Congressional Republicans are meeting this week for a two-hour discussion about immigration, where the GOP are trying to square the circle between Paul Ryan’s strategy on immigration and the Dreamers (aka letting hardliners do almost whatever they want), and a more bipartisan approach that could help save dozens of moderate Republicans from being thrown out of office this fall.
Why are these moderate Republicans pushing the issue now? Well, the fact that it’s an election year surely has something to do with it.
But remember: Congressional Republicans — who own the House, Senate, and White House — haven’t done anything for Dreamers since Donald Trump ended DACA last September. Paul Ryan has been following the lead of immigration extremists in Congress and has allowed multiple anti-immigrant votes. So far, Republicans who are more moderate on immigration haven’t done anything to push back. Around a couple dozen of them have signed onto a discharge petition for Dreamer legislation, but that isn’t equivalent to pushing for a real vote.
Congressional Republicans have had no fewer than seven chances on budget issues alone to act on legislation for Dreamers. Unlike their Freedom Caucus colleagues who use these votes to secure their priorities, they’ve taken none of them. If some “moderates” are making goodwill gestures now that this is an election year, the effort is worth little unless they can actually secure a vote.
- Continuing funding resolutions were passed in September 2017, December 2017, January 2018, and February 2018. Pro-immigration reform Republicans could at any point have made passage of Dreamer legislation a condition of their support for these budget resolutions, but they didn’t. Paul Ryan was telling conservatives that DACA was going to be part of the spending deal, but no one forced his hand.
- Same story with the March 2018 budget deal — when a yearlong budget was finally signed, there was no effort by Republicans to attach Dreamer legislation to the bill.
- In February, the Senate voted on four immigration measures. Two of them would have provided a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Almost all Democrats voted for both of the bills, but not enough Republicans joined in support to pass legislation.