Washington, DC – Republican rhetoric used to claim that their opposition to immigration reform was based around the notion of illegality – they didn’t oppose legal immigration, so went the claim, just policies that rewarded those who illegally migrated. Meanwhile, the GOP is relentlessly decrying the numbers of migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border, quick to dust off partisan talking points that condemn border “chaos” and pin blame on Democrats.
Yet when faced with the Biden administration’s parole program – a policy option granted under current law specifically designed to alleviate pressures at the border, reduce resultant chaos and open up new legal pathways – Republicans are howling in opposition.
Making it even more galling, many in the Republican Party still wax eloquently about their commitment to individuals fleeing supposedly repressive socialist and communist regimes in countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Yet the parole program that would specifically expand legal channels for asking for asylum for individuals fleeing these nations, along with Haitians fleeing horrific conditions, is now being targeted by Republicans.
Longtime observers of immigration politics and policy won’t be surprised that Texas Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is front-and-center in the GOP doublespeak and hypocritical opposition. After spending the early parts of this year again trying to burnish his image as an honest broker and bipartisan dealmaker on immigration, Cornyn is unsurprisingly up to his old tricks, attempting to scuttle immigration solutions in favor of obstruction, opposition, and empowering the anti-immigrant wing of the GOP. It’s so typical that we at America’s Voice call the pattern the “Cornyn Con” – the Senator portrays himself as a reasonable-sounding Republican on immigration and border issues, but he blocks solutions and progress at every turn.
As NPR Dallas affiliate KERA reports,
“U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said Monday he’ll introduce a resolution to block a proposal by the Biden administration that would allow tens of thousands of migrants to live and work in the United States while their asylum claims play out in court.
In late January, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the program will allow up to 30,000 people from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti to be paroled into the country under current immigration laws as they seek relief in the United States … The migrants need to apply for the protection in their home countries, will be subject to a background and security check and will need a sponsor in the United States that can offer financial support.”
In addition to Senator Cornyn and congressional GOP opposition, Republican-led states, including Texas, are relying on their anti-immigrant judicial pipeline to challenge the parole program in the courts.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“Of course John Cornyn is playing his usual two-faced role on immigration policy, trying to obstruct progress and solutions that would help the United States manage migration, while he and his Texas Republican colleagues attack and sue in the courts. Usually, Cornyn is more careful to mask his opposition to immigrants and immigration in nice sounding, non-committal pro-immigrant rhetoric, but now he seems content to oppose any and all forms of legal entry for immigrants, while he continues to make sure that millions of immigrants already here remain vulnerable and deportable by blocking any efforts at reform.
These Republicans are opposed even to legal pathways for asylum seekers attempting to follow the law and seek pre-approval from the U.S. government. The parole program not only seeks to alleviate pressures at the border, but would provide new legal pathways for those fleeing from socialist, communist and authoritarian regimes. But none of that matters to John Cornyn and today’s GOP, who prefer the chaos of the broken immigration status quo to serious efforts at solutions.”