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Memo: After Sabotaging Solutions, GOP Lawmakers Head to Border To Treat Migrant Children As Political Props and Push Cruel Policies That Don’t Work

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Republican lawmakers traveling to the border this week are once again using migrant children as political props to double down on their inhumane, ineffective and deeply unpopular immigration policies.

The GOP lawmakers—including Reps. Scalise, Davis, McCaul, Nunes, Hudson, Hill, Latta, Malliotakis, Stivers, Wagner, and Womack—claim to care about the situation at the border and the health and safety of these children, but the truth is they’ve sabotaged commonsense immigration solutions at every turn:

  • 2010: House Republicans overwhelmingly opposed the DREAM Act, with only eight Republicans joining 208 Democrats to pass the bill.
  • 2013: House Republicans killed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that would have provided a pathway to citizenship to immigrants in the US, increased border security, and expanded and streamlined legal immigration.
  • 2016: House Republicans passed a resolution granting House Speaker Paul Ryan the authority to file an amicus brief opposing DAPA and DACA+.
  • 2021: Far too many House Republicans opposed two bipartisan bills to provide a pathway to citizenship to many immigrants in the US.

And they’ve used their positions of power to advocate for wildly ineffective and cruel policies instead.

But the truth is that the cruel, Trumpian policies that these members want Biden to return to just didn’t work:

  • From 2017 to 2019 the number of border apprehensions increased every year as Trump’s presidency progressed.
  • In 2018, roughly 163,000 family members were apprehended at the border, more than three times the number in 2017 and the highest number since 2012.
  • The current increase in border activity began last April, as from April 2020 through December 2020 there was a 332 percent increase in border encounters.
  • As Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Council, recently articulated, “Ratcheting up the cruelty at the border does nothing but inflict unnecessary harm while doing little to prevent people from coming.”

These policies are also deeply unpopular as an overwhelming majority of voters support immigration policies that keep families safe and together while also growing our economy. 

What will work is the United States safely and humanely processing immigrants coming to the Southern border like in the Biden administration’s ten-step plan:

  1. Invest in Central America to address the root causes of migration
  2. Establish refugee processing in the region
  3. Strengthen and support the humanitarian response of countries in the region
  4. Create legal channels for people to migrate from Central America
  5. Target entities perpetrating violence in the region
  6. Expand penalties and financial sanctions on narcotics traffickers, smugglers, and gangs
  7. Target messaging to the region on the dangers of migration
  8. Install more technology and infrastructure on the border
  9. Restore efficient, humane, asylum processing
  10. Pass immigration reform legislation

Instead of posing for the cameras and using migrant children’s suffering as a photo-op, Republicans should support the Biden administration’s plan to achieve durable solutions.