With Time Running Out, Immigration Reform Suddenly Has A Pulse

The basic elements of a bipartisan compromise on immigration policy have been the same for nearly two decades. During George W. Bush’s presidency, there was a breakthrough compromise that included increased border security — addressing a Republican priority — and protections for “Dreamers” and other undocumented immigrants — addressing a Democratic priority. The deal failed when House Republicans balked.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, an eerily similar compromise took shape and passed the Senate with relative ease. It also failed when House Republicans balked.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, there was an additional wrinkle when the White House insisted on literal, physical border barriers — a so-called “wall” — but even when Democrats agreed to the terms of an agreement, Republicans rejected the compromise.

With this recent history in mind, reform advocates on the left and right have kept expectations low during Joe Biden’s presidency. Indeed, once it became clear that the House GOP would soon reclaim a majority, the odds of success quickly evaporated. But as NBC News reported, the door that appeared closed is suddenly ajar once again.

On Capitol Hill, there tends to be a difference between “draft frameworks” and actual legislative text. When Sinema and Tillis appear to have done is settle on a series of compromise measures, which aren’t yet final, and which are circulating in the form of a blueprint instead of a bill. It’s a big step toward progress, but even the most ambitious optimists will concede that the race to the finish line won’t be easy.

First and foremost, it’s important to acknowledge what’s in the new plan. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent was first to report yesterday on the contents of the agreement, which includes a path to citizenship for 2 million “Dreamers,” new resources to speed up the processing of asylum seekers, expedited removal of migrants who don’t qualify for asylum, an extension of the Title 42 Covid health restrictions, and, of course, increased investments for Border Patrol and border security.

By Steve Benen for MSNBC
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