How Menendez hopes to get Biden’s immigration bill passed

Posted Jan 21, 2021

Passing immigration legislation will require business, labor and outside groups to work together to push Congress to act, the bill’s chief Senate sponsor said Thursday.

“We ned you to give it everything you’ve got,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez told the American Business Immigration Council.

President Joe Biden proposed the bill on his first day in office, highlighting its importance to the new administration in contrast to his predecessor’s efforts to revoke protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for unauthorized immigrants brought to the country as children, known as dreamers.

Biden also ended funding for the southern border wall that President Donald Trump promoted, calling the wall “a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.”

The legislation would provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants who first must undergo background checks and pay taxes, protect the dreamers from being deported, provide aid to the Central American countries to address the causes that lead to mass migrations, make it easier to keep families together, and limit a president’s ability to ban immigration on the basis of religion.

New Jersey has 475,000 unauthorized immigrants, fifth highest among the 50 states, according to the Pew Research Center.

Biden’s bill also would increase the use of technology to detect narcotics coming in over the border and develop a strategy to secure the southern border.

“You must make the case for immigration reform not just for immigrants and their families but to Americans of all walks of life,” Menendez said. “It time to put political capital and every other capital on the table to make this happen.”

For example, Menendez said business groups should not contribute to campaigns of politicians who “stoke fear, spread xenophobia and stymie progress for reform.

A top official of one of those business groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, endorsed efforts to pass legislation but declined to answer whether the organization would withhold funding from immigration opponents.

“We think we have a very compelling case to make on the need for immigration reform,” said Neil Bradley, the chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer. “We don’t believe it’s amnesty. We will be making that case to every Republican and every Democrat on the Hill.”

Even though Democrats control the White House and Congress, they need some Republican support to pass the bill since they need 60 votes in the Senate. In 2013, Menendez was part of a bipartisan Gang of Eight that came up with legislation that received 68 votes, only to die in the House when the Republican majority refused to vote on it.

“I’ve reached out to half a dozen Republicans on immigration and they’ve been open to the conversation,” said another member of the Gang of Eight, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., according to pool reports. “We haven’t agreed on anything but they’ve been open to it and that’s what it’s gonna take. We just have to try if we can get 60 people together on both sides.”

A Republican member of the Gang of Eight, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said the Biden proposal was more liberal than the original bipartisan deal and “their challenge is they got to show that they’re going to be able to do the border security part of it,” according to pool reports.

He said that in a 50-50 Senate, the best shot at legislation would a bill that protected the dreamers.

“I just think comprehensive immigration is going to be a tough sale, given this environment, but doing DACA I think is possible,” Graham said.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-01-22 04:29:01 -0800