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Politics Biden wades into immigration morass that has stymied other presidents

14:56  22 february  2021
14:56  22 february  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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President Biden is hoping to succeed where the last three presidents have failed by proposing his own legislation revamping immigration.

a man sitting on a table © Provided by Washington Examiner

While diametrically opposed to former President Donald Trump’s approach, the Biden-backed immigration bill follows in the footsteps of unsuccessful pushes by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to increase legal immigration and offer a pathway to citizenship for most illegal immigrants in the United States.

Except Biden’s plan offers fewer concessions to Republicans on issues such as border security despite Democrats having a smaller Senate majority than when they last tried to pass a big immigration bill.

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  The immigration debate has a blind spot The change in immigration policy that could most affect the US' long-term economic growth is at risk of falling out of the debate as the congressional maneuvering over the volatile issue intensifies. © George Frey/Getty Images In this April 10, 2019, file photo, an applicant holds an American flag and a packet while waiting to take the oath to become a US citizen at a naturalization ceremony in Salt Lake City.

That was the Gang of Eight deal in 2013, which won the votes of 14 Republican senators but couldn’t win over the GOP majority in the House. Then-Speaker John Boehner wouldn’t even bring it up for a vote. A similar fate befell multiple similar proposals under Bush.

HOW THE BIDEN IMMIGRATION BILL COULD PASS

Biden’s immigration overhaul is in many respects to the left of that Obama-era package. While the Gang of Eight abolished the diversity visa lottery, as many GOP immigration hawks wanted to do and which the Trump administration later endorsed, Biden would expand it from 55,000 visas to 80,000. The Gang of Eight shifted some legal immigration away from family reunification to skills-based admissions. Biden would raise the per-country green card limit for family-based immigration. Republicans are split on removing the per-country green card limit for relatively high-skilled immigrants, as the Biden plan would do.

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Unlike the Gang of Eight bill that actually passed the Senate, this proposal does little to grow funding for border security. It does not increase patrols, and physical barriers are now anathema to many Democrats as Trump’s “build the wall” battle cry. Biden has already halted border wall construction by executive order.

Only two Republican members of the original Gang of Eight still serve in the Senate. One is Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has already come out against Biden’s immigration framework as offering “blanket amnesty.” Rubio is up for reelection next year in a state Trump won twice, and his two top staffers worked at the conservative Heritage Action, which worked against the Gang of Eight.

The other is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has remained supportive of relative leniency toward undocumented immigrants and increased legal immigration levels. But Graham is also a close Trump ally and has indicated he prefers a less sweeping bill than what Biden has endorsed.

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Groups that have worked to kill previous immigration bills have already come out swinging against this one. “This amnesty would be the largest in U.S. history, promising citizenship to nearly 14.5 million people,” said Dan Stein, president of the hawkish Federation for American Immigration Reform, in a statement. “They do not even have to live here, as the proposal allows any illegal alien who was deported by the Trump administration to return and receive the amnesty as well. The legislation is wide-reaching, and even extends legal status to illegal aliens convicted of multiple crimes.”

"Pushing controversial and divisive Amnesty legislation for illegals at this time is the worst thing Biden could do to an already deeply wounded and divided nation," said William Gheen, spokesman for Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, in a statement.

The Republican National Committee on Friday circulated a media report in which border-state Democrats expressed concern about the Biden administration’s immigration policies. “But far from listening to the warnings coming from people in their own party, Biden and Democrat leadership are proposing amnesty for over 11 million illegal immigrants without any meaningful increases in border security funding,” said GOP rapid response director Tommy Pigott. “One White House official even astonishingly insisted, ‘There is no need for added enforcement mechanisms.’”

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"The overall tenor of the bill is to really invite more people into the country," said John Hostettler, who oversees the Right on Immigration initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "This is just going to exacerbate the problem at the border. The border is going to see a strain that we haven’t really seen even in 2019."

Late in the Bush administration and early in Obama’s tenure, supporters of increased immigration and a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented began trying to establish their credibility on enforcement in order to win bipartisan backing for their proposals. But by midway through the Obama administration, House Republicans remained opposed to what they thought of as amnesty and immigrant activists began calling the Democratic president the “deporter-in-chief.”

Biden distanced himself from Obama’s enforcement record on the campaign trail, and congressional Democrats behind the new bill made clear they were abandoning that strategy, at least for now. “We have compromised too much and capitulated too quickly to fringe voices who have refused to accept the humanity and contributions of immigrants to our country,” Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, told reporters. Menendez was a member of the Gang of Eight in 2013.

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“The president's priorities, reflected in this bill, are to responsibly manage the border, keep families together, grow our economy, address the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensure that America remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. “The president believes all of these require immediate action that is long overdue. Immigration reform is not historically a Democratic or Republican priority, but an American one.”

Hostettler, a former Indiana Republican congressman, chaired the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims when it rejected similar Bush-backed immigration bills in 2005-2006. Many Republicans felt shortchanged by the immigration compromise they had tried to strike under President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

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"Amnesty went to millions of people who came into the country illegally, but the border situation has never really been resolved," Hostettler said.

Tags: News, White House, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Immigration, Border Security, Gang of Eight

Original Author: W. James Antle III

Original Location: Biden wades into immigration morass that has stymied other presidents

Immigration a focus as Biden holds virtual talks with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador .
President Joe Biden’s efforts to chart a new course on immigration continues with a virtual meeting with Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.Biden has started to unwind several of former President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policies, and he’s promised better relations with Mexico.

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