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Dems rip 'wimpy' GOP immigration moves

Dems rip 'wimpy' GOP immigration moves
© Lauren Schneiderman

House Democrats on Wednesday hammered the GOP's approach to immigration reform, saying the border security bill moving through the House is a "wimpy" approach to tackling an enormous problem.

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"They shouldn't try to fool anybody," Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraSecond court blocks Trump's order to exclude undocumented immigrants from census California Republicans agree not to use unofficial ballot drop boxes Schwarzenegger: California GOP has gone 'off the rails' with unofficial ballot boxes MORE (Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "This needs a big fix, and tinkering on the edges doesn't solve it. And trying to avoid dealing with the tough issues is a wimpy way to make policy in Washington, D.C."

Republicans are moving quickly this month on legislation designed to secure the southern border by requiring the Homeland Security Department to block all illegal migrations within five years, or two years for high-traffic regions.

Behind Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the House Homeland Security Committee is marking up the bill on Wednesday, with GOP leaders eying a floor vote next week.

The bill represents a stark departure from McCaul's strategy in the last Congress, when he reached across the aisle to craft a bipartisan border security bill that passed through the committee with unanimous support.

McCaul's more partisan approach in the new Congress has not been overlooked by Democrats, who are accusing Republicans of playing politics on the issue instead of trying to solve the nation's immigration problems more comprehensively.

"The suggestion that maybe this is the beginning of a piecemeal approach, it's a big leap for us to take when there's been no confidence-building whatsoever," Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday. "To suggest that Mr. McCaul's legislation on border security is going to be that attempt is, I think, many members of our caucus are going to find that very hard to believe."

One such Democrat is Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeePocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime MORE (Texas), a member of the Homeland Security panel who hammered McCaul's bill as "a political statement" that sets unrealistic metrics for the DHS.

"This is a horror of a bill," she told The Hill Tuesday. "There's no basis in fact that would move us from the bipartisan bill that we passed [last Congress] with all of our colleagues. 

“The cost is enormous,” she said of the new bill, “and it's just impossible for the Homeland Security Department, I believe, to even engage in some of the responsibilities being asked for.”

McCaul will also face dissent from within his own party. Although he has characterized his bill as "the most significant and toughest border security bill ever set before Congress," conservatives in both chambers disagree, arguing that it doesn't go far enough to deter migrants from crossing the border.

"We cannot be satisfied with measures that create the appearance of doing something while changing little," Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBiden fact checks Trump on 545 families separated at border, calls policy 'criminal' Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House MORE (R-Ala.) said Tuesday in criticizing McCaul's proposal.

Becerra emphasized that Democrats want an immigration fix, and are ready to work across the aisle to get it done. But with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, he added, the ball is in their court.