tags: Press Releases

Why the Congressional Failure to Modernize Immigration Empowers GOP Radicalism

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Washington, DC – By failing to act in the interests of the overwhelming majority of the American people’s wishes to deliver long-overdue legislation to reform our immigration system, Congress has delegated its authority to Trump-appointed judges and Republican Attorneys General. This opens the door to cheap and failed political stunts by Republican elected officials, rather than the solutions favored by a strong majority of the American people. 

See below for examples of just some of the recent consequences of the congressional failure to modernize our immigration laws:

  • Empowering the anti-immigrant judicial pipeline of Republican judges and Republican state Attorneys General. Yesterday, a Trump-appointed district judge in Louisiana granted a request from multiple Republican state Attorneys General against Biden administration efforts to lift the Title 42 policy. The judge appears to have temporarily enjoined the Biden administration from taking steps to prepare for the order’s scheduled May 23 lifting, handcuffing the very agencies that need to prepare. And today, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case on MPP/Remain in Mexico that also came up through the anti-immigrant judicial pipeline. Republican state AGs brought a case to a Trump-appointed judge in the 5th Circuit so it would travel through a GOP-controlled passageway to the Republican majority on the Supreme Court. As several preview pieces capture, today’s case will have major implications beyond just the future of the Remain in Mexico program, including the executive branch’s ability to conduct foreign policy in the face of conservative judicial activism. These are not decisions that should be made by political appointees serving as AGs in red states or wearing black robes as Trump-appointed judges. But in the absence of congressional action on immigration reform, our distorted and disfigured political and judicial system becomes more antidemocratic.  
  • Empowering ugly and damaging Republican political stunts and dangerous rhetoric. The vacuum created by the lack of immigration reform is being exploited and filled by Republicans performing stunts to get on Fox News. From the $15 billion border wall that’s cut through with a $15 handsaw, to Gov. Greg Abbott’s truck inspections that cost our economy billions and found zero drugs, these Republican stunts come with real costs. Meanwhile, the accompanying GOP rhetoric to justify these wasteful actions increasingly rely on dangerous “invasion” and “replacement” conspiracies – despite the deadly consequences of doing so. See this James Downie column in the Washington Post for more on the “dark truth” of the GOP’s border posturing.
  • Contributing to the myopia over border arrivals and reliance on deterrence policies. Our short-term myopia over the monthly border numbers obscures a longer-term and broader reality: forced migration is an escalating reality in our hemisphere and America badly needs to modernize our entire migration management and mitigation strategy so we can reduce migration pressures that show up at our southern border. The tools exist, and the public supports them. What’s lacking is the congressional will to legislate what’s needed: expanded legal channels and a serious long-term strategy to alleviate the root causes of forced migration in our region and hemisphere. Republicans refuse to work with Democrats to do just that. They want to build the wall and name it after Trump. They want to feed their base a steady diet of fear and hate. They see immigration as a wedge issue to be wielded rather than a challenge to be solved. As a result, the debate becomes about apprehension numbers at the border as if that is a measure of anything other than the failure to put in place a modernized immigration system.

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

The continued failure of Congress to fix our immigration system has set up an ideal political landscape for Republicans to pull stunts, mainstream conspiracy theories, and run hard on nativism. It’s by design. The GOP blocks immigration reform in Congress, packs the courts with partisan judges that activate the anti-immigrant judicial pipeline, and Republicans at the state and federal level work together to constrain a Democratic administration from using executive action to improve a badly broken system and fulfill their promises to a majority that put them in office.

Let us not forget that Republicans are still howling and suing in response to President Obama’s executive action creating DACA for young undocumented immigrants. Let us not forget that one Republican judge is forcing the U.S. government to negotiate with Mexico to continue a deeply unpopular Remain in Mexico program. Let us not forget that one Republican judge is prepared to order the extension of Title 42 despite the law that grants the sole authority to the country’s leading public health authorities. 

Meanwhile, Congress is stymied by Republican opposition to the legalization of Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers and essential workers who have risked their lives for a nation that refuses to formally acknowledge their contributions and heroism. Unless and until Congress does what the vast majority of Americans want and finally enacts a workable overhaul of our immigration laws, we will continue to meet the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.