The “Cornyn Con” is Revealed, the GOP Fig-Leaf in Tatters
Washington, DC – Overall, Republicans want to run on ugly anti-immigrant politics in next year’s midterms, not work in good faith toward a bipartisan breakthrough on citizenship for millions this year. The Party of Trump is clinging hard to the Big Lie, racial divisiveness and labeling immigrants as an existential threat to the American way of life. But some key GOP donors are not happy with that approach.
And for good reason. In reality, an overwhelming bipartisan majority of voters want Congress to enact citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers and other essential workers and reject the Republican “border first” excuse for inaction. That is why Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and other several GOP Senators are using the cover of bipartisan immigration discussions to try and delay and eventually derail a breakthrough. Cornyn is again running the “Cornyn Con” – the 2021 edition of the same playbook he followed in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2018 (see here for more).
Thankfully, Republican donors and other leading observers are calling out Republican inaction and bad faith, making it clear that Senators will have to pay a political price for their efforts to scuttle popular and long-overdue solutions, favored by a majority of American and a majority of Republican voters. These donors are even counseling Democrats to, as needed, do it alone to deliver citizenship through the reconciliation process.
In Politico, Laura Barrón-López and Olivia Beavers write, “GOP donors push senators on immigration:
A number of current and former GOP donors are taking aim at Republican senators, accusing them of picking partisan gamesmanship over good-faith efforts to work on immigration reform.
…In particular, a group of Republicans who want to see progress on immigration reform negotiations are critical of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was originally in the 2013 gang of eight that sought to address the overloaded U.S. immigration system, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who represents a border state.
…GOP figures speaking out include board members of the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), who have spoken to 41 Republican senators about the bills. Some who describe themselves as lifelong Republicans say they may start voting across party lines if they don’t see the party bend on immigration.
…Some donors are also encouraging Democrats to simply go it alone through reconciliation on immigration if Republicans can’t get on board.
And in The Hill, Rebecca Beitsch and Rafael Bernal write, “Republican immigration proposal falls flat,” noting:
A joint immigration proposal by two top Senate Republicans was received with jeers among immigration advocates on both sides of the aisle…
… ‘There he goes again. Senator Cornyn has one play, consisting of four steps. This week he’s initiating step two of Cornyn Con. He’s not setting up a bipartisan breakthrough, he’s setting up a partisan blame game,’ said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a progressive immigration advocacy group. ‘Cornyn and the Republicans don’t want to pass immigration reform this year, they want to run against immigration next year.’
…Cornyn’s plan was criticized on its merits in that it would arbitrarily select a group of Dreamers to grant legalization, leaving others out in the lurch, including other potential DACA recipients along with many other people without documentation.
‘It’s carving out a relatively small subset of the undocumented population and pitting them against everyone else, creating tension and conflict and the reality it’s likely intended to derail any immigration reform, period,” said [Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Counsel].’
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Bipartisanship requires both parties to negotiate in good faith. Unfortunately, Republicans are not interested in fixing our broken immigration system this year, they are gearing up to run on an anti-immigrant platform next year. The Republican Party is only interested in playing to its base of primary voters, keeping Donald Trump appeased and stoking racial division. Just witness the ongoing lies, grievances, authoritarian ugliness and nativism on display at CPAC.
While some establishment Republicans want to pretend that they are still supporting bipartisan solutions to American problems, the fig leaf is in tatters and the GOP seems fully committed to making sure nothing positive happens while Biden is in office, even if it is popular.
So Democrats need to lean into solutions, keep their promises and achieve a long overdue breakthrough on citizenship. A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers and other essential workers has overwhelming bipartisan support—including from majorities of Independents and Republicans. We are confident that citizenship for immigrants will qualify for the human infrastructure package under the budget reconciliation rules.
Democrats need to use every tool and every ounce of their power to produce breakthroughs that are popular with American voters and will improve people’s lives. Now is the time to blow past bad faith Republicans and deliver.