Despite the fanfare surrounding President Joe Biden’s open borders immigration plan, it’s not looking too good for his “let’s legalize everyone” policy. Lawmakers on both sides acknowledged that the White House’s immigration proposal is not likely to become law in its current form.
On his first day in office, Biden proposed legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for over 11 million individuals residing in the country illegally. It would also create a streamlined pathway for farmworkers and those protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Predictably, the proposal is light on measures designed to prevent future illegal immigration. Big shocker, right? However, it would allocate $4 billion in aid to Central American countries to address poverty, crime, and other issues that lead people to cross the border illegally and add more technology to monitor the crossing.
The Wall Street Journal noted, “some Democrats say they can rally around an immigration-reform package that makes no concessions. But the approach is likely to quickly run into opposition from Senate Republicans, at least 10 of whom would need to support a measure for it to clear the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle for most legislation.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is sponsoring the bill, told an audience at the American Business Immigration Council that passing the legislation would be a “herculean task” and would be nearly impossible without Republican support. However, he indicated that President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris support the effort. “They want to get it done, and we will get it done,” he said.
Still, some Republican lawmakers might be willing to work with the Biden administration on immigration, but they won’t be receptive to a proposal that goes as far as the president’s.
“There’s common ground,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). “The toxic area is when we get into an immigration conversation and suddenly it’s, ’We’re going to begin with every person that’s entered the country…suddenly becomes a legal citizen here, no matter how they came.’ … That’s a bad starting point to say the least.”
From The Journal:
White House officials have privately told associates that they view the bill as primarily a starting point to unite Democrats, according to three people briefed on their thinking, and are determined to see what, if anything, they can achieve on immigration in their first six months in office. That window would ensure that any legislation wouldn’t bleed into the 2022 midterm campaign, when historically the president’s political party is at a disadvantage and may be wary of tackling controversial topics.
Kerri Talbot, deputy director of The Immigration Hub, an advocacy group, said, “While we’re pushing for legalization for the 11 million, we want to be pragmatic.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is spearheading the effort to promote Biden’s immigration proposal. He acknowledged that the Democrats might have to settle for legislation that does not quite go as far as the far-left would want. But he did indicate that he wished to pass a “comprehensive bill.”
Biden’s advisers seem confident that even if they don’t get everything they want, they might be able to get some key concessions. The Journal noted, “Mr. Biden’s advisers and immigration advocates say the Dream Act, which creates a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, possibly coupled with a similar citizenship pathway for farmworkers and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status, could win 60 votes in the Senate.”
Other lawmakers have indicated they might be willing to negotiate on certain issues regarding immigration, but are not willing to support anything that doesn’t involve enforcement of immigration laws. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters on Thursday that the Senate should prioritize legislation concerned the DACA program.
“I think probably the space in a 50-50 Senate would be some kind of DACA deal,” he said. “I just think comprehensive immigration is going to be a tough sell, given this environment.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) stated that security should be a fundamental component of immigration legislation. He criticized Biden’s camp for displaying a lack of concern over enforcement of the country’s immigration laws.
“The key that unlocks the door to doing more is the security parts of it, the feeling that the laws are in place and are being enforced,” Rubio said.
There does seem to be an option that might allow Biden and his allies to ram through the proposal if they use reconciliation, at a tactic that would enable Democrats to pass legislation tied to the budget with a simple majority. This way, they would only need all Democratic senators to vote in favor of the proposal. Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie.
Still, this option is unlikely to work. The Biden administration is getting many plaudits for its stance on immigration, but excitement over the bill will likely wane when Democrats realize that it has only a very small chance of passing as is.
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