The Democrat Created Pathway to Immigration Reform that Requires Zero Democrat Votes
When it comes to immigration, the two parties want completely divergent outcomes. Dems want amnesty and a continuing flow of immigrants across the southern border. Republicans, or at least the Republican base, want people here illegally to be deported back to their home country and a stop to the ongoing flow of migrants across the southern border. The difference? The desires of the Republican party are effectively already the current law of the land and are only lacking political will and funding.
Why does that matter? Because you can't change policy via reconciliation but you can fund priorities, as the Democrats have just proven over the last year. Throughout 2021, when Democrats' hopes were still in the clouds believing they would stack the courts and turn DC into a state, they attempted to amnesty 6.5 million immigrants only to be thwarted by the Parliamentarian over and over again.
"On December 16, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough issued an opinion stripping a “parole” amnesty for upwards of 6.5 million aliens illegally present in the United States from H.R. 5376, the “Build Back Better Act” (BBB). Her opinion is not that big a surprise: This is the third attempt by congressional Democrats to sneak an amnesty into that environmental and social spending bill, and the third time that the parliamentarian has shut them down. Expect them to keep trying, at least publicly."
Ultimately, if the Democrats want to achieve their goal of giving citizenship to illegal immigrants, they are going to need Republican votes. Republicans on the other hand can accomplish their immigration priorities via reconciliation, meaning they don't need one Democrat vote as long as they control the House and 51 votes in the Senate at a time when there is a Republican President. What should those goals be? What funding outcomes could transform our immigration system?
Let's start with the following:
$15 billion to finish the wall and all associated security features
Hire 20,000 new immigration judges
Hire 50,000 new ICE agents
Fully fund ($20 billion) foreign aid programs tied to stay in nation programs with Mexico and northern triangle countries
Establish block grants to states certified as compliant with ICE (no funding for sanctuary states/cities)
Number one is easy and straightforward. Under Trump, the courts ruled that the laws already existed to build a wall on the southern border. George Bush's "Secure Fence Act of 2006" provides the legal underpinning. The only thing that was missing was funding. Trump famously used executive power to redirect money from the defense budget. So Congress could clearly just fund the completion of the wall.
Numbers two and three can also be accomplished via reconciliation. We just saw Democrats hire 87,000 IRS agents. So clearly funding the hiring of more executive branch employees in already established categories is viable without one Democrat vote.
The justification for catch and release policies has always been that "unfortunately" there aren't enough judges to process asylum claims. So the migrant is issued a temporary status and required to return on the day of their hearing. This problem is easily solved. Hire a bunch of new immigration judges.
Then you have the challenge of removing people within the country who haven't appeared as required for their court date. Removing illegal immigrants is a slow methodical process. Why? Well first off you need to be precise and only target people who should rightly be removed. But the larger limitation is that we only have a limited number of ICE agents. Well, if we can hire 87,000 IRS agents then I think we can hire at least 50,000 new ICE agents.
On number four, Trump already laid the groundwork and the game plan for stopping the flow to our border. It starts in Central America. The agreements and policies were all in place and working until Biden canceled them. Stay in Mexico along with the other programs that kept migrants in their home country as their asylum claims were processed were amongst Trump's biggest successes. The courts have already affirmed their feasibility. Let's now use funding to supercharge them.
Throughout Trump's Presidency, one of the most challenging obstacles to his immigration plans was the lawless "sanctuary" cities and states. Federalism seemed to be an obstacle to executing raids in these areas. It can be done but it would be very messy to be in combat with the local authorities as you attempted to execute operations. So instead I suggest you make it expensive for these jurisdictions.
Democrats love to use the purse strings to force Republican districts to follow Federal rules on everything from school lunch items to transgender locker room policies to green energy standards. Well, I say what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Let's tie block grant funding to certification on immigration compliance.
All politicians running for Congress or the Presidency should make certain fundamental promises around this plan.
They will only support party leadership that supports this plan
Every illegal immigrant that entered the US under President Biden will be processed and deported within the first 2 years of a new Republican administration in 2025/2026
They will not fund the government until these immigration policies are enacted. Period.
Democrats get nothing on immigration until Republicans pass these things via reconciliation
Ultimately we don’t need immigration "reform". We need enforcement on steroids. Once we have that then we can assess whether we also need reform. Democrats' use/abuse of reconciliation has opened a path to implementing Republican immigration priorities which are centered around enforcing existing law. This needs to become the rallying cry through 2024.