Biden Loses Support From Former GOP Immigration Allies
“God, no,” said Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) in response to a question regarding a bipartisan immigration bill. “I’m not in support of legalizing one person until you’re in control of the border.”
Despite his recent comments, Graham did, in fact, support a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013, joining efforts with four Democrats and three Republicans. Additionally, Graham has reportedly been talking to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) about an immigration accord, and the pair have worked to reintroduce the DREAM Act, though it may not win any Republican votes in the Senate.
Graham has also remained loyal to former President Donald Trump, but he is not the only Republican who poses a problem for President Joe Biden’s Senate agenda. It appears that few Republican senators are willing to participate in bipartisan efforts, let alone aid Biden’s plans for a minimum wage increase and a huge infrastructure program. Biden’s policies will be especially hard to pass given the 60-vote threshold to move legislation in the 50-50 Senate.
Nonetheless, some GOP senators are interested in helping Dreamers. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the only Republican who supported Biden’s Health and Human Services nominee on Thursday, noted that “many of us support giving a path to citizenship” to younger immigrants. “But now the border is such a disaster that I don’t see how you can do just a bill to deal with Dreamers,” she added.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) noted the lack of bipartisan cooperation in the Senate. “At this point, I don’t have four Republicans who are willing to make a commitment to the whole thing. Or to a pathway to achieve the whole thing. We’re not there yet. I’m not giving up,” he said.
Menendez may be right not to give up. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) are viewed as potential Democratic partners. However, Romney, Tillis and Lankford said this week that a clean DREAM Act is not an option.
Durbin commented on the possibility for collaboration with other Republicans. “When you sit down and draw up the list of potential Republicans that might come on board, it is challenging. It isn’t like we have 20 and we got like the first 10,” he said. “I wish. Trump really set the stage and said, ‘Immigration is going to be an issue for the future of the Republican Party. And we’re against it.'”
In addition to Graham, Tillis once offered a 15-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people, but now he is saying he can’t support a Republican proposal. “There’s no scenario I would support even what we called the SUCCEED Act, which was a path to citizenship for the [Dreamers], without it being paired with border security,” he said.
Despite the lack of support from Republicans, Democrats might have an ally in Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is retiring in 2022 and wants to see an immigration deal before he leaves. When asked if he sees the potential for a future deal, he said, “I do. But no one else does.”