On All Levels, Republicans Continue To Deny Immigration Solutions
Immigration was once again a hot-button topic in tonight’s debate. The GOP candidates’ rhetoric underscores their party’s outright refusal to work towards any solutions for immigration reform. Republicans—ranging from presidential candidates like Donald Trump, who in tonight’s debate said we need to “send people out;” to newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan, who refuses to bring any immigration bills to the House floor; to Republicans at the state level who have worked to push lawsuits blocking President Obama’s DACA and DAPA programs—prefer to score cheap political points instead of pursuing smart policy options that work for immigrants and native-born alike.
Tonight’s GOP debate contained more of the same vitriol toward immigrants. Leading the charge was Donald Trump, who believes the answer to immigration reform is to “have a wall” and deport every unauthorized immigrant, ignoring the fact that this mass deportation would cost a whopping $114 billion. Economists have estimated that the mass deportation of unauthorized immigrants could reduce the U.S. gross domestic product by 5.7 percent over 20 years—sucking $1.6 trillion out of the economy.
Meanwhile, Senator Rubio said he wants to “expand” the American Dream and “change more lives than ever.” But in reality, Rubio has completely flip-flopped on his immigration policy. Not only did he abandon his comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate, Rubio now wants to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA is the only protection that some undocumented immigrants have — it has granted temporary deportation relief and work authorization to as many as 681,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. Ending DACA means that up to 27,225 Dreamers in Rubio’s home state of Florida alone could lose their protection from deportation.
Former Governor Jeb Bush joined the fray, stating that unauthorized immigrants need “a proper path.” Though his rhetoric may be nice, in reality Bush is another anti-immigrant GOP candidate who uses hateful terms like “anchor-baby” and has made his opposition to a pathway to citizenship clear.
The refusal to act extends beyond the GOP presidential candidates. In Congress, the newly-minted Speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, has already announced he refuses to do anything about comprehensive immigration reform. According to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Ryan said there is “no way” a comprehensive immigration reform bill would be brought to the House floor, let alone be supported by Ryan and the rest of the GOP. We have also seen conservatives at the state level get in the way of progress on immigration. Conservative lawmakers in 26 states filed lawsuits against President Obama’s DACA and DAPA, leading former President George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to issue an injunction to block the directives from taking effect. This conservative-led legal battle resulted in yesterday’s 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold that ruling to block DACA and DAPA, even though these programs will bring temporary deportation relief to 5 million people and will grow the U.S. economy cumulatively by $230 billion over 10 years.
As Republicans across the country try to one-up each other by increasing their anti-immigrant rhetoric, 11.3 million undocumented immigrants still lack any clear pathway to citizenship. They help grow our economy, pay taxes, and contribute to Social Security, while receiving little in return. The facts are clear that comprehensive immigration reform and programs like DACA and DAPA are good for our economy and our country. And yet, Republicans stubbornly and blatantly refuse to act, instead doing all they can to thwart any progress on reforms.
BOTTOM LINE: We need real solutions to our outdated immigration system. Instead we have Congress, led by a Speaker who refuses to act; conservative state lawmakers filing a lawsuit to undo President Obama’s work; and presidential candidates who want to deport parents of US citizens and block sensible measures that would grow the US economy.
The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.