U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) today reintroduced the WALL Act, legislation that would fully fund the border wall along the southern border. Their legislation, first introduced last December, is also the first bill that will fund the wall by identifying a specific funding sources.
“We need to build the wall,” Inhofe said. “Over the past two weeks, Democrats have refused to secure our border from drugs, human trafficking and crime all because they are determined to oppose any policy of President Trump—even policies they have supported in the past. My bill fully funds the wall by assessing penalties on illegal immigration and closing loopholes that allow unauthorized immigrants to receive federal benefits, protecting the integrity of hardworking American citizens’ tax dollars. It’s that simple.”
“The primary responsibility of the federal government is the defense of our nation, which includes strong border security,” Sen. Rounds said. “The WALL Act will provide full funding for construction of a physical barrier along our southern border to protect against illegal immigration and stop those who wish to do us harm, such as terrorists, gang members and drug dealers, from entering the United States from the south. It pays for the wall by closing existing loopholes that allow illegal immigrants to receive federal benefits and increasing fines for illegal border crossings and visa overstays. By funding the wall through increased fines, we prevent any risk of dipping into Department of Defense (DoD) funding, which is already stretched thin. I thank Chairman Inhofe for his leadership on this effort and I look forward to advancing this proposal in the Senate.”
“We can certainly afford the construction,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Sen. Inhofe and I are teaming up on legislation that will save taxpayers $33 billion simply by ensuring that the taxpayers’ generosity isn’t wasted. If you want to receive food stamps and other benefits, then you should prove your citizenship. If you cross the border illegally or overstay your visit to this country, then you should pay a stiff penalty.”
“The overwhelming majority of Texans and Americans want to stop the flow of illegal immigration into our country with common sense border security,” said Sen. Cruz. “The WALL Act would achieve that goal and fully fund the border wall by closing existing loopholes that provide illegal immigrants with federal benefits and tax credits, without affecting the benefits and tax credits used by Americans.”
“I’m proud to support the WALL Act, legislation to fully fund a wall along our country’s southern border,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This isn’t just about illegal immigration, and it isn’t just about stopping dangerous gang members from coming into our country. It’s also about stopping the flow of drugs coming across our border, killing Americans in communities across the country. It’s time we uphold our responsibility to secure the border and protect Americans. It’s a national security priority, it’s a health priority, it should be an American priority. Let’s get it done.”
This 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. The WALL Act 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.
- The WALL Act enhances citizenship verification prior to granting benefits using E-verify and require a work-authorized SSN for eligibility.
Increasing the minimum fines on illegal border crossers and establishes minimum penalty for visa overstays.
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.
- Withthe WALL Act, 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.
- The WALL Act 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.