Before taking office, President Joe Biden vowed repeatedly to overhaul the nation’s immigration system — and already, he’s sending a proposal over to Congress in the hopes of acting on that promise. But it’s not all smooth-sailing from here.
According to Politico, Biden’s immigration plan puts him in a tight spot with others in the Democratic caucus, some of whom aren’t sure that his sweeping plan can pass through a deeply divided Congress.
“Very difficult” to pass
Among those counseling Biden to pursue bipartisanship in an immigration plan are more moderate Democrats who understand the political realities of a closely split House and Senate, and the need for Republican support in any legislative endeavor.
One such Democrat is Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX), who recalled that former President Barack Obama’s bold proposals for an overhaul of the immigration system in 2009 ended up going nowhere, despite Democrats holding complete control in Washington with even larger margins than they do now.
Cuellar told Politico that he’d told a colleague at the time that Obama’s plan “ain’t gonna happen,” and he suggested that Biden’s plan would soon meet the same fate.
“Bottom line is, even when we had a supermajority in a better situation than we’re in right now, we did not pass anything,” the congressman said, as Politico reported. “I’m not saying no way, I’m just saying it would be very difficult.”
The Politico piece went on to note that a growing number of Democrats have been suggesting, both privately and in public, that Biden and progressives would be better off ditching any grand comprehensive plans and instead focus on much smaller, piecemeal proposals that could see more bipartisan support.
It “will be tough”
A report from Reuters released the day after Biden was sworn-in as president — and the same day that he first put out his sweeping immigration plan — reached similar conclusions. Even Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who supports the measure, told the outlet that passing the measure through “will be tough.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, has already dismissed the proposal as a “non-starter,” and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) vowed to oppose Biden’s “total amnesty” plan unequivocally, Reuters reported.
That proposal, as summarized by a White House “fact sheet” issued Jan. 21, includes a pathway to citizenship for upwards of 11 million illegal immigrants and loosens restrictions on the issuance of new visas.
It also calls for “smart” border security based on technology and infrastructure, and promises to address the root causes of migration; in other words, giving more taxpayer money to foreign nations in hopes that they improve their own countries enough so people won’t leave.
How’s that worked out so far?