House Republicans offer rebuttal to Biden immigration plan

House Republicans rolled out their rebuttal to President Biden’s immigration plan Wednesday, maintaining that Democrats’ proposal is unworkable amid a mushrooming crisis at the southern border.

A group of nine GOP lawmakers led by Rep. Maria E. Salazar (Fla.) introduced their own immigration proposal, saying their plan, rather than the one proposed by Democrats, will aid undocumented immigrants spread across the United States.

“[M]y Democrat colleagues have presented an immigration reform law that they know, they know will never become law in the way that it has been written,” Salazar said at a press conference.

“As Hispanics, we don’t want any more false promises, false hopes. We want for those 11 million undocumented who are here in the country to be treated with dignity. But this will not happen, it will not happen, if we don’t stop the madness at the border with real, permanent solutions, not with executive orders,” she said.

The GOP plan involves boosting funding for enhanced border security; protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, known as DREAMers; providing a 10-year path to a renewable legal status for undocumented immigrants who have not committed any crimes; and expanding visas for agricultural workers.

It would also implement mandatory E-Verify, which companies would use to certify they do not employ undocumented workers, and includes language mandating that lawmakers must “ensure border security is completed before other reforms take place.”

“We have gathered here this morning as a group of Republican congressmen and congresswomen to demonstrate that no party holds a monopoly on compassion. We Republicans, we’re compassionate, too. We want to give dignity to those who have lived here among us for years. And to those who want to come into this country, they have to follow the law,” said Salazar. 

The proposal comes amid partisan bickering on Capitol Hill over a surge of migrants at the southern border. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday that the number of attempted migrant crossings at the southern border is on track to reach a 20-year high. 

The recent spike in attempted crossings is due in part to worsening economic conditions in Central America and border smugglers encouraging migrants to come under the new U.S. president.

Biden has proposed a sweeping immigration reform plan that would create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, boost the number of available diversity visas, direct more funding to immigration courts to address a sprawling backlog and increase technology at the border.

In tacit recognition that such a sweeping plan is unlikely to pass Congress in one fell swoop, Democrats in the House are hoping to pass two piecemeal bills Thursday that would provide a pathway to citizenship just for DREAMers and grant legal status for agricultural workers.

“We need to deal with this present problem, but what we need to deal with … is comprehensive immigration reform so there is a rational system in place that we can all agree is a system that can and should and must work,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

However, Republicans have come out swinging against the Democrats’ proposal, saying it insufficiently addresses the ongoing crisis at the border.

“Biden has lost control of the U.S.-Mexican border. Until he regains control by implementing policies that work, it’s going to be very hard to do the DREAMers or anybody else,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said at Wednesday’s press conference. “What we have to do is regain control of the border, get it in a calmer status, sit down with Democrats who will find the middle, and the president himself has to get involved. Once we regain control of the border, count me in for sitting down and doing what I’ve been doing for years, trying to find a workable solution. But until we control the border, that is impossible.”

Immigration has long been a third rail of politics in Washington and the debate around it was only electrified further during the Trump administration, which imposed a string of hard-line policies.

Salazar said her plan was intended to show Republicans too could show compassion toward immigrants.

She specifically called out 12 House Democrats from border states “to come to the table and help us finish this business and help us right this wrong. We extend … our collective hand in bipartisan cooperation to fix this once and for all.”

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas American immigration crisis border surge Immigration Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Maria Elvira Salazar migrants southern border Steny Hoyer
See all Hill.TV See all Video