Biden said he supports passing immigration reform through the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan without any GOP support

Biden
President Joe Biden

  • President Joe Biden said Thursday he supports passing immigration reform without GOP support.
  • Democrats are hoping to pass a $3.5 trillion spending plan through reconciliation.
  • It’s unclear what immigration reform measures are being weighed for inclusion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Speaking to reporters at the White House Thursday, President Joe Biden said he supports including immigration reform measures in the $3.5 trillion spending bill that Democrats hope to pass without any Republican support via the process of reconciliation.

Biden supports creating a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers or immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but said he’s unsure if it would be included in the bill, according to Reuters.

Biden’s remarks followed a meeting at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris and a group of Democratic lawmakers to discuss the DACA program, which prevents the deportation of young immigrants.

Read more: Democrats are readying $3.5 trillion in spending. Meet 13 experts deciding who gets the money.

Sen. Dick Durbin told reporters that Democrats have an opportunity to pass immigration reform measures and that Biden “made it clear to us, unequivocally clear that he stands with our efforts.”

The DACA discussions followed a ruling last month by a judge in Texas that found the program unlawful, causing the suspension of new applications.

Biden’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal advanced in the Senate Wednesday, with 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in supporting it. In addition to the bipartisan plan, which will likely have a final vote in the next week or two, Democrats are hoping to pass a bigger infrastructure bill through reconciliation.

Reconciliation is a legislative tactic that allows lawmakers to pass bills that concern government spending with only a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote threshold needed to avoid a filibuster.

The $3.5 trillion spending package Democrats have proposed would include new social initiatives that Republicans opposed in the bipartisan bill. The initiatives include a national paid-leave program and affordable childcare, among other items.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig in June that Democrats were considering including immigration reform in the bill.

“Anytime there’s been a CBO examination on immigration reform, it produces a significant increase in the GDP without really costing much money,” he said, referring to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

It’s unclear what immigration reform measures would be included in the bill.

In March, House Democrats passed two immigration measures to establish pathways to citizenship for Dreamers and migrant farmworkers. Neither has passed in the Senate, despite a Democratic majority, because they lack the 10 Republican votes needed to avoid a filibuster.

The reconciliation bill would need all 50 Democratic senators on board to pass, but Sen. Kristen Sinema of Arizona said Wednesday she would not support a bill with a $3.5 trillion price tag, setting up the bill to be scaled back.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Democrats are weighing moving immigration reform to help finance Biden’s infrastructure plans without GOP support

senator tim kaine
Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks during a hearing, with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, on the Covid-19 response, on Capitol Hill on March 18, 2021.

  • Tim Kaine said Democrats could potentially include immigration reform provisions to pay for infrastructure.
  • “That could be a very legitimate way to look at trying to find a balanced package,” he said.
  • Some immigration provisions, however, could run into trouble given strict rules governing reconciliation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democrats are weighing tucking immigration reform into a large infrastructure package using reconciliation this summer, a step that could significantly expand the scope of a Democratic-only package.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said that Democrats were interested in fully financing Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure plans instead of deficit-spending, meaning the cost of the plan is added onto the national debt.

“Anytime there’s been a CBO examination on immigration reform, it produces a significant increase in the GDP without really costing much money,” he told Insider, referring to budgetary analyses produced by the Congressional Budget Office.

He went on: “So that may not be a traditional pay-for but if we feel like there’s something we could do within a reconciliation vehicle that could produce significant economic growth.. that could be a very legitimate way to look at trying to find a balanced package.”

Reconciliation is a legislative tactic that requires only a simple majority for bills related to government spending. It’s the same method Democrats used to muscle through the $1.9 trillion stimulus law in March.

Earlier this year, House Democrats passed two measures to set up a legal path to citizenship for farm workers and young immigrants brought to the US as children illegally. Neither has cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate, as it doesn’t have the 10 Republican votes needed to cross the 60-vote filibuster threshold.

Progressive Democrats in the House, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, back a party-line approach to immigration reform, Roll Call reported.

Kaine also told reporters that “big picture” immigration ideas were discussed among the Senate Democrats attending a major infrastructure strategy meeting late on Wednesday.

Experts say some immigration provisions could run into trouble with reconciliation’s main arbiter because not all would be directly related to the federal budget – a key rule of the process.

“Immigration reform, like the 2013 Gang of Eight bill for example, definitely has a CBO score,” Zach Moller, a budget expert at the liberal-leaning organization Third Way, told Insider. “But not all provisions will have a budget score and those that have savings or costs may run into issues if the parliamentarian rules the effects are ‘merely incidental’ to the underlying policy.”

Moller pointed to the 2013 immigration reform plan which CBO projected would have saved $175 billion over a decade. Those negotiations ultimately collapsed due to conservative attacks.

