The Senate is turning its attention to immigration. With Republicans in control of both chambers, and a loose cannon in the White House egging on the most extreme among them, an open debate on immigration on the Senate floor could turn ugly quickly.
AN UNUSUAL PROCESS
Mitch McConnell plans to introduce a “shell bill”—basically a placeholder bill that will serve as a base for the final product. Republicans and Democrats will each have a limited number of amendments that they will use to offer different immigration proposals, and each of those will require at least 60 votes to pass. Democrats will try to pass as narrow a bill as possible, one that provides relief for Dreamers but that doesn’t concede too much on border security and immigration enforcement. Republicans will do the opposite, hoping to pull the bill as far to the right as possible.
It is unclear if any immigration proposal will get the necessary 60 votes needed for passage. And it’s possible that the debate could devolve into an amendments free-for-all, which means Democrats may need to defend against attacks against sanctuary cities, family migration, and efforts to expand Trump’s deportation machine.
THE OUTCOME WE WANT
We’re in this mess because Donald Trump unnecessarily ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program back in September 2017. As a result, the lives of 800,000 DACA recipients are now in grave risk. 122 DACA recipients are losing their protections every single day, and starting March 5, that number will jump to 1,200 a day.
We want a “clean” Dream Act, which provides relief for Dreamers but that does not further fund or expand Trump’s deportation machine. Short of the Dream Act, we need Democrats to push for as limited a bill as possible. It must include relief for Dreamers, but should not include the harmful, nativist provisions that the White House has proposed.
DEFENDING AMERICAN VALUES
While we want immediate relief for Dreamers, we will not accept just any bill. There are certain bright lines that we cannot sacrifice in exchange for relief for Dreamers. Some of the major ones include:
- No Family Ban. You may hear Republicans refer to this as “chain migration,” but don’t be fooled. This is a family ban intended to prevent immigrants, mostly people of color, from reuniting with siblings, parents, grandparents.
- No elimination of the Diversity Visa Program. As with family migration, Republicans are targeting the Diversity Visa lottery, a program designed to ensure that we maintain diversity in our immigration system. (Note: this is a merit-based program.)
- No to Trump’s Border Wall. Democrats and immigration advocates are willing to work with Republicans on sensible border security provisions. However, the proposals that Trump and Republican hardliners are proposing are neither sensible nor would they be effective. Trump is demanding $25 billion for a wall that won’t work, and some Republicans are eager to give it to him however wasteful it would be.
- No expansion to Trump’s deportation machine. In Trump’s first year in office, we’ve already seen immigration officers operate with near impunity. We can’t allow it to get worse by increasing the number of immigration officers, expanding detention facilities, allowing for expedited removal of immigrants, or eroding sanctuary policies.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP DREAMERS
It’s possible that we could get a breakthrough in Congress, especially as we approach the arbitrary March 5 deadline. We need pressure our Members of Congress to make sure we get a DACA fix that is consistent with our values and that doesn’t require Dreamers to sacrifice their parents in the process.
Demand a “clean” Dream Act. In your conversations with your Members of Congress, demand that they only pass a clean Dream Act, meaning a bill that provides relief for Dreamers but that does not expand Trump’s mass deportation force. Don’t let your Members sell out immigrants in a bad immigration deal.
- Call Rob Portman at 202-224-3353
- Call Sherrod Brown at 202-224-2315
Caller: Hi! My name is [name] and I live in [part of state]. I’m calling to tell [MoC] that we need to pass a clean Dream Act, now. 122 Dreamers have been losing their DACA protections every day since Trump announced the end of the program back in September, and starting on March 5 that number will rise to over 1,200 a day. Dreamers are every bit as American as you and me, and by failing to act Congress is letting Trump and his deportation force enact the administration’s white supremacist agenda.
Staffer: Thanks for calling. The Senate will be voting on immigration legislation soon that will include provisions to protect Dreamers, as well as measures to enhance our border security.
Caller: Dreamers are not a bargaining chip to be used to advance Trump’s racist policies. Every Congressional leader AND Trump himself supports keeping Dreamers in America because it’s the only home they’ve ever known; Congress must keep the promise that we made to Dreamers when DACA was first started. I ask that [MoC] vote to permanently protect them from deportation and oppose the family ban, more ICE agents, and the border wall.
Staffer: I’ll pass your thoughts along to [MoC].
Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information so you can let me know what [MoC] decides to do.
Thanks to Indivisible for today’s action!