CMR's Immigration Duplicity
As I pointed out in detail yesterday (and Shawn Vestal pointed out earlier), there is no legal immigration emergency. The only real emergency is what the Republicans, under the leadership of Trump, Miller, and Sessions are doing to the Dreamers, by rescinding the DACA program, and to families, by instituting the "zero tolerance" family separation program, an echo of concentration camps.
How is McMorris Rodgers responding to all this? She has sympathy for the plight of the Dreamers, at least some of the Dreamers. She tears up hearing their stories. She makes a statement criticizing the family separation policy. It may surprise you to read this from me, but I believe she is sincere in her sympathy... but, as a legislative matter, her sympathy only extends to those with whom she can personally identify. The forum she attended at which she teared up featured DACA students, middle to upper middle class young folk who speak English as well as McMorris Rodgers, diligent students threatened with deportation through no fault of their own. McMorris Rodgers' limited circle of sympathy for the Dreamers is on display in the legislation she crafts and supports.
At Green Bluff on May 29th McMorris Rodgers said she "is working hard" to produce legislation to "protect" the Dreamers. The bill she crafted, H.R.6136: Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018, provides a very narrow opening through which a few select Dreamers might squeeze themselves to "legal status," a new kind of limbo. "Citizenship" is never mentioned. The legislative story and McMorris Rodgers' duplicitous involvement is detailed below. If time is short or attention limited, skip to the Take Home three paragraphs from the bottom.
McMorris Rodgers wants it both ways. She wants everyone to believe she wants the best for the Dreamers and for immigrant families. Simultaneously, she wants her Fox News watching, Trump supporting base to understand she is working hard to cut down on all forms of immigration, legal and illegal. Her base has bought the myth of the "immigration crisis," the supposed hoards of rapists and gang members approaching our border in a conga line.
Her first act on returning to D.C. was an act of omission: She refused to sign the Discharge Petition on immigration that might have forced a vote on a standalone Dream Act. None of the Republicans really want to have to go on record as openly voting against the Dreamers. No, that would be too obvious.
What followed then was political theater. McMorris Rodgers and the Republican bloc know passage of immigration reform through the House is unlikely, and passage through the Senate is impossible without Democratic votes. They must keep a solution for the Dreamer's plight as a bargaining chip, so there will be no up and down vote on the Dream Act.
On June 21st McMorris Rodgers voted against H.R. 4760: Securing America’s Future Act of 2018. This was an awful, draconian bill pushed by the Freedom Caucus. It offered almost nothing to the Dreamers (a three year "renewable" status) in exchange for a full re-do of immigration law. McMorris Rodgers voted against H.R. 4760. It failed 193 to 231 with every Democrat and forty-one Republicans voting against it. Along the way, though, McMorris Rodgers also voted with every other Republican against an amendment offered by Democrats. That proposal would have amended H.R. 4670 to afford a clear permanent legal status and a path to citizenship for the Dreamers. It failed on a totally party-line vote, 191-234. What was McMorris Rodgers thinking? Where were her teary eyes over the Dreamers' stories? She sold out her sympathy (sympathy that was always very limited) in exchange for the Republican Party line.
Having voted against the nastier of the Republican bills (H.R. 4760), McMorris Rodgers and the Republican leadership focused the next week on the "compromise" bill she had "worked hard" on, H.R.6136: Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018. (Keep remembering, though, she had to know these were all symbolic votes: the chance of being taken up and passed by the Senate were zero to none.) Her bill, H.R. 6136, offers little more to the Dreamers than did H.R. 4670, the bill she voted against. McMorris Rodgers' preferred bill offers a six year "contingent nonimmigrant status" for a narrowly defined subset of Dreamers either enrolled in or graduated from U.S. schools, Dreamers who also can manage to scrape together $1000 for a "border security fee." You can read the legalize of H.R. 4670's DIVISION B—IMMIGRATION REFORM, TITLE I—LAWFUL STATUS FOR CERTAIN CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS here, It suspends a few qualified Dreamers in a fresh new limbo without a clear path to citizenship and leaves most of them subject to deportation.
McMorris Rodgers, understandably, voted "Aye" for her bill, H.R. 6136. Even so, it failed miserably, 121-301 with 112 Republicans voting "No." (Only 41 Republicans voted "No" on H.R. 4760, the even nastier version.)
Take Home: McMorris Rodgers may be sincerely sympathetic to some of the Dreamer's stories. She recognizes among them some who are enough like her so she can identify with their plight. As an upper middle class mom, she tries to sell that sympathy to her constituents as though it were one of her core values and as though that value extended to Dreamers in general. Then she goes to Washington, crafts a narrow and partial solution for those few Dreamers and says she's "working hard." Almost no one notices that McMorris Rodgers' bill would keep the few Dreamers it helped as a bargaining chip for another day. The Dreamers cannot be allowed to become citizens. No matter how deserving they must be kept in metaphoric legal cages to be trotted out another day. Such is McMorris Rodgers' sympathy.
Meanwhile, she buys the Republican line that immigration is a huge and growing problem that justifies a total re-write of immigration law. Does she even know that, according to federal data, immigration is already at the lowest level it has been since 1971?
If the electorate is awake enough to pay some attention, McMorris Rodgers' sellout of the human values she wants us to believe she possesses, a sellout demonstrated by the legislation she crafted and the votes she cast, ought to cost her seat.
Get the word out.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. The Spokesman refers to the proposed Amendment to the first bill, H.R. 4670, as the "Democratic 'Dreamer's' Bill". It was not a bill, but a amendment put forward by Democrats to provide real relief for the Dreamers.