For now, Democrats are taking a two-pronged approach to the infrastructure discussions. They are still negotiating with Republicans on a skinny bill while setting the stage to approve a massive package without GOP support in several months.

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Rep. Veronica Escobar says that Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are using the southern border ‘as a prop’

Veronica Escobar
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) speaks on Capitol Hill.

  • Rep. Veronica Escobar said that Sens. Cruz and Cornyn are using the border “as a prop.”
  • Escobar said that the root causes of immigration must be addressed or the situation will not change.
  • “They had their chance to govern,” she said of Cruz and Cornyn. “They chose not to.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas said in a recent Daily Beast podcast interview that a southern border tour held last Friday by GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn was simply “political theater.”

During an episode of “The New Abnormal” featuring editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast, Escobar lamented that immigration has been politicized to a point where crafting real solutions has been absent from the debate.

“I think there are 18 senators that are parachuting into Texas and that delegation is led by John Cornyn and Ted Cruz,” she said. “These are people who are about to engage in political theater, use the border as a prop, [and] do a whole lot of complaining and finger-pointing. But these are the same people who’ve been in the Senate for a number of years.”

She added: “They were in the Senate when their party had control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. They did not solve this problem.”

Escobar said that with the exception of former President Donald Trump’s child separation policy, the “vast majority” of his immigration policies are still in effect.

“It didn’t stop people from coming,” she said. “They had their chance to govern. They chose not to.”

The offices of Cruz and Cornyn did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: Meet the presidential confidants, Delaware’s closely-knit and well-positioned congressional delegation, Joe Biden’s entrusted with cementing his legacy

In 2014, Escobar, who represents a border district anchored in El Paso, wrote a piece called “Why the Border Crisis Is a Myth,” where she said many politicians were catering anti-immigrant sentiments to justify tightened immigration restrictions.

“What has happened repeatedly from Washington has been this idea that if we could just tough enough on the border, all of our immigration challenges will go away,” she said. “The walls kept getting bigger and taller and thicker and uglier, [with] investments in drones and personnel. Enter Donald Trump and his cruelty and dehumanization. What we now know after four years of some of the most draconian immigration policies is unless you address the root causes, you’re not going to change things much.”

She added: “The other thing that I hope we realize is that migration will happen. You cannot stop migration. People move around. What you can do is do your best as a country to work collaboratively with leaders of your hemisphere.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the former 2020 Democratic presidential contender and 2018 Democratic Senate nominee in Texas, recently mocked Cruz’s footage of his border excursion at the Rio Grande.

In a blurry video that Cruz posted on his Twitter account, he alleged to have observed smugglers on the other side of the US-Mexico border.

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Trump-appointed federal judge indefinitely blocks the Biden administration’s 100-day deportation freeze

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A US Customs and Border Protection vehicle patrols a new section of the border wall in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on August 27, 2020.

  • A federal judge blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a 100-day deportation freeze.
  • The ruling does not mandate that deportations have to return to their previous rate.
  • Democrats are hoping to pass a large-scale immigration overhaul in Congress this year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A federal judge in Texas indefinitely blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing a 100-day deportation freeze, according to the Associated Press.

US District Judge Drew Tipton granted a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, halting the moratorium that the Biden administration announced last month.

The ruling serves as a win for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, who filed a lawsuit against the government over the moratorium. The administration’s policy was unveiled by the US Department of Homeland Security in a memorandum shortly after Biden’s inauguration.

Last month, Tipton, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, issued a 14-day temporary restraining order to stop any enforcement of the moratorium, arguing at the time that the Homeland Security memo didn’t “consider potential policies more limited in scope and time” or “provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause.”

Tipton also ruled last month that the moratorium ran afoul of federal law on administrative procedure and that the administration didn’t sufficiently justify the pause.

Tuesday’s injunction will extend the temporary restraining order. However, this ruling does not mandate that deportations have to go back to to their previous rate. Even in the absence of a moratorium, federal immigration agencies will have wide leeway in enforcing deportations and processing cases.

Biden, who campaigned on a 100-day deportation freeze during his campaign as a part of his review of immigration policies and enforcement, has sought to turn the page from Trump’s aggressive crackdown on immigration.

The president has proposed a comprehensive immigration bill that would offer a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million people who are living in the United States illegally.

After years of false starts, Democrats are hoping to finally pass a large-scale overhaul, but top Republicans have already begun rallying against any policies they deem as granting “amnesty.”

The judicial fight over the deportation ban is an early indicator of GOP resistance to Biden’s immigration priorities, a reversal of the frequent Democratic-led judicial battles against Trump’s proposals.

As of Wednesday morning, it was not yet clear if the Biden administration plans to appeal Tipton’s latest ruling.

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