Vanessa Cárdenas: “The failure to enact a popular immigration breakthrough this year is a sad encapsulation of the Republican Party’s extremism and preference for political stunts instead of problem solving”
Washington, DC – Yesterday, news reports confirmed that the Senate will not move forward immigration legislation modeled after the Tillis-Sinema bipartisan framework.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“The failure to enact a popular immigration breakthrough this year is a sad encapsulation of the Republican Party’s extremism and preference for political stunts instead of problem solving. The opportunity was at hand for a bipartisan compromise that included provisions that even tilted heavier in the direction of long standing Republican priorities, but that still couldn’t overcome the GOP’s desire for ‘border first’ excuses for inaction and desire to have a so-called ‘crisis’ to run on and raise money off of. No one should harbor any illusion that the GOP insistence to focus on the border is anything more than cynical ploy fear and division.
The news is both unsurprising and simultaneously devastating for Dreamers and our economy. Despite the depressing news, nothing has changed about several related fundamentals: citizenship for Dreamers remains an overwhelmingly popular issue in poll after poll; the urgency of action for Dreamers remains, especially due to the impending end of DACA; and our economy calls out for more legal immigrant workers. Unfortunately, the gamesmanship and obstruction of John Cornyn and others touting Republican excuses for inaction haven’t changed either.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent weighed in on the demise of the legislation, rightfully highlighting:
“What’s deeply frustrating about this moment is that the fundamental principles underlying reform were real and workable … For some Republicans, particularly in the Donald Trump era, the only real “solution” to these problems is to reduce the number of immigrants accepted to as low a number as possible, regardless of the human rights consequences. So they won’t support such a compromise by definition.
Others probably see little political incentive in doing so. Our infrastructure is set to come under more strain once Title 42 is lifted, and contributing to solving the problem would provide less political payoff to Republicans than keeping the “border crisis” issue to wield against President Biden and Democrats in 2024.”
Meanwhile, a separate Washington Post story yesterday captured the missed opportunity to bolster our economy by continued legislative inaction and GOP nativism: “Trump, Covid slowed down immigration. Now employers can’t find workers,” by Abha Bhattarai and Lauren Kaori Gurley, notes that, “Economists estimate that ‘two years of lost immigration’ is responsible for close to half of the 3.5 million workers missing from the labor force.” And now thanks to GOP Senators’ inaction legislatively and Republican legal challenges’ successes in Trump-stacked courts, hundreds of thousands of existing DACA workers are set to join these missing immigrant workers. All of us will pay the costs and consequences.
And for Republicans like John Cornyn dusting off the “border security first” excuse for inaction, no one should be fooled by that excuse. It’s a coded way to say “legalization never” and has always given a policy-sounding argument for Republicans to continually move the goalposts so that nothing is done for Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants.
It goes something like this: We can’t reform immigration until the border is secure, but the border can be deemed ‘not yet secure’ because some people still get across or are able to lawfully claim asylum at ports of entry. As the Wall Street Journal once editorialized: the real goal of Republicans who claim we must ‘secure the border first’ “isn’t border security. It is to use border security as an excuse to kill immigration reform.”
Unfortunately, killing immigration reform is once again the outcome. What a shame.