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Immigration 101: Who is John Cornyn and What is the Cornyn Con?

 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is infamous within the immigration policy world for always talking a good game about passing immigration reform. But here’s the thing to remember: for more than a decade now, he’s blocked reform at every step.

As the senior senator from a state with a Latino majority, Cornyn should be trying to help Texas’ immigrants and opposing the 1,200-mile border wall (which would be built on private land and poses a lasting threat to the environment). Latinos in Texas comprise 38 percent of the population, and the state is home to 124,000 DACA recipients. Most Texas voters – nearly 60 percent – oppose deporting Dreamers, according to a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. You would think that Sen. Cornyn would be a major champion for Dreamers and immigrant protections. He’s not.

Cornyn’s record on immigration

There is no way that Sen. Cornyn can be trusted,” said Mario Carrillo, head of America’s Voice Texas, said, warning that Cornyn won’t do anything “that doesn’t appease the right-wing members of Congress and the right-wing nationalists in the administration.”

Cornyn is a key player in the continued failure to pass immigration reform because of his repeated history of voting against many legislative attempts, such as the 2010 Dream Act. Critics cite his record of continually throwing roadblocks in previous immigration debates, especially during the 2013 comprehensive immigration overhaul crafted by the “Gang of Eight.”

The “proof is in the pudding,” as they say. Cornyn’s record on immigration — and how he has repeatedly stymied reform despite claiming that he supports it — follows below:

  • In 2006-7, during the immigration reform debate, Cornyn repeatedly introduced poison-pill amendments to undermine any potential for passage. After the bill’s defeat in 2007 thanks in no small part to Cornyn, he had the audacity to deliver a speech on the Senate floor about the need to pass immigration reform.
  • In 2010, Cornyn voted against the Dream Act proving once again that he is unable to “walk the talk” in support of immigration reform or legislation to help Dreamers.
  • On Jan. 2011, Cornyn received the “Biggest Hypocrite on Immigration” award by America’s Voice for consistently voting against immigration reform. In an effort to curry favor with the Hispanic Leadership Network Conference, Cornyn reiterated his “commitment to overhauling immigration.”
  • In 2013, Cornyn had a chance to pass an immigration reform bill, but he worked to help  kill it instead by exercising his pattern of delay, delay, delay and introducing an amendment to S. 744. The Gang of Eight viewed his maneuver as an effort to tank the overhaul, and derided the measure as cost-prohibitive, logistically improbable, and a “poison pill.”
  • On Dec. 2017, America’s Voice described the “Cornyn Con” and the process by which Cornyn has been trying to play both sides of the political aisle while helping to sink  immigration reform in 2006, 2007 and 2013.
  • On Dec. 5, 2017, the Cornyn-Grassley bill was introduced. The bill would create incredibly weak protections for Dreamers in exchange for a host of anti-immigrant provisions that would harm millions.
  • On Jan. 3, 2018, Cornyn included a DACA fix paired with a border security package to his list of 2018 priorities. While talking a good con game for supporting the Dream Act, Cornyn continues to turn a deaf ear on more than 80 percent of Americans, including two-thirds of Republicans, who support Dreamers and want them to remain in the U.S. In Texas, an overwhelming majority of Latinos – 89 percent – want passage of the Dream Act. In fact, a Sept. Fox News Poll found 79 percent of Americans overall, and 63 percent of Trump voters, believe DACA Dreamers should be granted citizenship. That’s right not just legal status but the opportunity to become Americans.
  • On Jan. 11, 2018, America’s Voice warned that Cornyn was becoming a major obstacle to enacting a bipartisan Dreamer deal. He continues exerting the “Cornyn Con” by feigning interest in being a good faith negotiator, while continuing his pattern of delaying and derailing, similar to 2006, 2007 and 2013.
  • In February 2018, Cornyn endorsed Donald Trump’s extremist and anti-immigrant framework, which has not received support from either Democrats or moderate Republicans. Since the framework would cut legal immigration, turn women and children seeking asylum away at the border, increase deportations, and is considered dead on arrival, Cornyn clearly does not intend to further real immigration reform efforts by supporting it.
  • He also claimed that Republicans “offered the sun and the moon and that wasn’t enough” for Democrats on DACA — a laughable idea considering that Senate Republicans were the ones who didn’t vote for February amendments that could have protected Dreamers.