Congressional Hardliners Confident on Immigration Action in 2017 | Jan 2017

Hard-Liners Are Confident Heading Into Immigration Battle

– Roll Call

“Donald Trump’s administration will feature a host of emboldened immigration hard-liners plucked from Congress, chief among them Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the president-elect’s pick for attorney general.

Lawmakers on the right, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have signaled that they’ll look to deal with the southern border in some way — though it’s unclear whether that means building Trump’s much-promised wall.

Currently, there are 702 miles of mostly single-layer fencing along the roughly 2,000-mile border. Legislation passed in 2006 authorized two layers of fencing but was later amended to give flexibility on the matter. Republicans, and Trump himself, are now talking about a combination of fencing and wall.

Some lawmakers and conservative advocates say they would be in favor of expanding a voluntary system for employers known as E-Verify to check an employee’s legal status — a Trump campaign pledge.

Senate Democrats and some Republicans have staked out an early position, saying they would likely fight any bill that does not in some way address the plight of the children of undocumented immigrants.

Some 740,000 of these children have received benefits under a 2012 Obama executive order establishing a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Most commonly, they are referred to as “Dreamers,” derived from an acronym for failed 2010 legislation. Every Dreamer, though, is not part of the DACA program.

During the campaign, Trump vowed to end the program, though Democrats and advocates say doing so could put at risk of deportation those who should be held blameless.

“If they start deporting these innocent, young people, they’re in for a fight, and I take it personally,” said Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois. Durbin was an original co-sponsor of a 2001 bill that sought to give legal status to Dreamers.

Durbin and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have announced legislation that seeks to extend legal status to Dreamers for three years while the next Congress seeks to tackle other immigration issues. Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a bill co-sponsor, introduced a separate effort that would pair protection for Dreamers with language expediting the removal of undocumented criminals.

If Republicans want to get something through the Senate to show voters for the 2018 midterm elections, they’ll need to hold the entire GOP conference together and peel off at least eight Democratic votes to break the 60-vote filibuster threshold.

If Republicans are able to persuade vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2018 like Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and consolidate GOP support, it’s entirely possible they could jam through a border wall, increased enforcement and expanded E-Verify. Tester told Roll Call that it would be difficult for him to vote against a standalone border security bill.

Advocacy groups are aware of this dynamic.

“It’s pretty obvious that we’ll be working on finding eight Democrats who will break the filibuster,” said Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, a conservative group that has long opposed a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. “Because they don’t want to stand against the working man in the next election.”

Perhaps the biggest question mark is Speaker Paul D. Ryan. In 2013, he signaled he favored some way to move the undocumented population to legal status, but that prompted a backlash on the right.”

….Continue reading @ Roll Call

 

 

Trump takes aim at House Republicans, and they run for cover

– Washington Post

“The Trump effect has landed forcefully on Capitol Hill.

Less than two hours after President-elect Donald Trump criticized House Republicans — in a tweet, of course — for trying to gut an ethics investigative unit on the first day of business in the new Congress, those plans lay in shambles in the Republican conference’s meeting room.

The immediate outcome was to keep intact the independent Office of Congressional Ethics — exactly the status quo that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and his leadership team had hoped to protect. That result, however, appeared largely to be the result of Trump’s intervention rather than Ryan’s maneuvering.

There was a broader outcome, too: The unruly Republican caucus that has wreaked havoc in the House for the entirety of Ryan’s tenure fell in line. And there were signs, judging from Tuesday’s drama, that they might continue doing so this year.

House leaders attributed the reversal of the ethics decision to many factors, not the least of which was a rough period of media coverage highlighting how the lawmakers were abandoning Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” of Washington of corruption.

But lurking behind it all was the prospect that Trump’s political power, now aimed at Capitol Hill, can instill fear and force action. By aiming his social-media fire hose on fellow Republicans — even as he assembles a Cabinet filled with billionaires and insiders — Trump made clear that he intends to continue giving voice to the anti-establishment outsiders who propelled him through the Republican primaries against much more seasoned politicians and to an electoral-college win against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Now, their party’s leader wields a Twitter account with 18.5 million followers. As he prepares to enter the Oval Office in little more than two weeks, Trump is far more popular in their districts than they are. He employs as his chief strategist the former leader of Breitbart News, a conservative media outlet that has included among its top targets the skewering of Republicans not deemed suitably conservative.”

…Continue reading @ WashingtonPost