FIRST ON FOX: The bipartisan immigration framework being floated by Sens Thom Tillis, R-N.C. and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., would see Border Patrol agents given a 14% pay hike along with a number of other measures including a recapture of unused employment visas, according to a summary document obtained by Fox News Digital.
The framework, which is understood to be still taking shape, is a last-ditch effort to get an immigration deal through Congress before Republicans take the House in early January and before the Title 42 public health order — which has been used to expel a majority of migrants since 2020 — expires in less than two weeks.
The core of the deal is border security funding of at least $25 billion and upwards of $40 billion combined with a pathway to citizenship for two million illegal immigrants either protected by, or eligible for protection by, the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Fox News was one of a number of outlets that reported this week that the proposal would also keep Title 42 in place for a year, with metric components in place for an extension.
Other border security elements would include hiring more Border Patrol agents as well as pay increases, and the creation of regional processing centers to surge resources at the border and judge asylum claims. It would also include resources for detention, deportation and greater use of expedited removal.
A summary document, obtained by Fox, goes into greater detail about what the plan would include — specifically that it would set a minimum staffing level at 20,500 Border Patrol agents and would raise pay for agents — who have been at the frontlines of the border crisis since it started in early 2021– by 14 percent.
It would also hire an additional 600 officers annually for Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) who staff the ports of entry, who would be relied on more under the proposal. The bill also would ‘make investments’ in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers and immigration judges and courts — which have been facing significant backlogs.
On the pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, it would cap eligibility for those who have been in the U.S. since 2018, were under 18 when they arrived and were no older than 38 in 2012.
But the framework also includes a provision on legal immigration to ‘recapture’ green cards from past fiscal years. This would take the difference between the number of green cards authorized by Congress and the number actually given out for each year and make that number of green cards automatically available.
It is a provision that has called for by not only immigrant activist groups but also by Big Tech-backed groups like FWD.us, as the employment visas would overwhelmingly affect tech workers from India and China who have come in via temporary visas but are facing a backlog of green card applications. The measure has received bipartisan support but has failed to get through Congress.
The summary calculates the number of visas to be made available to be approximately 200,000.
It is unclear what support the bill may have, particularly given the tight timeframe before the new Congress. House Republican leadership have ruled out any form of ‘amnesty,’ and the bill has already seen opposition from Republicans in the Senate. It is also unclear how many Democrats will agree to the border security measures, in exchange for a relatively limited citizenship pathway — Democrats have pushed to give citizenship to over 11 million illegal immigrants.
While Republicans have balked at amnesty proposals, Tillis has pointed to the looming end of Title 42, and a feared spike in migration, and said that the DACA-for-border-security deal is worth making — while rejecting its labeling as an amnesty.
‘These are people that came to this country as minors who are now doctors, scientists, teachers, hundreds serving in the military. And I think the American people understand this is very different than this concept of amnesty,’ he said Thursday on ‘America’s Newsroom.’ ‘This is going to give them a path and it’s not automatic. They’re going to have to work and maintain those highest standards. And for that, we get a closed border and we shut down the cartels. That seems to me like something worth working on.’
He also warned about a new spike if Title 42 ends.
‘In the last year of the Trump administration, we had about a half million illegal crossings. That is manageable for Border Patrol. Now we have over 2 million. And if Title 42 goes away, that could be 3 million or more.’
‘And the Border Patrol has told me to my face that they will lose control of the border,’ he said. ‘They’re already spread thin. This is a crisis that the administration refuses to accept, and it’s one that we need to solve.’
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), told Fox News Digital that he has been in contact with both offices and is waiting to see the actual text before saying whether he supports any potential deal. He also said he was pushing to include enforcement measures needed to end the crisis as well as the practice of ‘catch-and-release.’
‘We are looking at actual solutions to end this crisis,’ he said.
Meanwhile, immigrant advocate groups have praised the bill’s inclusion of a DACA pathway, although others have been cautious about moves they say would ‘weaken’ asylum.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was the author of the original legislation to provide protection for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, released a statement saying he applauds ‘every good faith effort to give these deserving individuals a path to citizenship.
‘I’ve been in touch with my colleagues and will carefully review their proposal,’ he said. ‘I am determined to do everything in my power to help deliver a Christmas Miracle for Dreamers.’
Immigration hawks were less impressed. Former acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan and former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Tom Homan, released a statement describing the proposal as ‘nothing more than amnesty, cloaked with the fig leaf of ‘more funding’ for Border Patrol.’
‘In reality, this proposal would do nothing except encourage more families around the world to put their children, of all ages, in the hands of the cartels, enriching these blood-thirsty and savage organizations, driving even-higher numbers of unaccompanied minors to the border, and further overwhelming an already besieged Border Patrol,’ they said.