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Republicans are supposed to be reaching out to Latino voters, but last year all they did was stall on immigration reform, pass the enforcement-only SAFE Act out of committee, and give Steve King a vote on his amendment to deport DREAMers.
This year isn’t looking much better. Senate Republicans this week clamored to bar certain immigrant families from accessing child tax credits that they would otherwise qualify for, a move that would affect the health and nutrition of U.S. citizen children whose parents pay taxes. Congress is also negotiating the details of a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year.
Unfortunately, even with a Congress that claims to care about budget cuts, one of the most harmful policies for immigrant communities would remain fully funded: the 34,000 detention bed mandate, which is partially responsible for President Obama’s record high rates of deportations. Here’s the Washington Post blurb on how DHS and ICE will be funded:
With the Obama administration still deporting thousands of illegal immigrants on a daily basis, there’s $2.8 billion for detention programs operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That funding helps to pay for 34,000 beds for detainees, “the highest detention capacity in history,” according to the House Appropriations Committee. There’s also $114 million to continue funding the E-Verify program used to help companies check the immigration status of job applicants. The bipartisan immigration reform proposal passed by the Senate last year would add additional funding to the program.
Republicans apparently pushed for even worse provisions—including one that mirrors the infamous Steve King amendment the House passed last year, that would end DACA and prosecutorial discretion. But in the worst cases, Democrats were able to fight back:
Democrats successfully blocked GOP attempts to prohibit the Justice Department from using federal funds to mount legal challenges to state immigration laws. And they blocked a GOP-backed rider that would have stopped ICE from prioritizing the deportation of dangerous criminals and instead forced the agency to target all groups, including the children of illegal immigrants.
As we wrote this morning, it is once again an election year, and Republicans have made no course corrections from the path that doomed them in 2012. How many times are they looking to be punished by Latino voters, before they really get wise, pass immigration reform, and embrace policies that don’t make them toxic to Latino and immigrant voters?