OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
A sweeping immigration reform effort championed by Joe Biden but derided by Republicans as amnesty on steroids is being delayed until April, but not because of minority GOP opposition.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team are having trouble finding enough members of her own party to support the legislation as-is, Politico reported Thursday.
As such, the plan is to send the immigration package to the House Judiciary Committee while majority Democrats instead work on smaller immigration bills.
According to The Hill, one piece of immigration legislation will give “Dreamers” — immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as kids — a path to citizenship.
After being inaugurated, one of Biden’s first acts was to sign an executive order aimed at strengthening the Obama-era Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, with an eye toward providing them a citizenship path via legislation.
The DACA program, which many conservatives derided as unconstitutional when Obama implemented it and which President Trump attempted, unsuccessfully, to end via executive order as Obama created it, waves off deportation for most dreams.
But Biden and Democrats now want to provide them with citizenship.
Trump offered Democrats a DACA deal in early 2018 in exchange for agreeing to fund his border wall and limit so-called ‘chain migration,’ but they refused.
Another bill the House is liable to consider, The Hill reported, deals with expanding visa and citizenship potential for migrant farmworkers.
But it’s Biden’s larger immigration bill Pelosi is having a hard time selling. For one, it provides amnesty for between 11 million and as many as 22 million people living illegally in the U.S., though the process would be spread out over eight years, it also facilitates chain migration, making the process far easier.
It also expands the number of visas to foreigners so they can work in the U.S., a stickler in of itself at a time when the country is still recovering from self-imposed COVID-19 lockdowns.
Meanwhile, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler called Biden’s legislation “important and serious,” though he acknowledged that thus far it’s a tough sell for many Democrats.
“We need to engage in some consultation with key members and stakeholders, but I see no reason why we wouldn’t mark it up when we reconvene in April,” he told Politico.
While the Democrats’ hard-left faction wants to push full steam ahead, party leaders are not going to introduce a bill that has no chance of passing, hence the need to discuss it further with more moderate members.
“We need to have a discussion. It was put together by a few people. I don’t know what the role of the administration has been,” Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), a member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition who represents a border state that has a longstanding problem with illegal immigration. “But I have a sense that it’s just not quite ready yet.”
“I want to make sure the broader bill gets as much support as possible, and that we send it over as quickly as possible, and that we get this done,” Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), who helped craft the Biden bill and wants to see it enacted, told Politico. “My fear, always, is that we will get morsels and, as a Congress, continue to kick the can down the road.