Rep. Martha McSally said Monday that Democrats in Congress are wasting their time pursuing a no-strings-attached bill to give legal status to millions of younger illegal immigrants.
She said the Dream Act, which has emerged as the Democrats’ favored replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, is a nonstarter.
“There’s no such thing as doing a clean Dream Act. The Democrats need to get over it. It’s not happening,” the Arizona Republican said on Fox News. “We in our bill have come up with the president’s priorities, the American people’s priorities, and that should be a starting place for these negotiations.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 15, 2018
McSally and three other House Republicans — Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Michael McCaul of Texas, and Raúl Labrador of Idaho — are co-sponsoring a DACA replacement bill that reads like an immigration hawk’s wish list. The measure pairs President Donald Trump’s demands for a DACA bill — border wall funding, limits on family migration, and killing the green card lottery — with an array of tough immigration enforcement provisions. (RELATED: House Republicans Roll Out DACA Bill Packed With Border Security And Immigration Reforms)
“These are reasonable requests for us to move forward,” McSally said, referring to stalled negotiations between lawmakers and the White House over a DACA bill.
Democrats have thus far refused to combine any of the deeper immigration reforms favored by conservatives with DACA legislation. Instead, they have pushed for the Dream Act, which gives a path to citizenship to roughly 700,000 DACA recipients and as many as twice that number of similar illegal immigrants, to be passed in conjunction with addition funding for unspecified “border security” enhancements.
Trying to split the difference is the so-called Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of lawmakers working to craft a deal in the Senate. Tthe bipartisan group rolled out their proposal last week in a hastily arranged meeting with Trump at the White House, but the bill was immediately rejected by both administration officials and conservative Republicans for its soft stance on chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.
House conservatives are now pushing Speaker Paul Ryan hold a floor vote on McSally’s bill. Some Republican leaders are hesitant to do so, especially since the bill is unlikley to garner a single Democratic vote in the Senate.
Ryan has not publicly ruled out a House vote on the measure, but he has previously expressed a desire to come to a bipartisan agreement. Ryan called the legislation “constructive” and a “good bill” on Thursday, but would not commit to giving it floor time, reports Politico.
Further complicating matters is last week’s U.S. district court ruling that the Trump administration must begin accepting DACA renewal applications while legal challenges relating to the program are worked out in the courts. Ironically, some immigration activists now worry the court decision has reduced the urgency of passing a legislative replacement for the program.
McSally has aligned herself with immigration hawks in Congress as the DACA negotiations grind on, contrasting her positions on the issue with those of retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, whose seat she is running to fill in 2018. The move helps her preempt her likely primary opponents, Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio, who are both noted immigration hardliners.
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