WASHINGTON – Today Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced the Immigration in the National Interest Act (H.R. 3775), which creates a points-based merit immigration system that gives priority to immigrants who have the skills and abilities needed to contribute to our U.S. economy.
The legislation is the House companion to Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue’s (R-GA) introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.
Rep. Smith: “Our immigration system is the most generous in the world. The United States admits one million legal immigrants every year. However, less than one in six green card holders are admitted based on education and skills.
“The Immigration in the National Interest Act ensures that our legal immigration system prioritizes those with the highest skills and education necessary to boost economic growth, spur innovation, and create jobs in our country. It will also reduce the number of low-skilled and under-educated immigrants. Studies have shown these individuals typically depress wages or take jobs from Americans, and receive four times as much more in government assistance than they pay in taxes.
“Additionally, this bill will end the policy of automatically admitting extended relatives of legally admitted immigrants, often referred to as chain migration. Those relatives outside the nuclear family must use other methods to immigrate legally to our country.
“Thank you to Senators Cotton and Perdue for their partnership on this important issue. And I appreciate President Trump’s support of this legislation and his help in fulfilling the pledge we made to make our immigration laws better serve America.”
Last Thursday, Rep. Smith held a press conference announcing the introduction of this legislation and another bill to protect American workers, the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 3711). Watch the video of the press conference here.Read More
WASHINGTON – Today Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 3711) to save jobs for citizens and legal workers by requiring U.S. employers to check the work eligibility of all future hires through the E-Verify system. Congressman Smith has a long-standing interest in E-Verify’s success; his 1996 bill created the pilot for the system. Congressman Smith was joined in introducing the bill by coauthors House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Congressman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.).
E-Verify, operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), checks the social security numbers of newly hired employees against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records to help ensure that they are genuinely eligible to work in the U.S. The program quickly confirms 99.8% of work-eligible employees and takes less than two minutes to use. Over 740,000 American employers currently use E-Verify and 83% of America’s employers support a mandatory electronic verification system. A summary of key components of the Legal Workforce Act can be found here.
On Thursday, Rep. Smith held a press conference on announcing the introduction of the legislation, and another bill he plans to introduce, the Immigration in the National Interest Act. Video of the press conference can be found here.
Congressman Smith, Chairman Goodlatte, and Congressman Calvert issued the following statements today on the introduction of the Legal Workforce Act.
Congressman Smith: “The Legal Workforce Act puts legal workers first and enjoys broad support from the American people. It is free, quick, easy-to-use and effective.
“Nearly 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Meanwhile, seven million people are working in the United States illegally. By expanding the E-Verify system to all U.S. employers, this bill will ensure that jobs only go to legal workers.
“A recent poll showed that 70 percent of voters support legislation that makes it illegal for businesses in the U.S. to hire illegal immigrants.
“I thank Chairman Goodlatte for his continued commitment to this legislation and to securing our border.”
Chairman Goodlatte: “The Legal Workforce Act brings our nation’s employment eligibility system into the 21st century. Rather than relying on the current paper-based I-9 system that is susceptible to fraud, this bill requires all U.S. employers to use a web-based system, E-Verify. This program takes less than two minutes to use and easily identifies whether or not a new employee is allowed to work in the United States.
“Expanding E-Verify nationwide is a critical component to the interior enforcement of our immigration laws and will help maintain the integrity of our immigration system for the years ahead. I thank Congressman Smith for the many years he has worked on this important bill and look forward to the House Judiciary Committee’s consideration of it soon. ”
Congressman Calvert: “Mandatory E-Verify is long overdue. The program is ready to go mandatory and the Legal Workforce Act will deliver on the promise to ensure that American jobs go to American workers and those authorized to work in the U.S. Chairman Smith and Chairman Goodlatte continue to demonstrate tremendous leadership in advancing the use of E-Verify and protecting American workers.”
Washington, DC – Today Rep. Lamar Smith voted to provide $15 billion in emergency funding for the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fund recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey. The funding bill also extends the National Flood Insurance Program.
Rep. Smith: “Today my vote was for all those in Texas and Louisiana who have been impacted by the devastation from Hurricane Harvey. Congress worked quickly and efficiently to pass emergency federal assistance so those affected can have the aid they need to start their recovery from Hurricane Harvey.”Read More
Statement by Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) – As Delivered
Member Press Conference on the Legal Workforce Act and Immigration in the National Interest Act
Thursday, September 7, 2017, 9:30 a.m., Studio B
Immigration impacts every aspect of our society. For this reason, it is one of the most challenging issues we face as a nation.
