Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday the Department of Homeland Security’s blistering response to a bipartisan immigration proposal shows it is not a credible partner in the effort to compromise on an immigration bill.
The South Carolina Republican, one of a bipartisan group of senators that introduced Wednesday yet another plan to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, said the DHS news release reflected a “political organization intent on poisoning the well.”
“From the tone of this morning’s document, it appears as if DHS hopes all border security proposals fail,” Graham said in a statement. “That would be the worst outcome of all.”
Graham was referring to a point-by-point takedown of the DACA proposal rolled out by the so-called Common Sense coalition of 16 bipartisan senators led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Released just a few hours after the senators unveiled their proposal, the unusually detailed response from DHS blasted the Common Sense amendment as a “mass amnesty” that would encourage further illegal immigration. (RELATED: DHS Unloads On ‘Common Sense’ DACA Proposal: ‘End Of Immigration Enforcement In America’)
“Instead of helping to secure the border as the President has repeatedly asked Congress to do, it would do the exact opposite and make our border far more open and porous,” the DHS response stated. “It would ensure a massive wave of new illegal immigration by exacerbating the pull factors caused by legal loopholes.”
The Common Sense proposal sets aside $25 billion over 10 years to build a “wall system” and and bolster surveillance technology on the southern and northern borders. Its amnesty provision sets out a 12-year path to citizenship for DACA recipients and at least a million other younger illegal immigrants who were not DACA beneficiaries.
On Wednesday, Graham described the Common Sense amendment as a “two-pillar” proposal that addresses DACA and border security, but leaves untouched the administration’s demands for changes to the green card lottery and chain migration visas. The amendment falls well short of the White House immigration framework, which trades amnesty for 1.8 million younger illegal immigrants for fully funding the border wall, ending the diversity visa lottery, and limiting chain migration to nuclear family members.
The Collins-led proposal would open amnesty to far more illegal immigrants than would be covered under the White House plan, according to DHS. Its broader age and arrival criteria would make roughly 3 million people eligible for citizenship after a 12-year probationary period.
DHS also characterized the Collins proposal as a fig leaf for relaxing the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration. The Common Sense amendment directs the homeland security secretary to prioritize enforcement against illegal immigrants who arrive after June 30, 2018, amounting to an enforcement “holiday” for people who are already in the U.S. illegally, DHS said.
In his his statement on the DHS response, Graham said the agency was acting “less like a partner and more like an adversary.”
“Statements like this undermine confidence in DHS and make one question whether they can rationally engage with the Congress on this issue,” he said. “They lost credibility with this release and that’s not good for those of us concerned about protecting our border and making sure DHS has the tools they need to best protect our nation.”
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