Sahil Kapur, NBC News, January 21, 2021
President Joe Biden’s sweeping immigration plan ran into quick resistance from key Senate Republicans, including some who championed a similar effort eight years ago.
Immigration activists widely praised the legislative proposal, but senior Senate aides in both parties expressed skepticism that it has a path, at least without major changes, to winning the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster, which means at least 10 GOP votes.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a key figure in the “Gang of Eight” overhaul in 2013 that passed the Senate but died in the Republican-controlled House, called it a nonstarter.
“There are many issues I think we can work cooperatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” he said in a statement Tuesday, the day before Biden was sworn in.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he doubts Biden’s plan can pass, describing it as “to the left” of the 2013 legislation that he helped craft, citing fewer provisions to beef up border security.
Rubio and Graham are the two remaining GOP members of the group that crafted the 2013 bill, making their resistance a significant warning for Biden. His plan would grant an eight-year path to citizenship to the estimated 11 million people who are in the U.S. illegally after they pass background checks and pay their taxes, while linking green cards to economic conditions and easing asylum restrictions.
In a symbolic recognition of the U.S. as a nation of immigrants, Biden’s plan would also change the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in the context of immigration law.
The Senate GOP’s campaign arm, which is focused on recapturing the majority in 2022, quickly dubbed Biden’s immigration plan “amnesty and open borders.”
Even if all 50 Democrats unite, finding 10 Republicans for the bill would be a daunting task.
“I don’t think I can even count to one,” said a senior GOP aide who wasn’t authorized to speak about the plan’s prospects, arguing that the path to citizenship is “an issue” for Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tore into Biden’s plan Thursday, calling it “a massive proposal for blanket amnesty that would gut enforcement of American laws while creating huge new incentives for people to rush here illegally at the same time.”