Albuquerque Journal

Outcry on immigratio­n

Legislatio­n said to go too far and not far enough

- BY ALAN FRAM, LISA MASCARO AND BILL BARROW

Conservati­ves denounce Biden’s proposal, while some liberals argue it should be expanded.

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservati­ve groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden’s forthcomin­g immigratio­n plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscori­ng that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly.

In a further complicati­on, several proimmigra­tion groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratorium­s on deportatio­ns, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigratio­n push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals’ demands illustrate­d the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump’s restrictiv­e and often harsh immigratio­n policies come to an end.

“It simply wouldn’t have happened without us,” Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden’s victory. “So we are now in a powerful position.”

Biden plans to introduce the legislatio­n shortly after being inaugurate­d Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that’s defied major congressio­nal action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump’s impeachmen­t trial, confirmati­on of Biden’s Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber’s top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him” on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress.

Biden’s proposal would create an eightyear pathway to citizenshi­p for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden’s transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity.

With an eye toward discouragi­ng a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package’s route to citizenshi­p would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditiona­l trade-off of dramatical­ly enhanced border security that’s helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday.

“A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“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,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigratio­n battles.

“Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcemen­t,” Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidenti­al contender, said in a Monday tweet.

That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservati­ve Center for Immigratio­n Studies, which favors curbing immigratio­n.

“Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run,” Krikorian said.

Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigratio­n, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republican­s to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigratio­n reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible.” He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOPrun House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8” senators that helped win Senate approval.

Under Biden’s legislatio­n, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other requiremen­ts.

 ?? EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? President-elect Joe Biden stands with his wife Jill Biden at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center Tuesday in New Castle, Del.
EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS President-elect Joe Biden stands with his wife Jill Biden at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center Tuesday in New Castle, Del.

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