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Erasing the Line: House Dems Pump Brakes on Biden Plan to 'Re-Engineer' Immigration System

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An up-and-coming Capitol Hill Republican confirmed Thursday that House Democrats are hesitant on a comprehensive reform package that experts argue would “erase the line” between legal and illegal immigration.

Taken up late last month, the package would make good on President Joe Biden’s progressive campaign promise to reverse Trump-era immigration policy, addressing the treatment of migrants arrested at the border and delivering a long-debated “pathway to citizenship.”

But early reports indicate that the Democratic majority, dwindling in light of a messy 2020 presidential election, is anything but certain the bill could survive a floor vote in its current state.

“Even some Democrats don’t support attempts by the Biden administration to unilaterally re-engineer our immigration system,” Republican Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah told The Western Journal.

“Immigration reform is a complicated issue, as demonstrated by the crisis at our southern border. For this reason, Congress should take the leading role in updating our immigration laws. A bipartisan and deliberate approach will guarantee a fair, safe, and responsible result for all.”

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Deliberation and bipartisanship seemed to slip early discussion surrounding the bill, which was quickly shown to include a sweeping expansion of the nation’s most widely abused immigration programs.

The proliferation of work visas, prohibition on words like “illegal alien” and the loosening of restrictions on family-based immigration were all viewed as poison pills across the aisle, but none more so than an eight-year amnesty plan that would naturalize nearly all of the 11 to 22 million illegal migrants currently living stateside.

Owens has stood in staunch opposition to such policy since stepping onto the political scene. The freshman congressman, a Trump ally, even forecasted to Fox News late-night host Tucker Carlson when the bill materialized that a return to the “open borders” approach would likely do tremendous damage to underprivileged Americans and minority communities “trying to get their first ladder up to the middle class.”

His beltway remarks Tuesday were less speculative, however, falling on the heels of a damning report that revealed early efforts to whip up support for the legislative package were met with “dismal” results.

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According to Politico, the going attitude among Democratic leaders was that the White House plan is “not quite ready yet,” and would need substantial revisions in committee.

“We need to engage in some consultation with key members and stakeholders, but I see no reason why we wouldn’t mark it up when we reconvene in April,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler told the outlet, as moderates in the party took to temper more progressive policy proposals in hopes of avoiding political backlash.

Those sentiments were later echoed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, whose meeting to take the caucus’ temperature on the bill with Majority Whip Jim Clyburn was cut short last week, when proposed Biden budget director Neera Tanden was forced to remove herself from consideration in the eleventh hour.

“If ready, we will also consider comprehensive immigration reform,” Hoyer said. “But I stress, if ready. There’s a lot of discussion going on about that.”

In the meantime, it would appear more targeted considerations will receive the benefit of cooking on the front burner.

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The current focus seems to be bolstering protection for migrant farmhands and illegal minors referred to as the “DREAMers.”

Previous efforts to square away both populations have seen a varying degree of success in recent decades, but according to Politico, bipartisan support exists for the related legislation currently under review, and a floor vote may even advance in the U.S. Senate.

This has not stopped far-left Democrats from continuing to work the back-channels, believing the caucus should be willing to use every available avenue to forward the agenda.

Congressional Progressive Caucus leader Pramila Jayapal, for instance, assured that the “difficult” schedule would not prevent her from “pushing very hard” to send broader reforms to the floor.

“It’s like we have three pedals, and we’re pushing every one of them with just as much strength,” Jayapal said, her ally Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas adding, “I want to make sure the broader bill gets as much support as possible, and that we send it over as quickly as possible, and that we get this done.”

With America waking up to a major surge in arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, more progressive elements in the party face an uphill battle on those grounds.

According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 75,000 arrests were made at the southwest border in January, a 10-year record for the first month of the year and a 6 percent increase over the previous month. This is not the first influx in recent memory, either, with similar surges occurring in the closing months of 2020.

The Heritage Foundation further noted on March 4 that border crossing totals were six times higher under the Biden administration than they had been under former President Barack Obama.

Despite his Democratic predecessor’s declaration of a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden has been defiant in avoiding the term.

Weak rhetoric and a wealth of legislative promises to the illegal immigrant and incoming migrant population have reportedly led to internal concerns the presidential transition may have caused the dangerous surge, however.

The Western Journal has reached out to House Democratic leadership for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He has since covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal, and now focuses his reporting on Congress and the national campaign trail. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.




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