I’ve had a long-standing interest in the subject of immigration reform. When I was first elected, I represented 300 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. And I’m a former chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee and the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration.
I am introducing two pieces of legislation tomorrow to ensure our immigration policies put the interests of American workers and taxpayers first.
The Legal Workforce Act saves jobs for American workers. It applies the E-Verify electronic employment verification system to all new hires.
E-Verify is an internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s employment form with existing data at the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. The system returns a confirmation of employment eligibility or not.
The Legal Workforce Act provides employers with a reliable mechanism to determine whether their new hires are authorized to work.
The bill protects the rights of workers and employers by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue a final determination within 10 working days of the date the employee receives a tentative non-confirmation. The average resolution time is two and a half days.
The E-Verify program is free and easy to use. Employers can even access it from a smartphone. It quickly confirms 99.8 percent of work-eligible employees and takes less than two minutes to use.
Over 740,000 American employers voluntarily use E-Verify today and an average of 1,500 new businesses sign up each week. One-third of American jobs are now covered by E-Verify.
A recent poll found that two-thirds of voters “favor requiring businesses to use E-Verify to make sure every job goes to an American or other authorized worker.” (Pulse Opinion Research, August 25, 2017)
Next, I am introducing the Immigration in the National Interest Act – the House version of Senators Cotton and Perdue’s RAISE Act.
The legislation creates a new points-based merit immigration system that gives priority to immigrants who have the skills and abilities needed to contribute to our economy.
Under this bill, the United States will admit five million immigrants in the next 10 years. The United States will still admit more legal permanent residents than any other country.
In America today, 14% of immigrants are skilled; under this bill about 28% of immigrants admitted would be skilled. So we are doubling the percentage of skilled workers.
The legislation maintains family preferences for spouses and minor children of United States residents.
Other relatives of United States residents can use different visa programs to come to America, such as temporary visas, the new visa created by this bill that allows citizens to care for their parents, or the new points-based system.
English language ability isn’t a requirement and thousands of immigrants will be admitted who don’t speak English.
English fluency is just one of many factors that can be considered. Some immigrants will receive points for their English skills, just as they would for education or work skills.
Numerous objective studies show that low-skilled immigrants depress wages or take the jobs of lower-skilled American citizens and other legal immigrants.
The Heritage Foundation has determined that low-skilled immigrants cost the United States $150 billion each year. A legal immigrant without a high school degree typically receives $4 in government benefits for every $1 they pay in taxes. (Robert Rector, The Heritage Foundation – The Daily Signal, August 17, 2017.)
In addition, the National Academy of Sciences estimates that a lower-skilled immigrant costs taxpayers $142,000 over the immigrant’s lifetime.
Recent Polling on the provisions in the Immigration in the National Interest Act has demonstrated strong support by voters for these reforms. (Source: Pulse Opinion Research, August 25, 2017.)
Over 60% of voters want an annual limit of one-half million or less for legal permanent immigrants who receive work visas.
And 55% of voters support legislation that would allow immigrants to bring their spouse and minor children to the United States but would end chain migration or the automatic admission of extended family members.
Also, 75% of voters say that it is important in a merit-based points system that a potential immigrant be at least moderately fluent in English
These two bills put the interests of Americans first. They prevent illegal workers from taking jobs meant for Americans and prioritize our legal immigration system to admit those who can best contribute to our economy.
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21), held a press conference to announce the introduction of two bills to reform our legal immigration system: the Legal Workforce Act and the Immigration in National Interest Act. Rep. Smith plans to introduce the bills in the House on Friday.
Rep. Smith, the sponsor of the bills, was joined at the press conference by seven members of congress who have signed on as bill cosponsors: Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42), Rep. Steve King (IA-4), Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-1), Rep. Jody Hice (GA-10), Rep. Dave Brat (VA-7) and Rep. Francis Rooney (FL-19).
The Legal Workforce Act discourages illegal immigration and ensures jobs are protected for American workers. It would expand the E-Verify system to cover all new employees. The Immigration in the National Interest Act is the House companion to Senators Cotton and Perdue’s legal immigration bill, the RAISE Act, which protects American workers by prioritizing immigration based on those who have the skills to succeed, expand the economy, and create jobs.Read More
Washington, DC – Today Rep. Lamar Smith voted to provide nearly $8 billion in relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. The funding bill passed with bipartisan support.
