The White House and Democrats in Congress are preparing to introduce a massive immigration bill this week, the centerpiece being a “path to citizenship” for undocumented workers.
But Democrats are also preparing several interim bills that would deal with children who came to the U.S. with illegal parents, so-called “DREAMers” — farmworkers, and those here under the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure programs. That represents as many as four million citizens in the country without documentation.
Democrats have no illusions about passing a comprehensive bill. But on this issue, Democrats would rather go big or not go at all.
Biden’s bill, titled U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, addresses the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the US, boosts border technology, and targets the root causes of migration, according to a White House fact sheet.
Notably, the bill provides an immediate pathway to citizenship for farmworkers, DACA recipients, and Temporary Protected Status holders. It also sketches out a plan for undocumented immigrants that would allow them to eventually apply for green cards if they pass background checks and pay taxes.
Those “root causes” will be addressed by giving $4 billion to Central American countries that are so corrupt, dangerous, and ungovernable that people are literally fleeing them for their lives.
What’s truly needed is a hemispheric plan that involves every country in Central and South America. The U.S. cannot “fix” these countries any more than we could “fix” Afghanistan and Iraq. But if it’s going to take tens of billions of dollars in investment, everyone who benefits by sending their people here so they can work and send money back home needs to pony up.
There may be a chance for some small steps for some illegals.
“There are Republicans who want to do things,” Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia said at the time. “Trump might still be out there as a private citizen raising hell, but as soon as you aren’t worried about a veto threat, some things become more possible. It may not be what you have with a strong Democratic majority, but I think there is some prospect of doing more than just some narrow fixes.”
Even Democrats who have worked on the package have signaled an openness to breaking pieces away from a comprehensive bill to get some results. Anything that would pass in the Senate would need 60 votes, meaning 10 Republicans would have to get on board.
Donald Trump begged Congress to come up with a workable plan to legalize some of the DREAMers. He was willing to sign a good bill. But Democrats sabotaged the process and the program was ended by the Supreme Court before lower courts reestablished it.
“I just think comprehensive immigration is going to be a tough sale given this environment, but doing DACA I think is possible,” said Lindsey Graham. You can bet that’s where Democrats will start.