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Three Major Obstacles to Enacting a Bipartisan Dreamer Deal: John Cornyn, Bob Goodlatte, and Stephen Miller

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Despite uncertainty about the ongoing policy negotiations over Dreamers’ legislation, we know a few things for sure:

  • Dreamers urgently need a permanent solution that puts them on a path to citizenship;
  • Only Congress can enact that permanent solution;
  • Given the way Trump’s termination of DACA has upended the lives of Dreamers, and given the way Congress functions, the only way for legislation to get enacted is for a deal to be hatched in the Senate, embraced by the White House and included in a spending deal by January 19th; and
  • When Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and White House aide Stephen Miller get into the mix, batten down the hatches and make sure the children are safe, because these three are intent on delaying, derailing and defeating a bipartisan Dreamer deal.

While Miller, Cornyn, and Goodlatte offer different public profiles, they share a history of and a commitment to killing sensible immigration reforms:

Senator John Cornyn: In December, we described the “Cornyn Con” on immigration. Here’s how it works: Cornyn pretends he wants to get immigration reform enacted and offers to be a good faith negotiating partner in policy discussions. Cornyn then offers just enough to appear reasonable to Republicans, while ensuring Democrats can never agree to his bottom line; finally, he proclaims that Democrats are demanding too much and tries to take with him as many Republicans as possible in order to kill off the bipartisan deal. The “Cornyn Con” has been used by the senior senator from Texas in 2006, 2007, and 2013. He’s perfected the move and he’s at it again. What does this mean right now? The group that met yesterday — composed of Cornyn, Kevin McCarthy, Dick Durbin and Steny Hoyer — is not a group that’s going anywhere. We’re pretty sure Cornyn’s intention is to delay and derail a deal in hopes that Republicans will have more leverage once the crisis engulfing Dreamers becomes even more intense in March.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte: The new House GOP legislation from House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and allies introduced a Republicans-only bill yesterday that pairs 100% of the nativist agenda with 5% of the Democrat’s agenda. The New York Times described Goodlatte’s bill as “a vision of immigration policy that clashed fiercely with President Trump’s recent overtures of bipartisanship.” No wonder he is loved by NumbersUSA, a nativist group and member of the John Tanton network, earning a career ‘A’ rating from the group and even receiving a “Blue Ribbon” award from the organization in 2010. In 2014, Goodlatte said of Dreamers, “Whether they came in illegally or whether they entered the country legally and overstayed a visa or a visa waiver, they should be required to leave. That’s what the law says and that’s how the law should be enforced.” As Lorella Praeli of the ACLU said in the New York Times piece, the Goodlatte bill is a “collection of hard-line provisions designed to sabotage, rather than advance, the possibility of a bipartisan breakthrough.”

Stephen Miller: Anita Kumar’s recent McClatchy profile of Stephen Miller’s role in the Dreamer debate captured how negatively he is viewed by fellow Republicans!

Here’s one thing even Republicans negotiating an immigration deal agree on: Trump aide Stephen Miller is hurting their chances of getting anything done.

They blame him for insisting the administration gets approval for an unrealistic number of immigration policies in exchange for protections for young people brought into the country illegally as children. They loathe his intensity when delivering his hardline views. And they accuse him of coordinating with outside advocacy groups that oppose their efforts.

“It’s no secret that he’s an obstacle to getting anything done on immigration,” said a Republican House member involved in the immigration talks.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

We have a decent chance at a decent deal, but not if these three are anywhere near to the effort. As the debate unfolds in the coming days, beware of snakes in the grass.