Democrats face slim chance of securing immigration deal before 2023
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Democrats are “crazy” trying to push for a deal now: “I think they’re just trying to do it, probably, to please some activist groups.” And the senator. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), Rubio’s only remaining GOP partner on the 2013 bill brokered by the so-called « Gang of Eight, » says « there’s no way you’re bringing anyone from our side to make an immigration bill with a broken border.
It’s the latest setback on the subject for immigration reform supporters, who are on track to end two years of unified Democratic rule in Washington without meaningful progress. Senate Democrats have yet to introduce an immigration bill, and the two narrower immigration bills the House has passed in Congress have never made it to Capitol Hill.
There was talk of efforts in the upper house, led by Sens. Michael Benet (D-Colo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), to move the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the House focused on easing visas for agricultural workers before 2023, but that could prove a heavy burden. And even that small step won’t dispel the somber atmosphere of the afternoon for advocates who see a closing window for Congress to offer legal status to undocumented immigrants.
It’s « a long shot, but we’re still going to try, » Durbin said of the lame duck. Another option for Democrats: introduce an immigration bill and force Republicans to vote.
Still, any December roll call could be a replay of the last time the House moved from Democratic to Republican control. In 2010, most GOP senators and a handful of Democrats blocked a bill that would have given the Dreamers legal status, ultimately leading then-President Barack Obama to take action. executive actions.
Now Democrats and immigration advocates say there is added urgency after an appeals court ruling in October left the fate of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States uncertain. that they were children. The court ruled the DACA program illegal, but said current beneficiaries of eviction protections would not be affected by the litigation. Lawyers predict the case will end up in the Supreme Court.
« It’s not like we’re five years old, » said Raha Wala, vice president of strategic partnerships and advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center. « Current DACA recipients are in this limbo, really fearing that the Supreme Court will make a final ruling that, ‘Yes, this thing is illegal and you’re out of luck.' »
These dire conditions give Republicans no incentive to produce the 10 votes the Senate needs to pass anything. In fact, compromise politics on immigration has become more difficult for the GOP since the Senate passed the « Gang of Eight » bill with 14 Republican votes.
Former President Donald Trump, who crushed the last real attempt at a bipartisan immigration bill in 2018, is a major factor in this. And now, Senate Republicans are emerging from a recent inside-party fight after making increased border crossings a central part of their 2022 campaign message.
Sen. Josh Haley (R-Mo.) said there would be an « unimaginable » backlash against Republicans if they made a deal now with Democrats. And some Republicans, like Graham, have suggested they want to wait for the new GOP-controlled House to send a border security bill before proceeding.
Even so, Democrats say behind the scenes, Republicans are showing interest — even if they don’t publicly admit it.
“I’ve talked a lot about it to my Republican colleagues. Many of them, like me, think Dreamers should at least have a path to citizenship,” Sen said. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona).
GOP attention on the border is only expected to increase after a judge last week blocked the use of “Title 42,” a Trump-era pandemic border restriction that the Biden administration has continued to impose. apply, causing Democratic divisions.
“It would be very difficult. We have a very short period,” the senator said. Chris Coon (D-Delete). “There is an openness to discussions. The question is: is there an opening for action?
Last year, Democrats attempted to pursue immigration reform, including a path to legal status, along party lines. But it went against the House’s budget restraints, prompting the Senate rules arbiter to dismiss their multiple attempts. And while a bipartisan group of senators have come together on immigration, they are far from an agreement.
Sen. Thomas Tillis (RN.C.), which participates in these bipartisan discussions, said it won’t get any easier next year.
« If we don’t get an agreement, I don’t think we’ll deal with it for two to four years, » he said. « It could be difficult in a divided Congress. »
Even if there isn’t a floor vote on a standalone immigration bill, it’s possible a smaller-scale proposal will fit into a year-end spending package. However, that deadline is fast approaching on December 16 and any proposal would require the Senate Minority Leader to sign on. Mitch McConnell as well as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
It would also take 10 Republican votes in the Senate.