Reps. John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) have proven that it is possible to get strong bipartisan support for an immigration bill, despite the fact the parties are farther apart ideologically now than at any time in the past 50 years: Their Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act, H.R. 5681, passed on March 8, 2022, with 387 yeas and only 33 nays.

Compare the exceptional degree of bipartisanship they achieved to the almost total lack of bipartisanship in the passage last year of Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard’s (D-Calif.) American Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 6, with 228 yeas and 197 nays. Every Democrat voted yea, but only nine Republicans joined them. The rest of the Republicans opposed it.

One obvious difference is that Katko had bipartisan cosponsors and Roybal-Allard’s cosponsors were all Democrats. It helps to have members of both parties at the table when the provisions of a bill are being discussed.

But obviously there was more to it than bipartisan co-sponsorship.

Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act

In 1974, Congress issued a mandate to establish a Native American task force to stop rampant human and drug smuggling across the Sonoran desert that runs through the Tohono O'odham Nation’s reservation. The Nation has a 76-mile stretch of land on the border with Mexico.

The task force was started with 25 tribal members who became known as the “Shadow Wolves” because they hunt smugglers like a pack of wolves. Their extraordinary tracking skills have made them a key component of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative, which was established by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.

According to Katko, limitations on pay and upward mobility have made it difficult to retain and recruit officers for this task force. His bill will facilitate long-term viability of the Shadow Wolves by allowing its officers to be reclassified as special agents with higher pay and more authority to patrol, investigate, and interdict illicit activities.

It also would require ICE to develop a strategy for expanding the Native American task force program to other appropriate areas in the vicinity of our land borders with Mexico and Canada.

American Dream and Promise Act


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow his blog at