EXCLUSIVE: A broad coalition of hawkish immigration groups and former Trump administration officials are sounding the alarm about a Democratic push to get an amnesty for illegal immigrants passed in the final days of the current Congress — and telling Republican leaders to “take all actions necessary” to block it.
Groups including the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Heritage Foundation, NumbersUSA and the America First Policy Institute have signed onto a letter to congressional leaders warning of an “immediate danger posed by the lame-duck session of Congress that is now underway.”
“Even though power is about to change hands in one chamber, various media outlets report there will be attempts to push damaging immigration legislation such as a mass amnesty and increased immigration through Congress over the next few weeks,” they say.
Former officials signed onto the letter include former acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau, former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, former acting ICE Director Tom Homan and former Customs and Border Protection Chief Mark Morgan. Also signed on include former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russ Vought and former deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.
FILE: Migrants attempting to cross in to the U.S. from Mexico are detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the border August 20, 2022 in San Luis, Arizona.
(Nick Ut/Getty Images)
Both the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress have been pushing for a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants since the administration took office in early 2021, but it has so far failed due to a lack of votes and Republican support.
Since the midterms, which determined that Republicans will take the House early next year, Democrats have ramped up their push for an amnesty for illegal immigrants eligible for the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program in the final months of the Congress.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said at a recent press conference that, with Republicans set to take the House, time was running out to get legislation passed and demanded action after the Thanksgiving break.
“We know that it’s important in December, that we pass the DREAM Act — December of this year when we return from Thanksgiving — because if the House moves, as we think it might politically, it becomes increasingly difficult after the first of the year to take up this issue. We need to do it now and to do it we need bipartisan support in the Senate,” Durbin said.
Durbin said there are four or five Republicans who would support it, but Democrats need “10 Republicans who will step up and join us in this effort” to overcome a filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, said that while the short-term goal was the DREAM Act, the ultimate goal is much broader, but that could wait for the next Senate.
“We have a population that is not reproducing on its own with the same level that it used to,” Schumer said. “The only way we’re going to have a great future in America is if we welcome and embrace immigrants, the dreamers and all of them, because our ultimate goal is to help the dreamers, but get a path to citizenship for all 11 million or however many undocumented there are here. And we will be pursuing that in the next Senate.”
Meanwhile, there are a number of other potential immigration pushes in the work on the legal immigration front — including a potential vote on the EAGLE Act, which would end per-country caps on employment-based visas and has bipartisan support.
The signatories cited polling that they said shows over 60% of midterm voters wanted Congress to focus on securing the border and enforcing immigration law, while less than 10% believe a pathway to citizenship should be at the top of the agenda.
“We therefore ask that you take all actions necessary to stop these efforts,” they say.
“We urge you to show the American people that you stand with them by rejecting special interest legislation and instead taking immediate steps to reverse this crisis and restore law and order to our immigration system,” they say.
The groups previously urged congressional leaders to unite behind a “flagship” border security bill to end the crisis at the southern border, which saw more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in FY 2022, and that some lawmakers and officials fear will get worse when Title 42 expulsions end next month.
But before the leaders can get to those negotiations, the signatories say, they must navigate the choppy waters of the lame-duck session.
“Do not allow special interests to take advantage of the lame-duck session to pass their bankrupt immigration agenda and throw average Americans under the bus,” they say. “The American people are, after all, the ultimate stakeholders in our immigration system. They have voiced their will and we urge you to respect it.”
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., the head of the Republican Study Committee recently told Fox News Digital that the party must “do everything we can to block amnesty.”
Republicans have already been gearing up for a Congress that will likely focus a great deal on the border crisis. GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy led a GOP delegation to the border last week and said that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas must either resign or face a possible impeachment investigation. He has also said that Republicans will not support any amnesty for illegal immigrants.