Kevin McCarthy: GOP ‘Very Close’ to Immigration Deal

Associated Press

The GOP is close to drafting an immigration bill that “deals with the DACA situation,” GOP Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy told Fox News.

Interviewer Brian Kilmeade declined to press McCarthy on the controversial issue, even though cheap-labor immigration split the GOP in 2016 and elected Donald Trump to the White House. McCarthy said May 30:

We have been in the room, working together, conservatives, moderates, and others to be able to put an immigration plan together that protects our borders, secures our borders, ends catch-and-release, and deals with the DACA situation. I think we are very close to having an agreement that I think could go on to the floor, have the Republicans — and put the Democrats in a place to see if they are really serious about getting immigration reform.

McCarthy did not offer any details of the proposed deal, but did start his explanation by pointing viewers toward to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, by noting that the pending discharge petition “turns the floor over to Nancy Pelosi.”

McCarthy’s vague description of the proposed amnesty does not include three of President Donald Trump’s four pillars — a border wall, the wind-down of the chain-migration inflow and a quick end to the visa lottery.

“I think it’s time to get the whole package,” Trump told Fox News’ anchor Brian Kilmeade on May 24. “It’s not such a big deal, Brian. It’s time to get the whole package … We’re going to change the system — we have no choice for the good of our country.” Trump continued:

 Unless it includes a wall, and I mean a wall, a real wall, and unless it includes very strong border security, there’ll be no approvals from me because I have to either approve it or not …

A [visa] lottery is ridiculous, you know. I mean, they take people from the lottery where you can imagine these countries are not putting their finest in that lottery, so I don’t like the lottery. Chain migration is a disaster, and you look at what’s going on where somebody comes in who’s bad and yet they’ll have 24 members of a family, not one of them do you want in this country. So chain migration is terrible, lottery is terrible … [and] we have to get rid of catch and release.

McCarthy’s comment also ignored the compromise bill drafted by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House judiciary committee. That bill is backed by mainstream conservatives, including the House Freedom Caucus, but has been sidelined by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has long championed rules that help companies import more workers.

When Goodlatte was asked by Breitbart News for a comment about his role in the talks, he responded:

I have been and will continue working with leadership and our members to find a legislative solution to modernize America’s immigration system for the next generation and enact reforms that will make our nation strong.

However, McCarthy focused his comments on the group of almost 25 GOP members who are using the discharge-petition process to force an immigration vote.

The group has set a June 7 deadline for the leadership to develop an amnesty plan. If the leadership does not meet that deadline, the GOP group says they will ally with the Democrats to stage a June 25 floor debate that will likely pass a no-strings amnesty bill.

Ryan can easily block the discharge-petition vote by closing down the House on June 25, and also on June 23, which are the only days allowed for holding a discharge-petition vote.

McCarthy’s apparent zig-zag towards an amnesty, in cooperation with retiring Ryan, defies the shocking 2016 election results and threatens to spit the party again, say immigration-reform advocates. Rachel Bovard, a conservative organizer, and a former Hill staffer, writes in American Greatness:

Allowing this amnesty effort to move forward presents a real risk to the future of the party, and also to the House’s leadership. Mishandling of immigration policy has already played a role in bringing down one speaker. It has arguably tainted the legacies of senators and at least one Republican president. If amnesty passes the House next month, the repercussions will bang like a gong in the upcoming midterm elections and the race to replace Paul Ryan as speaker. But the action will resonate far beyond the four walls of the House Chamber, as yet another decades-long political promise is shredded by a Republican party already knee deep in broken commitments and diminished credibility.

In June 2014, Rep. Eric Cantor, McCarthy’s predecessor as Majority Leader, lost his seat because of his closed-door push for amnesty.

But McCarthy and Ryan may just be trying to engineer a pre-election Congressional deadlock to avoid retaliation either from voters who want higher wages and the business donors who want lower wages, said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies.

In recent weeks, more GOP business donors have declared they will close their checkbooks unless the GOP endorses another cheap-labor amnesty.

McCarthy’s statement “all seems like platitudes and keywords that he’s been instructed to include by his staff, or he thinks will placate people, without really offering any insight into what is possible or likely,” she said, adding:

He is either trying to be deliberately vague because he doesn’t want people to know what is being contemplated, or he is trying to offer the kind of chameleon-like terms that allow people to hear what they want to hear. That gives him maximum maneuvering room to push through what he wants … [The terms] are slippery enough that they can be used to describe anything — the [2013] Gang of Eight used these kinds of words to describe their preposterous bill. [Democratic Sen.] Dick Durbin [used the same terms] when he went to the White House with this ridiculous deal that they wanted Trump to sign off on.

“Securing the border” doesn’t mean anything  …. [in contrast to] specific commitments, such as building the wall, reducing legal immigration numbers, or increasing detention capacity.

In February, the GOP’s leader in the Senate. Sen. Mitch McConnell engineered a four-bill deadlock that allowed roughly 12 GOP Senators to vote for cheap-labor sought by donors and also for immigration improvements sought by voters. Since February, McConnell has resisted calls to schedule another immigration vote.

McCarthy’s phrase — “put the Democrats in a place to see if they are really serious about getting immigration reform” — suggests he wants to engineer a rejection vote which allows the GOP’s donors and populists to jointly blame Democrats for the defeat of immigration reform.

But a deadlock vote would also be a temporary win for the cheap-labor caucus, which has blocked Trump’s immigration reforms since his inauguration. The struggle between the cheap-labor business groups and the pro-employee immigration-reformers would restart in 2018, once each side had elected their favored legislators in November.

Yet the GOP leadership would gain by grasping the political nettle and declaring their support for pro-American immigration reform, Vaughan said, adding:

They would be much better off negotiating a limited deal that is more towards what Trump wants. Then they can say [to voters] “We’ve got what we could, even if the Senate does not move it, send us back [in November] and we can get more done.”

When are they going to learn this is a winning issue if they talk about it the right way?

Amnesty advocates rely on business-funded “Nation of Immigrants” push-polls to show apparent voter support for immigration and immigrants.

But “choice” polls reveal most voters’ often-ignored preference that CEOs should hire Americans at decent wages before hiring migrants. Those Americans include many blue-collar Blacks, Latinos, and people who hide their opinions from pollsters. Similarly, the 2018 polls show that GOP voters are far more concerned about migration — more properly, the economics of migration — than they are concerned about illegal migration and MS-13, taxes, or the return of Rep. Nancy Pelosi.



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