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Democrats are starting to rein in immigration bill standards,

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Democrats are starting to rein in immigration bill standards,

 

It only took Democrats days to gauge how far the ambitious immigration plan of President Joe Biden would go in Congress to realise that if anything emerges, it is likely to be substantially more modest.

As they prepare themselves to solve a politically flammable problem that has been resisted by significant Congressional intervention since the 1980s, Democrats use terms such as “aspirational” to characterise the initiative of Biden and “herculean” to articulate the commitment they would need to prevail.

A similar message came from the White House on Friday, when Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the new administration hopes that the proposal for Biden would be “the basis” of Congressional immigration discussions. The cautious tones of Democrats underscored the fragile path they face with their minority voters, leftists and activists on a paramount issue.

And long-time advocates of immigration supporting an all-out war admit that they will have to settle for less than absolute victory. “Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice, said in an interview that paving a path to citizenship for all 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally, the centrepiece of Biden’s plan, is “the stake at the top of the mountain. “We will look at them if there are ways to advance toward that summit by building victories and momentum.”

For some persons, the citizenship process in Biden’s proposal will take as little as three years, eight years for others. The plan will make it easier for some employees to remain temporarily or indefinitely in the U.S., offer development assistance to Central American nations in hopes of minimising immigration, and work towards improving technology for border screening.

No. 2 In an interview this week, Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois said the most likely package to emerge will provide a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers. They are immigrants who have spent most of their lives in the U.S. since being illegally brought here as infants.

Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, over 600,000 of them have conditional permission to remain in the U.S. This initiative was developed administratively by former President Barack Obama, and Durbin and others would like to see it passed into law.

Durbin, who called Biden’s “aspirational” proposal, said that he also hoped for other components, such as more agricultural and other workers’ visas.

“We understand the 50-50 Senate’s political reality that any immigration changes will require cooperation between the parties,” said Durbin, who is on track to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said that legislation generated by the Senate is likely to “not reach the same levels” as the proposal by Biden.

The Senate is equally divided between the two parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris, with her tie-breaking vote, tipping the chamber in favour of the Democrats. Still, major legislation requires 60 votes to resolve filibusters in order to pass, or endless procedural delays. That means that all 50 Democrats will have to join 10 Republicans in order to pass an immigration measure, a tall order.

“In particular, passing immigration reform through the Senate is a herculean task,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who will play a leading role in the fight as well.

Several Republicans agree with Durbin’s evaluation.

“Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has worked with Democrats on past immigration efforts, said, “I think the room in the 50-50 Senate would be some sort of DACA deal. “I only think comprehensive immigration, given this environment, is going to be a tough sale.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate who has pursued earlier immigration agreements, praised aspects of the bill, but said she needs more visas for international workers heavily used by her state’s tourism industry, highlighting the detailed negotiations ahead.

The Democrats have daunting obstacles.

In a house and senate where Republican support for relaxing immigration restrictions is typically scarce, they have razor-thin majorities. Acrid partisan relationships were further exacerbated by the clamorous tenure of former President Donald Trump. Biden would have to expend a lot of political resources and time combating the pandemic and rebuilding the economy on previous, higher priority bills, making his future clout unclear.

Furthermore, significant tactical discrepancies would have to be settled by Democrats.

Sharry said immigration groups prefer Democrats to press for a bill as strong as possible without giving Republicans any compromises on issues such as boosting spending on border protection. He said expectations for a bipartisan breakthrough are “the errand of a fool” since for so long the GOP has overwhelmingly resisted expending opportunities for citizenship.

But winning without votes from the GOP would mean virtual unanimity among Democrats in Congress, a huge challenge. That would also suggest that Democrats would either have to abolish the filibuster in the Senate, which they may not have the votes to do, or find other procedural ways through the 60-vote hurdle.

“I’ll start negotiating” with the Republicans, Durbin said. He said a compromise bill “if we can do it” would be much better because it would increase the chances of passage.

Democrats are already facing Republican attacks, eyeing next year’s elections, on a topic that helped dominate Trump’s win in 2016 by boosting his support from many white voters.

Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Minority Leader, said Biden’s bill would “prioritise assistance to illegal immigrants and not our fellow citizens.” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who heads the Senate GOP campaign arm of the National Republican Senate Committee, said the measure would affect “hard-working Americans and millions of immigrants who are working their way through the legal immigration process.”

Democrats say such accusations are false, but on what is a complicated topic, it is hard to write straightforward, sound-bite answers. Instead, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., said in an interview, it needs having “an adult conversation” with voters.

“Yeah, it’s about people, but it’s about the economy,” said Spanberger, a moderate from a district where many immigrants are employed by farmers and technology companies. “We rely on immigration in central Virginia. And you may not like that, but we do.”

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