Posted on November 19, 2020

Biden Win Revives Immigration Talk

Jordain Carney, The Hill, November 17, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is reviving the hunt for one of Washington’s biggest white whales: immigration reform.

Talk of a potential agreement under Biden comes as Congress has tried and failed in recent years to clinch a deal related to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

GOP senators pointed to immigration as one area of potential compromise under a government likely to be divided next year.

“I think that would be a good thing to do,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said about the potential to do immigration next year.

“The challenge is you’ve got to get the votes, but that to me is one of my biggest disappointments in my time in the Senate, our inability to get that done,” Cornyn said, adding that he would “try to be part of that effort” if the topic comes back up.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during a recent call with reporters said there was room for deals between Republicans and Biden on several issues, and “there may be some things we can do on immigration. You know, you got the Dreamers hanging out there.”


Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who will chair the Judiciary Committee if Republicans keep control of the Senate, didn’t rule out action on immigration but warned it would depend on the parameters, which he said would need to be “somewhere in between” extremes on both sides.


If Democrats had been swept into the Senate majority, immigration reform was expected to be on their to-do list as the party considered ending the legislative filibuster.


The uphill battle in Congress has immigration reform advocates urging Biden to make changes to the system through executive action, including rolling back Trump orders.


But immigration reform advocates are warning they will pressure Congress to take legislative action on immigration reform starting next year and won’t just settle for executive actions.


McConnell has generally been wary of bringing up items that divide his caucus. {snip}

And the GOP caucus, even with Trump out of the White House, has immigration hawks that are likely to bristle at any talk of a deal with Biden. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) were behind a Trump push to reduce legal immigration, a plan that earned backlash even from fellow Republicans.

Fox News’s Tucker Carlson immediately ripped Graham for his comments earlier this month, accusing him of being willing to “sell out his voters with an amnesty deal.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), asked about making a deal on immigration with Biden, argued that Democrats would try to enact “amnesty,” a buzzword used on the right that stirs up political passions among base voters.

“I think the Democrats want to see a massive amnesty plan, which would be a serious mistake,” Cruz said.

Asked if he thought it was a mistake for his colleagues to even open the door on immigration with Biden, Cruz replied, “Yes.”