Politics

Immigration Hawk: ‘What’s the Difference’ Between Ryan, Pelosi if Both Back Amnesty?

Krikorian worries GOP will 'cave' and give DACA recipients legal status 'in exchange for basically nothing'

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), said it wouldn’t make much of a difference if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were in control of the chamber if Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) backs amnesty for illegal aliens. He spoke during an interview Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

Krikorian spoke just before Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program “is being rescinded” with a six-month delay. Although Congress has the opportunity to use amnesty for DACA recipients as a bargaining chip to fight for stricter immigration enforcement measures, he said he fears the GOP-led Congress will cave on this issue as it has on the president’s other key legislative goals.

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“[Republicans are] going to go into the elections in 2018 not having repealed Obamacare but having given DACAs an amnesty? I mean, you know — why wasn’t Nancy Pelosi speaker? What’s the difference?” Krikorian asked.

After Congress’ lengthy and humiliating inability to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, and while tax reform and infrastructure reform have yet to be tackled, the executive director for CIS said he didn’t have much hope that Congress would honor Trump’s immigration agenda, either.

“The buck has to stop at [Trump’s] desk,” Krikorian said. “But my real concern here is that the administration not go along with what Congress — some in Congress — will want to do, which is give the DACAs all amnesty in exchange for basically nothing or almost nothing.”

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Both Ryan and Pelosi used statements shortly after Sessions made his announcement. Both emphasized their commitment to protecting DACA recipients.

“At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own, and for many of them it’s the only country they know,” Ryan said. “Their status is one of many immigration issues, such as border security and interior enforcement, which Congress has failed to adequately address over the years.”

“It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country,” the House speaker added.

For her own part, Pelosi said, “President Trump’s decision to end DACA should break the hearts and offend the morals of all who believe in justice and human dignity. This cruel act of political cowardice deals a stunning blow to the bright young dreamers [Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors beneficiaries] and to everyone who cherishes the American Dream.”

“Congress must move immediately to protect these courageous, patriotic dreamers. House Republicans must join Democrats to pass legislation to safeguard our young dreamers from the senseless cruelty of deportation and shield families from separation and heartbreak,” she added. “Democrats will stand firm with dreamers and redouble our efforts to protect our nation’s families from the Trump Administration’s mass deportation agenda.”

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With congressional Republicans and Democrats alike scrambling to protect the dreamers, Krikorian expressed his fear that the president is “ambivalent” about the whole issue, as evidenced by Sessions delivering the announcement instead of Trump.

“If the president were actually committed — this is my concern — to this DACA issue, he would be able to go out and say … ‘We’re ending this now. Here’s what we want Congress to do. Here’s the little package we want. This is — and I’m going to veto any DACA amnesty that doesn’t have E-Verify and doesn’t have legal immigration cuts,'” Krikorian said. “We’re not hearing that.”

Blaming Obama for dumping “this steaming pile of DACA” on Trump’s lap, he lamented that the only way now for Trump’s voters to receive the immigration reform they voted for “is to try to rope in Democrats with a DACA amnesty.”

“So this is one of those danger but also opportunity moments,” Krikorian said. “Now look, the Republican Party’s a stupid party, and they may well screw it up. But I think we need to take the chance on this and see if we can get something out of an amnesty for the DACAs by getting, you know, E-Verify and some of Sen. [Tom] Cotton’s (R-Ark.) RAISE Act provisions that get rid of these extended family categories.”

The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act would limit legal immigration numbers and would prevent immigrants’ extended-family members from receiving visas.

(photo credit, homepage image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr / Michael Worley; photo credit, article image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr / U.S. Department of Labor)

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