Chuck Schumer no longer interested in a broad immigration reform bill

Just yesterday I observed that Mitch McConnell seemed to be throwing Chuck Schumer all the rope he could ask for on a comprehensive immigration reform package and inviting the Democrats to go hang themselves with it. Based on comments the Senate Minority Leader made from the Senate floor, I’m beginning to suspect that he’s caught on to the scheme and is now scrambling to avoid digging himself a hole he can’t get out of.

While Schumer had previously been talking about various elements of some sort of grand bargain, offering indications as to which pieces he might support or oppose, his tone has suddenly changed. Claiming that this is “neither the time nor the place” for something more comprehensive and permanent, it now sounds as if the Democrats are back to talking about only a “clean fix” for DACA to cover the Dreamers. (Time)

“The only enemy here is overreach,” Schumer said. “Now is not the time nor the place to reform the entire legal immigration system. Rather, this is the time for a narrow bill” — which Democrats have said would help the Dreamers and provide some money for border security.

The comments came as the Senate voted 97-1 — Ted Cruz, R-Texas, provided the sole “no” vote — to plunge into an open-ended immigration debate that’s been promised by McConnell. Both parties’ leaders hope debate can be concluded this week, but it’s unclear if that will happen or what the product, if any, will be.

“This is going to be done or not done this week,” No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas told reporters.

So that’s what Schumer said on the Senate floor. But listen to the tone he took last night at the University of Louisville during an appearance with Mitch McConnell. He’s saying they’re ready to work toward getting something done, but he doesn’t say how much.

McConnell (and presumably Trump) are talking about the big picture bill which Democrats have claimed they want to hammer out for a long time. But now Schumer is back to just a fix for the Dreamers (including a path to citizenship) in exchange for, “some money for border security.”

Pardon me for saying that this is absolutely not something that Republicans should hold their noses and sign off on. If Schumer and the Democrats want amnesty for nearly two million people, then the entire, comprehensive immigration reform package needs to be on the table. He’s looking to cherry pick the one item Democrats “claim” to want the most and give up a few crumbs in exchange, with hints that he might be willing to talk about the other issues later. And I put “claim” in scare quotes there for a reason. In reality, the one thing that the DNC would probably like more than amnesty for the Dreamers is nine months of claiming that the GOP is deporting all the Dreamers straight up through the elections.

This is one policy area where the legislature is perfectly suited to act and we have a defined set of issues they could tackle. These include possible changes to legal immigration quotas, whether to keep or abandon the lottery and put limits on chain immigration, funding for the wall and staffing levels for immigration enforcement. They also need to tackle questions surrounding the passage of Kate’s Law and mandatory E-verify use. All of this can and should be addressed.

If the GOP leadership is actually gullible enough to hand the Democrats a “clean” amnesty for Dreamers and get nothing in exchange but a few bucks to repair fencing on the Mexican border, they need to simply resign now. What Schumer and the Democrats are asking for his huge and it will likely be impossible to get a lot of the more conservative members to vote for it anyway. They need to give up something equally meaningful in exchange because we’re not going to trust them to deal fairly on the subject later after they’ve already gotten what they really want.

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