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Camp: Senate Immigration Bill is Unconstitutional

July 11, 2013

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) made the following statement on Senate immigration bill being in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. 

“The Senate bill is unconstitutional, as it includes a number of revenue-related measures such as fees, penalties, surcharges and the non-payment of taxes.  As such, any consideration of the Senate bill in the House would also be unconstitutional.  The House will have to consider its own legislation.”

Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution, known as the Origination Clause, requires that all “revenue” (tax) measures must start in the House of Representatives.  This means the Senate may not “originate” any legislation that includes a provision that either raises or reduces federal revenue.

  • Section 6 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Funds:  The provision creates a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund” which is funded from both transfers from the general fund, as well as 18 different fees and penalties.  Funds collected from fines, fees, and penalties shall be deposited into the general fund.  By simply raising revenue for general fund purposes, the Senate has violated the Origination Clause.
  • Section  2211 Requirements for Blue Card Status and Section 2309 V Nonimmigrant Visas:  Both provisions would prevent noncitizens as defined in these sections from receiving premium tax credits under 36B of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) (of note, this section pertains to premium tax credits included in the Affordable Care Act).   Because the provisions included in the Senate passed bill result in a revenue effect, the Senate has violated the Origination Clause.
  • Section 2232 Establishment of Nonimmigrant Agricultural Worker Program:  Under this provision, employers of nonimmigrant alien workers in agriculture are not required to pay or withhold from such workers taxes under Sec. 3103 and 3301 of the IRC – FICA and FUTA taxes.  This would reduce federal revenues otherwise collected, thus is a revenue measure for purposes of the Origination Clause.
  • Section 4104  STEM Education and Training:  The provision requires employers to pay a fee of $1,000 into the STEM Education and Training Account.  Those funds are then redistributed to States, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and qualifying institutions for a variety of purposes, including STEM education, workforce investment activities and administrative expenses.  This new “fee” makes no attempt to relate the proceeds to the governmental activity availed of or occasioned by the payor (in this case the employer) and is viewed as a tax.
  • Section 5105 Visa Surcharge:  In addition to any fees otherwise imposed for such visas, the provision states that the Secretary of Labor shall collect a surcharge of $10 from an employer who submits an application for an employment-based visa and nonimmigrant visa.  The collection of this surcharge shall be suspended when the Secretary has collected a cumulative total of $1,500,000,000.  All revenue generated through this provision goes into the general fund (used to finance the government generally).  By simply raising revenue for general fund purposes, the Senate has violated the Origination Clause.