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Immigration policy in the United States has descended even further into chaos in the past few days.
Near the Mexican border this weekend, federal immigration enforcers started rounding up thousands of Haitian migrants trying to enter the country. Observers call it one of the swiftest and most aggressive deportation campaigns in recent decades.
A group of 26 governors, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, on Monday sent a letter requesting a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss border security.
Back in Washington, D.C., the Senate parliamentarian issued a ruling to say immigration reform can’t be included in Democrats’ proposed spending bill, dashing Democrats’ hopes to advance amnesty with a simple majority vote in the Senate.
It’s not appropriate to pass the measure through reconciliation in part because it is a “tremendous and enduring policy change” that a future Congress would be able to repeal on a simple majority vote through the same method. Previous immigration measures passed through reconciliation, the parliamentarian noted, “had broad bipartisan support which made inclusion in reconciliation less fraught.”
Meanwhile, immigration legislation with broad bipartisan support sits idle in Congress.
A bipartisan group of senators last week introduced the America’s Children Act, which would offer a path to citizenship for “documented Dreamers” — young adults who were brought to the country legally as children but are aging out of the family-based system. It’s a companion to a bill introduced in the House in July.
Studying the bill and its supporters, it’s clear this is a good idea that could pass if it’s put up for a vote. If it doesn’t, it will be because Congress is dysfunctional, not because there is a serious debate about the merits of the policy.
Documented Dreamers are some 200,000 children of visa holders, often educated and skilled people who came to the United States to work or study. They are not included in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which only applies to children of undocumented immigrants.
The documented Dreamers are covered by their parents’ legal status until age 21 and then have three choices — leave the only country they have ever known, stay in the United States illegally or seek their own visas. Visas, though, are governed by a complicated web of nonsensical regulations. Even those who qualify sometimes have to win a lottery to earn authorization.
Plainly, the immigration system is turning away people who want to live here and stand to make great contributions to our country.
Iowa Republican U.S. Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson are co-sponsors of the House version of the bill. U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have not taken a position on the America’s Children Act, but they have previously said they support legal protection for undocumented Dreamers.
Republican sponsors of the new Senate bill are Rand Paul, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, and Susan Collins, one of Trump’s few detractors in the GOP.
Between the two chambers, the bill has 13 Democrats and eight Republicans as co-sponsors. It’s backed by immigration advocates aligned with Democrats and by the influential Americans for Prosperity, which usually supports Republican causes.
Narrowly focused as it may be, it’s a smart bill with backing from both parties. If Congress is serious about bipartisan immigration reform, the America’s Children Act would be a good place to start.
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