Immigration Restrictionists Brace for Looming Lame-Duck Session

Between today and January 3, 2023 when the 118th Congress convenes, the nation may undergo a shift away from the party that minimizes border security to the party that favors enforcement and a more rational immigration policy. The outcome will depend on more than the Election Night results.

A hotly contested lame-duck session that will include a major amnesty push will play a significant role in the political dynamic of the next two years. Voters have consistently rejected amnesty because legalizing illegal immigrants incentivizes future illegal immigration waves, immediately expands the labor market, thereby harming U.S. workers, most particularly the 4 million that turn 18 each year, and vulnerable low-skilled, American job seekers.

Lame-duck sessions represent opportunities for the outgoing Congress to make one final push for their pet causes, even though, despite their terms in office, they’ve been unable to legislatively achieve their personal wish list. From the defeated or retired legislators’ perspectives, since they’re no longer accountable to their constituents, they have nothing to lose.

Efforts to end lame-duck sessions, dating back 90 years, have failed. The 20th Amendment, approved in 1933, was originally drafted to eliminate the lame duck. The amendment’s proponents argued that lame ducks were subject to nefarious influences. Moreover, passing lame-duck legislation might contradict the voices of the people as expressed in the last election. But the 20th Amendment didn’t definitively prohibit lame-duck sessions. Instead, dodging its original intention, the amendment simply moved the date on which the newly elected President and Congress took office from March to January.

Since the 20th Amendment didn’t kill off the lame duck, Congress will have to deal with it. If Democrats prevail in November, then a disastrous amnesty and other immigration-expanding measures are possible. More immigration has a host of Capitol Hill allies: religious and academic institutions, special interest groups, social media, big business and lobbyists who spent $3.7 billion to influence peddle targeted congressional members.

Higher immigration levels mean more consumers, and more cheap labor, so naturally corporate interests favor higher immigration levels. Democrats are united and tireless in their commitment and determination to enact amnesty. Last year, Democrats tried to sneak amnesty into a larger budget bill. This bill was scheduled to go through the reconciliation process, meaning it would only require a simple majority to pass, and the problematic filibuster would have been avoided. But the Senate Parliamentarian had to confirm that the bill’s contents specifically dealt with the federal budget.

Democrats unconvincingly argued that giving millions of illegal aliens legal status was a budgetary matter. Nevertheless, the Parliamentarian ruled against all three amnesty attempts.

Big business, anticipating December, is hard at work with a multifaceted game plan that includes multiple immigration provisions in unrelated amendments that it wants to include in the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act. The amendments would give more low- and high-skilled workers legal U.S. work permission.

Other amnesty schemes are afoot. California Senator Alex Padilla, appointed to replace Vice President Kamala Harris, is working in concert with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to change registry laws to allow illegal immigrants to apply for permanent residence after they’ve lived in the U.S. for at least seven years, legalizing about 8 million illegal aliens. Padilla’s proposal reflects Democrats’ mindset – all roads can lead to amnesty.

When the lame-duck period begins, one fundamental principal should guide the GOP – no amnesty deals! The U.S. has more immigration than the nation can manage. More than 1 million lawful permanent residents arrive annually; millions more enter on employment visas, and fiscal year 2022 ended with a staggering 2,378,944 migrant border encounters, the highest ever recorded, but exclusive of the 599,000 known “gotaways” that Customs and Border Protection agents estimate eluded capture, but including an estimated 78 on the FBI’s terrorist watch list.

Since the only way to ban the lame duck would be through another constitutional amendment, Democrats and Republicans could adopt a civil tone if just for a few weeks. The parties could agree that a lame-duck session cannot create major legislation and simply let the next Congress take up leftover business.