Republican leaders and immigration experts reacted with dismay Wednesday to House Democrats' Tuesday-night passage of an amnesty for some 2.5 million people in the country illegally.
The bill, the American Dream and Promise Act, passed the House of Representatives on a near-party-line vote. If signed into law, the bill would grant a reprieve from deportation and path to residency and eventually citizenship to beneficiaries of the DACA, TPS, and DED programs.
In total, some 2.5 million people would be protected, according to an estimate from progressive think tank Center for American Progress.
Although it passed the Democrat-controlled House, the bill is unlikely to come up for a hearing in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) indicated Wednesday that any amnesty deal would need to come with substantive fixes to border security.
"I think there is a perfectly legitimate case for the DREAMERS," McConnell told radio host Guy Benson Wednesday. "These—for your listeners—are the kids who were brought here by their parents, who've been raised as Americans, and deserve to be Americans at some point. But I think we need to do more than just that. And that's the context in which I would deal with that issue in the Senate."
Pivotally, the ADPA does little to address either long-term or short-term immigration challenges. It leaves out entirely any reference to the ongoing border crisis, which has seen mass illegal immigration, mostly by children and families. The day after the bill's passage, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it had apprehended nearly 150,000 people at the southwestern border in May alone, putting the nation on track for more than one million apprehensions by the end of the fiscal year in September.
"In the midst of an escalating humanitarian crisis at our southern border, House Democrats decided today to pass a bill that would exacerbate the already broken immigration system," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said. "Just last week, 1,036 illegal immigrants were apprehended at the border in just one encounter, and today the Democrats' solution is to offer amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants."
Democrats in fact opted to block an amendment offered by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R., Ariz.), which would have appended as an amendment to the ADPA a bill authored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.) to authorize $4.5 million in crisis reduction funding.
"The legislation does nothing to solve the crisis at the border, expands amnesty to millions more than current DACA recipients, puts illegal immigrants in line for citizenship ahead of those that have waited years to enter legally and will make our border crisis worse by incentivizing more illegal immigrants to enter our country," Lesko said in a statement. "Democrats are willing to spend 35 billion dollars on amnesty but not one penny towards helping secure our border."
Conservative immigration experts also derided the bill. James Carafano, vice president of the Heritage Foundation's Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, said that the bill "break[s] trust with America."
"The United States is facing an undeniable humanitarian and security crisis at our border, but the Left's response is H.R. 6, an unserious, mass-amnesty proposal which would only exacerbate the crisis at the border and bring enforcement to a breaking point," Carafano said. "Congress must get serious about securing the border, reforming a broken asylum system, and improving internal enforcement of immigration laws."
The bill will have "political consequences" for Democrats in November, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies Mark Krikorian told the Free Beacon.
"The May border numbers show a 50-fold increase over May 2017 in the apprehensions of family units claiming asylum. Very few will get asylum, but almost none will ever be sent home," Krikorian said. "In the midst of this border disaster, which cries out for congressional action to plug the legal loopholes that are attracting people, the Democratic House passes the largest amnesty bill in American history, without even fig-leaf enforcement measures."