- Inhofe’s bill requires states verify citizenship prior to granting benefits using E-verify and require a work-authorized SSN for eligibility.
Increasing the minimum fines on illegal border crossers.
This legislation is designed to complement the Asylum Abuse Reduction Act that Sen. Inhofe introduced in August, legislation that will address immigration loopholes to improve the integrity of the asylum process. The United States experienced a 234 percent increase in asylum applications from 2014 to 2016, generating a backlog in our immigration courts. That number is expected to increase.
The Asylum Abuse Reduction Act would:
Require migrants declare asylum at our embassies/consulates in Mexico or Canada before entering the United States:
- Currently, migrants who cross the border illegally and declare asylum are released pending credible fear screenings and other legal procedures, but rarely show up for proceedings – never completing the asylum process.
- The dramatic increase in asylum claims, as urged by smugglers, creates a huge strain on our resources, a backlog in the immigration process and most migrants don’t show up for their court date.
- The Asylum Abuse Reduction Act requires individuals seeking asylum to have their preliminary credible fear screening at an embassy or consulate outside the United States prior to being considered for admittance for asylum purposes.
Create a criminal bench warrant for immigrants that have failed to appear for immigration court:
- Currently, when illegal immigrants fail to show up for court, their information is not entered into police databases.
- With Inhofe’s bill, if migrants don’t appear for court, they will be given a bench warrant so if they are stopped for an unrelated offense, like speeding, there will be a warrant for them in the system for violating immigration law.
Create a pilot program for alternatives to detention:
- The Flores decision says that we can’t detain illegal immigrants with children or families for more than 20 days. Currently, that usually means they are released pending trial – and then fail to appear.
- Inhofe’s bill establishes a pilot program that would allow families to be released to a qualified organization, contracted with the federal government, to ensure migrants comply with immigration proceedings.