He Should Know Better
Today, the Senate voted to block debate on an extreme anti-immigration measure by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)—legislation designed to take away the President’s DAPA and expanded DACA programs and resume the deportations of millions of people settled in America. Despite having previously voted against House passed legislation that would do away with the President’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) voted in favor to proceed to Sen Collins bill to undo the 2014 executive action.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “In response to our movement’s relentless pressure, in 2012 and 2014 President Obama initiated common-sense immigration policy changes that improve our dysfunctional immigration system and offer work permits and protection to some five million immigrants settled in America and 53,000 in Nevada. Unfortunately, Republicans in both chambers have been on a crusade to nullify these measures by adding riders to must-pass Homeland Security funding, and, today, Senator Heller joined their ranks by voting to move to a bill that would tear apart Nevada families and lose millions for the state’s economy. If Senator Heller thinks he can get away with dashing the dreams of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers eligible for expanded DACA and taking relief away from millions of American families, he will soon learn that the immigration reform movement will fight with all we have to defend what’s been won and work towards expanding it in the future.”
The Collins measure has been roundly rejected by policy experts, faith leaders, DREAMers and unions alike because it would roll back the most important advancement for immigrant rights in decades. Here’s a roundup of their critiques:
- Increases Deficits by a Total of $6.3 Billion through 2025: According to scoringby the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), under Collins’ bill (S. 534), “revenues would be lower by $18.9 billion over the 2016-2025 period, mostly because revenues from Social Security taxes would be lower. In addition, CBO and JCT estimate that direct spending would be lower by $12.6 billion over the same period, mostly because less would be spent for the earned income and child tax credits. On net, according to those estimates, the bill would increase deficits by $6.3 billion over the 2015-2025 period.”
- Deports the DREAMers Who Have Been Here the Longest: This bill would subject the oldest DREAMers—the ones who have been here the longest—once again to deportation. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and prominent immigration reform activist Jose Antonio Vargas summed it up perfectly in a single a tweet: “.@SenatorCollins, why do you want to deport me? How do you @DefineAmerican? #daca #Maine #immigration”.
- Also Puts Parents of U.S. Citizens Back in Line for Deportation: In their letter, United We Dream explained how Collins’ bill is “a direct attack on Dreamers, young people who entered the U.S. as children, and our families.” As Director of Policy and Advocacy for United We Dream furtherexplained, “Sen. Collins’ bill is a non-starter. My mother will qualify for deportation protection because of the new executive action on immigration. Senator Collins suggests that my sister is worthy of staying because she has DACA, but that our mother, Chela, who has sacrificed everything for us, must continue living in fear. The GOP’s immigration antics have succeeded in doing only one thing: further alienating Latino and immigrant community voters. Their latest great idea is a symbolic vote on deporting parents, keeping millions living in fear and dragging our country backwards on immigration – seriously? Maybe one more White House loss will finally teach the GOP Congress that there’s a price to pay for this foolishness.”
- Is Strongly Opposed by the Catholic Bishops:Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, the Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee of Migration, issued a lettercalling on Senators to vote against Collins bill, writing, “With regard to blocking implementation of the DAPA program, it would require the continuation of a policy that places millions of hard-working immigrant families in peril and perpetuates situations of family separation. If S. 534 is enacted into law, U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident children would continue to see their parents deported away from them, leaving them the difficult choice of remaining in the country without their parents or leaving with them to a country they do not know. This is not how our country should treat these U.S. citizens, the future leaders of our nation.” The Bishop added, “In our churches and in our parishes, we see firsthand the devastation of family separation and the family breakdown that results from such separation. For this reason, we strongly oppose S. 534 and ask that you vote against it.”
- Harms Children and Victims of Domestic Violence:According to a letter from the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, Collins’ bill would “harm victims of domestic and sexual violence and ignore their best interests as well as those of their children. We recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (‘VAWA’), which has, since it was first enacted, included critical protections for immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence. The proposed bill undermines protections from removal for victims of domestic and sexual violence and undercuts the spirit of VAWA.”
- Is Bad for American Workers and National Security:AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka criticized the bill for “[stripping] away protections for millions of working families . . . and [undermining] efforts to clarify enforcement priorities.” Steph Sterling, Legislative Director of SEIU, said “it would leave our immigration system in even worse shape than it is now, compromising national security, weakening border security, and damaging the economy. It is not a serious proposal. it is a politically motivated effort that would have damaging, real-word consequences.”
In addition to being a non-starter for all of these reasons and more, the Collins bill is also a non-solution. The only solution is broad, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants who aspire to be Americans. Instead of supporting the Collins bill, Sen. Heller should be pushing his Republican collagues to move a comprehensive bill like the one passed by the Senate in 2013. Senator Heller should know better.