The 118th Congress had barely convened before the Senate’s amnesty addicts traveled to the border and began pontificating about the bipartisan immigration action they were about to embark upon. Whenever Congress touts bipartisanship as it relates to immigration, the sub rosa message is that amnesty legislation, which Americans have consistently rejected, is percolating.
Neither amnesty’s failed history – countless futile efforts since the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act – nor the Republican-controlled House of Representatives stopped determined Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Mark Kelly, (D-Ariz.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Tillis tipped off the group’s hand when he said, “It’s not just about border security; it’s not just about a path to citizenship or some certainty for a population.” One of those populations would be the “Dreamers,” with a 20-year-long failed legislative record. Sinema took advantage of the border trip to promote her failed amnesty, her leftovers from the December Lame Duck session, a three-week period when radical immigration legislation usually finds a home. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) tweeted that “our immigration system is badly broken…” drivel that’s been repeated so often it’s lost whatever meaning it once may have had. The immigration system is “badly broken,” to quote Coons, because immigration laws have been ignored for decades. Critics laughingly call the out-of-touch, border-visiting senators the “Sell-Out Safari.”
Coons’ tweet is classic duplicity. Coons, Sinema, Kelly, and Murphy have consistently voted against measures to enforce border security and against fortifying the interior by providing more agents and by giving more authority to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Republicans Tillis and Cornyn are also immigration expansionists. Tillis worked with Sinema on her unsuccessful Lame Duck amnesty. Cornyn sponsored, with Sinema and Tillis as cosponsors, the “Bipartisan Border Solutions” bill that would have built more processing centers to expedite migrants’ release and to create a “fairer and more efficient” way to decide asylum cases. The bill, which never got off the ground, would have rolled out the red carpet to more prospective migrants at a time when the border is under siege.
The good news is that the border safari, an updated version of the 2013 Gang of Eight that promoted but couldn’t deliver an amnesty, was a cheap photo op that intended to reflect concern about the border crisis when, in fact, the senators’ voting records prove that the invasion doesn’t trouble them in the least.
More good news is that Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the new Speaker of the House, represents enforcement proponents’ best chance to move their agenda forward since 2007 when Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) first held the job. Republicans John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) followed Pelosi from 2011 to 2019 when Pelosi returned as Speaker. Although Boehner and Ryan are Republicans, their commitment to higher immigration levels was not much different than Pelosi’s. Boehner and Ryan received 0 percent scores on immigration, meaning that they favor looser immigration enforcement and more employment-based visas for foreign-born workers.
Also in McCarthy’s favor is the public support for tightening the border. Polls taken in September 2022 showed that a majority of Americans, including 76 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Independents, thought President Joe Biden should be doing more to ensure border security. Moreover, a plurality of Americans opposes using tax dollars to transport migrants, a common practice in the Biden catch-and-release era.
McCarthy must become more proactive and make good on his November call for the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to resign or face impeachment. “He cannot and must not remain in that position,” McCarthy said. “If Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action, and every failure to determine whether we can begin an impeachment inquiry.” McCarthy has the backing of the Chairmen of the Judiciary and Oversight Committees, Jim Jordan and James Comer.
On January 9, Pat Fallon (R-Texas) filed articles of impeachment that charged Mayorkas with, among other offenses, “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Mayorkas insists he won’t resign and that he’s prepared for whatever investigations may come his way. Assuming the House presses on, and that the DHS secretary remains committed to keeping his post, Capitol Hill fireworks are assured, the fallout from which could lead to Mayorkas’ departure.
Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who writes about immigration and related social issues. Joe joined Progressives for Immigration Reform in 2018 as an analyst after a ten-year career directing media relations for Californians for Population Stabilization, where he also was a Senior Writing Fellow. A native Californian, Joe now lives in Pennsylvania. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.