Rep. Smith: “The bill we passed today is our first step in addressing Hurricane Harvey’s devastation and our recovery needs. Members came together quickly to pass emergency assistance so those affected can have the aid they need to start getting back on their feet.”Read More
Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued the following statement today in response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions announcement on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Rep. Smith: “Today President Trump delivered on his promise to the American people. He said he would discontinue DACA, which allows hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to stay in the country and gives them work permits.
“By ending the unconstitutional DACA program he has overturned the last of the Obama Administration’s amnesty agenda and returned to the rule of law. President Obama, a former Constitutional law professor, said many times that DACA was unconstitutional. Congress and the administration should strengthen our laws against illegal immigration and ensure that our immigration policies put unemployed Americans first. The U.S. labor participation rate is at a 40 year low.
“President Trump is right not to continue the DACA program and to force Congress to address immigration policies, including securing the border.”Read More
Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue’s (R-GA) introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. Senators Cotton and Perdue announced the introduction of legislation to reform our legal immigration system Wednesday morning with President Trump at the White House.
Rep. Smith: “Each year one million legal immigrants are admitted to the United States. Our immigration system is the most generous in the world. However, our current system fails to prioritize immigration based on skills and abilities. Less than 15 percent of green card holders are admitted based on education and skills. Existing immigration policies do not prioritize the interests of American workers and taxpayers.
“The RAISE Act ensures that our legal immigration system admits those with the highest training and abilities to spur economic growth and innovation. These reforms make sure that our immigration policies protect hard-working Americans.
“I thank Senators Cotton and Perdue for introducing the RAISE Act. We’ve been working with the senators for months on this effort and I plan to introduce the House companion bill soon. We appreciate President Trump’s support of this legislation and his help in fulfilling the pledge we made to make our immigration laws better serve America.”Read More
Washington, DC – Today Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) voted to provide critical funding for our national security with his support for H.R. 3219, Make America Secure Appropriations Act. The bill passed 235-192.
Rep. Smith: “Today we funded multiple measures to make America more safe and secure, including funding physical barriers along our Southern border. These barriers, in combination with additional border personnel and technology, play a critical role in reducing illegal immigration.
“Important to Texas’ 21st District, this legislation funds our military priorities and overhauls the way the VA does business. The bill funds a 2.4 percent pay raise for our troops and ensures they have adequate training. It keeps our military on the cutting edge of defense technology with investments in updated equipment and weapons and research and development. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs is funded at its highest rate ever to support medical care for 7 million VA patients, modernize records, and reduce the disability claims backlog.”Read More
Washington, DC – On Monday evening, Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) held a tele-town meeting with constituents from across the 21st Congressional District. During the event, the Congressman answered questions and took comments on a variety of issues including health care, border security and tax reform. Participants were asked four poll questions during the tele-town meeting. Results can be found below.
Rep. Smith: “A majority of poll respondents voiced their disapproval of President Obama’s health care law in my telephone town meeting. We still need to replace Obamacare with a health care policy that lowers premiums, lowers taxes and makes better health care accessible to all.
“I value these opportunities to hear from constituents and exchange ideas with them. Whether it’s discussing border structures or programs like E-verify, which shuts off the jobs magnet for illegal immigrants, these tele-town meetings provide a forum for me to learn how my constituents feel about many issues.”
July 24, 2017 Tele-town Meeting Poll Results
2409 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Lamar Smith represents the 21st Congressional District of Texas.
He serves as Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over programs at NASA, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The Committee oversees agency budgets of $39 billion, where the primary focus is on research and development.
Congressman Smith continues to serve on both the Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. He is a former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Ethics Committee.
In the last Congress, Congressman Smith was named Policymaker of the Year by POLITICO for his work on patent reform legislation.
A fifth generation Texan and native of San Antonio, Congressman Smith graduated from Yale University and Southern Methodist University School of Law. He and his wife, Beth, have an adult daughter and son.
The 21st Congressional District includes parts of Bexar, Travis, Comal and Hays Counties and all of Bandera, Blanco, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr and Real Counties. The district’s population is about 700,000. Congressman Smith maintains district offices in San Antonio, Austin and Kerrville.
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