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The Way Forward in Congress on Immigration is Clear

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“If Democrats move forward, go big and deliver change, the country will bounce back from the deadly pandemic and the cruel Trump years stronger and more united than ever.”

 

Congress is gearing up to deliver a long overdue breakthrough on citizenship legislation. Here are three reasons why.

Bipartisan immigration discussions going nowhere because of bad faith Republicans

We used to fight for bipartisan immigration reform. We respect those who do. But Senator John McCain has left us, Senator Jeff Flake has left the Senate, Senator Marco Rubio has no spine, and Lindsey Graham has no soul. This leaves Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in the driver’s seat. On immigration reform, Cornyn is infamous for pretending yes, getting to no, and both-sidesing the blame game. It’s dubbed the Cornyn Con, and it’s the playbook he’s followed in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2018.

Just recently, in a letter, Cornyn and Thom Tillis (R-NC) offered to protect a small number of Dreamers – those with “active” DACA – and to pair that with an open amendment process to include “border security, interior enforcement and employment verification.” In addition, the Cornyn/Tillis letter spoke of “permanent legal status” and not a commitment to citizenship. Yesterday, Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) dismissed the offer as a non-starter.

Republican supporters and donors are also onto the Cornyn Con and Republican bad faith. Politico just highlighted this in a piece quoting numerous pro-immigrant GOP supporters and donors angry at GOP inaction, gamesmanship and obstruction. In an open letter to Senator Cornyn, Texas Republican Stan Marek wrote

..I am deeply disappointed…Your proposal would cover only those currently with DACA and a number of Dreamers well below the threshold of where the majority of Americans think it should be. In addition, numerous ‘poison pills’ from the Republican immigration wish list should be negotiated, not dictated. The press release offers little hope for compromise, and I hope your statement does not endanger the futures of the millions of Dreamers clinging to their hope for the American Dream.

“Budget reconciliation is clearest path for immigration reform we’ve had in decades”

A new op-ed in The Hill from Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) captures the views of Democrats: 

We know that as recently as this past April, a bipartisan group of senators has been holding immigration talks to explore the possibility of finally passing long-awaited immigration reform legislation. If these negotiations fail to prove fruitful — which, as it appears, may be attributed to our Republican colleagues refusing to negotiate in good faith — we will be forced to turn to the one tool we have left.

Budget reconciliation, a process that provides a narrow path to passing some types of legislation with a simple majority, offers a path forward. And it is not unprecedented for reconciliation legislation to include immigration reforms, either. In fact, a Republican-controlled Senate did it in 2005 when changes to immigration policy were included as part of a larger budget reconciliation package.

…The path forward is clear, and if Republicans continue on their tirade of obstructionism, we will be left with no other choice but to move forward unilaterally — for the people.

AP national wire: Democrats prepare budget reconciliation on way forward for immigration

Alan Fram writes in an AP story out today

Congressional Democrats and immigration advocates are staring at their best chance in years to overcome Republican opposition and give millions of people in the U.S. without legal authorization a way to become citizens.

… In an early budget draft, Sanders proposed creating multiyear pathways to legal permanent residency, and potentially citizenship, for four groups of immigrants without legal status. These are people brought illegally to the U.S. as children, called ‘Dreamers’; others who fled violence or disasters in certain countries; essential workers; and farmworkers.

… ‘People are fed up with empty promises,’ said Lorella Praeli, co-president of the progressive group, Community Change Action and a We Are Home leader. ‘Focus on the people who elected you.’

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

As part of its Build Back Better agenda, Democrats are gearing up to move on jobs, care, climate and citizenship. During the pandemic, millions of hard working immigrants have been delivering vital services to keep America going. The least we can do as a country is to thank them and create pathways to citizenship for them. In addition, it is time for Democrats to keep their promises and honor Dreamers, those here with Temporary Protected Status and farm workers by delivering the path to citizenship that has been blocked for decades. If Democrats move forward, go big and deliver change, the country will bounce back from the deadly pandemic and the cruel Trump years stronger and more united than ever.