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As Democrats Seek to Get Meaningful Immigration Results, Republicans Seek to Whip Up Fears and Lies for Political Purposes

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Washington, DC – Democrats are pressing forward on plans to get the results the American people demand and undocumented immigrants have earned. The immigration provisions in the Build Back Better legislative package will deliver popular and meaningful relief and security for millions of immigrant families. 

As Democrats seek to enact good policy, even if it does not go as far as it should, many observers focus exclusively on the process nuances and inside Washington baseball.  But, let’s not lose sight of why Democrats must rely on the byzantine reconciliation process in the first place. The tortured “reconciliation” process starts with Republican obstruction.

Republicans are intent to block any positive progress on immigration, and through lies and strategic racism and nativism, are attempting to again whip up fears over immigrants and the provisions in BBB, all for ugly political purposes. See below for examples and reminders:

  • Governor Greg Abbott’s (R-TX) ugly demagoguery blasted by human rights groups as “misleading and dangerous”: Gov. Abbott is again seeking to whip up fears over the newest COVID strain and connect it to his lies about the southern border. His recent tweet, “Biden banned travel from South Africa because of the new Covid variant. Immigrants have recently been apprehended crossing our border illegally from South Africa. Biden is doing nothing to stop immigrants from South Africa entering illegally. Pure politics and hypocrisy” is filled with lies and the ugly racial trope of immigrants of color as disease carriers. As Ari Sawyer of Human Rights Watch noted in response, “It’s never been about COVID-19. It’s always been about blocking asylum seekers and blocking migrants … What we have seen from Abbott is this use of of a lot of white supremacist rhetoric around migrants who are coming … The sort of great replacement theory rhetoric that was used by the Texas Walmart shooter in El Paso. It’s very dangerous rhetoric.”
  • Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), on step four of the “Cornyn Con”: Sen. Cornyn is up to his old tricks on immigration: pretending he’s interested in a bipartisan breakthrough so that he can actually try and derail immigration reform legislation and blame Democrats. He’s so predictable that we can squarely position his recent immigration quotes in a recent Roll Call story as Step 4 in the “Cornyn Con”. As Suzanne Monyak reported, Senator Cornyn “sees a ‘number of areas’ where Republicans would come to the table on immigration, such as protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. But he wasn’t particularly optimistic that the two political parties could reach a consensus. ‘I think the Democrats have given up on it. They’d just rather use this as an issue in the next election rather than solve the problem.’”
  • Stephen Miller seeking to inflame the Republican nativist base with lies about the immigration provisions in BBB. Miller’s Twitter feed is an unhinged snapshot of the ugly nativist base of the GOP and is filled with efforts to lie about the immigration provisions of the BBB. A recent tweet noted “While our border is melting, Democrat leaders are racing to enact history’s largest amnesty for illegals via BBB.”
  • The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) is similarly leaning into lies and nativism for political purposes, tweeting today, “A new CBO report shows more than 6.5M illegal immigrants would receive amnesty & tax-payer funded benefits in Dems’ “Build Back Better” plan. Illegal immigration will get worse because Dems are literally paying migrants if they come. #BidenBorderCrisis” and ran Facebook ads in late November that read, “ILLEGAL immigrants broke the law & Biden wants to PAY THEM for their crimes. STOP BIDEN’S CRIMINAL PAYOUT.”

As immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick observed in response to the “amnesty” claims (also deployed by conservative Washington Examiner columnists and reporters): 

“I remember a time (weeks ago) when ‘amnesty’ meant a path to citizenship. Now the right wing is casting even parole—limited, temporary, and fragile a bit like DACA—as an ‘amnesty.’ If only!”

As a reminder, the immigration provisions of BBB would provide meaningful relief for more than 7 million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for an average of 20 years. The provisions are broadly popular with the strong majority of the American people, including by an overwhelming 81-17% margin in a recent Global Strategy Group and Garin-Hart-Yang poll of likely 2022 midterm voters in more than 30 congressional districts across the country. 

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice, 

“The work permits and deportation protections in the BBB legislation will benefit millions of immigrants who are Americans in all but paperwork and have stepped up for all of us during COVID and kept us fed, kept us safe, and kept our economy moving. At a time when our continued economic recovery depends on the hard work and contributions of all in America, it is imperative that we include immigrant workers and their families. We could not survive COVID without our immigrant workforce and we cannot fully recover without them either. 

Rather than look to reward the very workers who have remained steady and strong to keep American moving forward during the pandemic, Republicans are deliberately blocking any steps forward on immigration. Instead, they seek to inflame the debate through fear-mongering, lies and nativism – seeking to block good policy outcomes for raw political purposes. 

My message to Democrats is stand up to Republican obstruction and deliver results Americans want. Work together to deliver for immigrants, America and our economy and realize the best political response to strategic racism and obstruction is to enact good policy that changes all of our lives for the better.”