Brendan Kirby, PoliZette, December 23, 2017
A document described as Sen. Richard Durbin’s compromise offer to immigration hard-liners as part of an amnesty deal for illegal immigrants brought to America as children demonstrates one of two possibilities.
Either the Democratic senator from Illinois and his allies are lowballing Republicans as a negotiating tactic — or they think they can win legal status for beneficiaries of the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program without offering major concessions.
“He’s not offering much, is he?” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. “This, to me, looks like Durbin is not really inclined to compromise.”
Durbin is the longtime co-sponsor of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would give permanent residency to some two million illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 18 and who can meet certain other conditions.
He has pushed the bill since 2001, but it picked up new momentum after President Donald Trump announced in September that he was ending the more limited DACA program, created by executive action during Barack Obama’s Oval Office tenure.
The document reportedly prepared by Durbin’s office contains a summary of the Building America’s Trust Act, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), with sections that Durbin would accept highlighted in yellow.
It includes items such as completing a threat analysis of the southern border and upgrading the U.S. Border Patrol’s most forward operating bases. But it does not accept provisions such as beefing up physical barriers along the border or allowing the deployment of National Guard units to assist Border Patrol agents.
It accepts hiring more Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, but not more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, who are responsible for interior immigration enforcement.
It accepts installing biometric technology and license plate readers at U.S. ports of entry, but not a border security development program.
Vaughan said Durbin’s offer is stunning since it only partially accepts immigration enforcement legislation that “itself is not all that tough.”
… Cornyn’s bill does nothing to address the broken asylum system and the flood of unaccompanied minors who regularly arrive from Central America. It also does nothing to encourage more enforcement operations targeting businesses that hire illegal immigrants or “sanctuary” jurisdictions, she added.
And Cornyn’s bill does not cover a host of other immigration priorities that Trump has demanded in exchange for legislation along the lines of the DREAM Act. The president, for instance, has called for curtailing family-sponsored immigration and a switch to a merit-based immigration system envisioned by the proposed Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act.
The fate of DACA is uncertain. Congress finished work for the year this week by passing a short-term funding measure that did not include legal status for DREAMers. The program does not actually end until March, however, and the issue is sure to return when lawmakers do in January.