WASHINGTON — On the second day of immigration debate in the Senate, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared that Democrats could be blamed for the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program predicament “only in a Kafkaesque, ‘1984’ world.”
“President Trump somehow thinks that Democrats will be blamed for not getting a deal on DACA because we didn’t go blindly along with his partisan plan – extreme as it is, with no input from Democrats. That will not happen,” Schumer said on the Senate floor today.
“As much as the president wants the world to be upside down; as much as he wants everyone to just accept what he’s saying, the American people know better,” he added. “Everyone here knows that President Trump has stood in the way of a bipartisan solution to DACA from the very beginning.”
Trump wants a lengthy path to citizenship for the currently registered 800,000 DREAMers and potentially a million more who qualify, as well as border wall funding, an end to family reunification other than for spouses and minor children, and an end to the diversity visa lottery. Dems have said the last two provisions are non-starters.
The White House is supporting legislation that “enshrines our four pillars” from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), along with a House effort led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas).
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has tried to move forward with the Grassley bill, hampered by the objections of Democrats.
“Why, after months and months spent demanding that the Senate take up this issue, do they now object to even starting the debate? Because they know, no matter how long they spend in closed-door negotiations, they can’t change the fact that the president has spelled out a fair and generous framework that will be necessary to earn his signature. They cannot take ‘yes’ for an answer. So, instead of moving to fulfill their promises and address the DACA issue, they haven’t even allowed the debate to begin,” McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning.
“There is a widespread desire in this chamber to find a resolution for the illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as children,” he added. “But common sense dictates that we cannot simply treat one symptom of our broken immigration policy in isolation. We must address the underlying problems as well.”
McConnell argued that the Grassley bill had to move forward if Democrats want to offer amendments.
“Presumably, we want to actually make a law here. But I’ve made no effort to tell Democrats what amendments they should offer. Of course, they shouldn’t try to dictate Republican amendments, either,” he said. “The longer my colleagues across the aisle refuse to come to the table — the longer they’re unable to produce any legislation they actually support — the lower the odds that we can arrive at a legislative solution this week.”
The White House and Department of Homeland Security fired back today against a compromise from Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would give legal protection to illegal immigrants brought to the country as children before Dec. 31, 2013. It requires “a comprehensive border strategy, encompassing all known physical barriers, levees, technologies, tools, or other devices that can be used to achieve the above goals along with a justification, including a cost analysis for each linear mile of the border,” while adding new immigration judges and “mandates coordination of federal and international efforts to strengthen the rule of law and economic prosperity in Central America” to address the roots causes of migration. It does not touch on family reunification or the visa lottery.
It’s based on the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act introduced in the House by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-Texas).
“The White House opposes the McCain-Coons immigration proposal, which would increase illegal immigration, surge chain migration, continue catch and release, and give a pathway to citizenship to convicted alien felons,” said deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters. The DHS said that “because there is no age cut off, under the McCain-Coons proposal, an eligible recipient could now be 65 years old, or older.”
Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) offered an amendment today that mirrors the president’s 12-year path to citizenship request for DACA beneficiaries, provides $25 billion in appropriated funds for border security measures, and does not address the visa lottery and family reunification.
Schumer said Republicans should “offer whatever they want on DACA and border security and we’ll do the same.”
“The Leader supports the proposal by Senator Grassley that’s essentially the president’s plan. Let’s vote on that first. We will have several bipartisan bills to offer. We should vote on those too,” Schumer said. “Democrats are focused like a laser on finding a bipartisan bill that can pass the Senate to protect the Dreamers. Several moderate Republicans are working towards that as well. The one person who seems most intent on not getting a deal is President Trump.”
The Dem leader accused Trump of “trying to force his unpopular, hardline immigration agenda down the throats of the American people by calling it a DACA bill.”
“The president’s proposal, now the Grassley bill, is so extreme on legal immigration that several Republicans have been critical of it, including my Republican friends from South Carolina and Arizona,” Schumer added.