‘Tis the season for legislative mischief.
After both parties received, at best, C-minus grades from voters in the midterm elections, a lame-duck Congress will reconvene next week to take care of unfinished business. By far, the most important matter for Congress to address is funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year — a formidable task in itself. But it will be hard to resist the temptation to sneak in legislation on a few unpopular pet issues now that members are no longer accountable to voters.
Among the issues Democrats are itching to take up while they still have control of both chambers is a large amnesty for illegal aliens that is being intentionally disguised as a narrow proposal. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who now seems likely to be the ranking minority member in the 118th Congress, has confirmed that his committee is working on a “DACA fix,” which he and fellow Democrats will try to append to an omnibus spending package.
DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by nothing more than a memo by President Barack Obama in 2012, may well be struck down by the Supreme Court next year as unconstitutional executive overreach. Mr. Nadler’s plan is not only to codify DACA, which has about 600,000 enrollees, but also to extend that amnesty to an estimated 4.4 million illegal aliens. In other words, what is being sold as a small fix, would actually become the largest amnesty in history — far exceeding the number of people who were legalized as a result of legislation passed in 1986.
Granting amnesty to illegal aliens seems to be a perennial priority for Democrats on Capitol Hill. For the American public, however, not so much. According to exit polling conducted by Zogby Analytics nationally and in key battleground states, granting amnesty to illegal aliens is actually dead last on their list of priorities. Nationally, only 8.8% of voters said that “granting legal status to people who are in the country illegally” should be at the top of Congress’ to-do list on immigration policy.
Amid an unprecedented border crisis, half of voters (49.8%), said “securing the border and stopping illegal immigration” is the most important matter Congress should address. Adding in the 12.3% of voters who said that “finding and removing illegal immigrants who are already in the country” is the most important priority, a decisive 62% of the electorate believes that the focus needs to be on enforcing our immigration laws, not rewarding those who have already violated them.
The constituency for granting amnesty to illegal aliens is very small. While it is often portrayed (mostly by self-anointed ethnic spokespeople) as a priority for Hispanic Americans, national exit polling reveals that the opposite is true. One-third (32.7%) of Hispanic voters listed border security as their leading immigration concern, with another 16.7% prioritizing removal of illegal aliens already here. Only 17.7% of this large and influential demographic placed a premium on legalizing illegal aliens. Likewise, other minority groups including Asian American and African American voters are far more inclined to support immigration enforcement over massive amnesties.
If Republicans, who failed to wow voters nationally, need a further reminder, polling shows clearly that standing on the side of Americans who are being harmed by the Biden administration’s open borders policies is not only the right thing to do but also politically popular. To understand this they need only look to places where they scored their biggest successes. While voters responded to the GOP with a resounding “meh” nationally, the two biggest bright spots for Republicans were in Texas and Florida, where Republican Govs. Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis scored impressive reelection victories last week.
Both Mr. Abbott and Mr. DeSantis have been at the vanguard of the resistance to the Biden administration’s campaign to eradicate borders and eviscerate interior immigration enforcement. With limited resources and without any real authority to enforce federal immigration laws, these two governors exercised what limited power they have to protect the interests of their constituents. They did so by exposing the hypocrisy of so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that cheer on open borders policies until illegal migrants start winding up in their communities.
Amid the cacophony of mixed messages sent by voters in the midterms, there was one message that came through loud and clear. By large majorities, voters want the border secured and are in no mood for massive illegal alien amnesties. Republicans, who will control the House, and along with it, the federal purse strings next year, actually do have the mandate to resist the Democrats’ legislative lame-duck mischief and focus on the American public’s immigration priorities next year.
• Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).