The fact that they’re not part of Biden’s bill tells me one of three things. One, maybe the administration doesn’t think the bill is going to pass anyway, and so the White House isn’t bothering to include all the trimmings. Two, maybe the White House—with an eye toward protecting vulnerable congressional Democrats who have to stand for reelection in 2022—doesn’t want the bill to pass, and this is all a show to placate immigration reform activists.
Or three, there may be some really smart people on Biden’s team who understand that, in years past, it was those horse-trading items that often gummed up the works and kept immigration bills from passing. Leaving the sweeteners out may increase the chance the bill will pass because the sweeteners are often divisive—both in Congress, and the public as a whole—and they ignite the special interests who then get into the sandbox and make the whole process of passing the bill more partisan, polarized, and poisonous.
Take, for instance, guest workers. Business interests say we need to bring in temporary foreign workers to do these jobs. That upsets and inflames organized labor which argues that foreign workers take jobs and drive down wages for U.S. workers. Now, the haggling over an immigration bill, which was supposed to be about securing U.S. borders and ports while giving legal status to some of the undocumented, becomes a pissing contest between labor and management, each of which is throwing money at their respective armies in Congress. Suddenly, both parties are awash in money, and they can only think about one thing: How do they keep the faucet turned on?