President Biden’s plan to pass a sweeping immigration overhaul is facing fierce headwinds in Congress, which has emerged as a legislative black hole for reform efforts in recent years.
Biden, as one of his first legislative proposals, outlined a wide-ranging bill that would provide pathways to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants, bolster refugee protections and include new technology along the border.
Democrats acknowledge that a thin majority in the House and the need for GOP support in the Senate is likely to determine what immigration proposals, if any, can pass Congress and make it to Biden’s desk.
“There are some things I think are likely to be included and some things which will be too much of a reach,” said Senate Majority Whip. Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden immigration plans hit early snags Democrats ready to bypass Republicans on COVID-19 relief bill Kaine eyes next week to file censure aiming to bar Trump from future office MORE (D-Ill.), the incoming Judiciary Committee chairman, about Biden’s plan.
Instead, Durbin is planning to start with a smaller issue that already has bipartisan support — the so-called dreamers — when he and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBiden immigration plans hit early snags Durbin, Graham teaming up on immigration bill Bringing America back from the brink MORE (R-S.C.) re-introduce their DREAM Act legislation during the first week of February.
The bill is expected to mirror legislation they’ve offered previously, which extended permanent residency, and eventual citizenship, to immigrants brought into the country illegally as children who meet certain work and education requirements.
Durbin said he views the bipartisan measure as the starting point for larger negotiations about a bill that could get 60 votes in the Senate, the amount needed to overcome a filibuster. If every Democrat voted for an immigration bill, it would still need the support of 10 GOP senators to advance.
“That’ll be our starting point to build support, as well as consider any additions to it. It is tricky territory,” Durbin said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden immigration plans hit early snags Senate confirms Antony Blinken as Biden’s secretary of State Biden must wait weekend for State Department pick MORE (D-N.J.) is taking the lead on legislation that will reflect the Biden-Harris proposal, though he acknowledged that he’s “under no illusions” about the legislative road ahead.
“I know from time in the Gang of Eight that passing immigration reform through the Senate particularly is a Herculean task,” Menendez, who was part of the 2013 effort to pass a comprehensive overhaul, said during an event with immigration reform advocates.
Agreements on immigration have eluded Congress for years. Even though members on both sides of the aisle say they want a deal, they don’t agree on exactly what it should look like.
In 2013, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, with 68 votes, that included a 13-year path to citizenship. The measure ultimately stalled in the GOP-controlled House.
Of the GOP senators who supported that bill, only Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPaul says Roberts’s absence ‘crystalized’ argument against Trump impeachment Democrats ready to bypass Republicans on COVID-19 relief bill How McConnell derailed Trump’s impeachment trial before it started MORE (Maine), Graham, John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Senate GOP opposition grows to objecting to Electoral College results Man charged with criminal mischief for allegedly vandalizing senator’s office with ax MORE (N.D.), Lisa Murowksi (Alaska) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPeters to head Senate Democratic campaign arm The Hill’s Morning Report – Dems question trial; January becomes deadliest pandemic month Biden administration reviewing China genocide designation MORE (Fla.) remain in office.
Getting a deal on…