How many Senate Republicans will cross the aisle to vote for Joe Biden’s amnesty bill? Counting the original members of the 2013 Gang of Eight that tried to cut a deal on immigration reform, the number so far is … zero. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, who both pushed hard for the tradeoff of security for normalization, say they will outright oppose Biden’s new proposal:
President Joe Biden’s sweeping immigration plan ran into quick resistance from key Senate Republicans, including some who championed a similar effort eight years ago.
Immigration activists widely praised the legislative proposal, but senior Senate aides in both parties expressed skepticism that it has a path, at least without major changes, to winning the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster, which means at least 10 GOP votes.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a key figure in the “Gang of Eight” overhaul in 2013 that passed the Senate but died in the Republican-controlled House, called it a nonstarter.
Without Rubio, there’s no chance anyone else crosses that Rubicon. Even more centrist-oriented Senate Republicans like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski need some political cover for a vote on any immigration-reform package. That was Rubio’s value to the Obama administration in the 2013 negotiations, as well as Lindsey Graham’s.
Speaking of whom, this seems like a curious counter-offer:
Graham, who took on a more hard-right posture during the Trump administration, said the most likely endgame is a smaller deal centered on codifying the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Barack Obama set up unilaterally.
“I think probably the space in a 50-50 Senate would be some kind of DACA deal,” Graham said Thursday. “Comprehensive immigration is going to be a tough sell given this environment, but doing DACA, I think, is possible.”
That may be true, but why would Graham just accept a narrow negotiation on DACA without any trade-offs either? DACA might generate the most sympathy among voters — not for no good reason, either — but it’s also a part of the overall need to reconfigure immigration and border security. Institutionalizing DACA will have an incentivizing effect on future illegal border crossers, which creates more pressure on ICE and Homeland Security. That is precisely why this requires a comprehensive staged approach to normalization that first improves security in both the border and visa systems.
That actually came close to succeeding in the 2013 Gang of Eight effort. Republicans were out of the majority in Congress at the time during a Democratic presidency, but used their leverage to at least gain those concessions. The smart move would be to insist on that as a starting point, not piecing off the parts of the issue that Democrats want most. Biden might have won the first salvo on this front already.