Happy Birthday W. Virginia! While we are at it: The Subject of Immigration

Good Morning, It’s Wednesday June 20th, 2018

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Want to go to a party…. well: The state of West Virginia is celebrating its birthday today on Capitol Hill with food, beverages and promotional spin galore. Akin to the state motto: Wild, Wonderful, and welcoming … Dirksen Senate Office Building, 5:30 p.m., room G-50.

There has been a stampede over the last 24 hours of GOP lawmakers desperate to end the public relations and political crisis thrust on them by President Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border.

Trump trekked to Capitol Hill last night to visit with House Republicans about immigration, but the key to ending the crisis may lie in the Senate.

So here is what is going on…..

Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says the GOP majority is committed to ending the family separation crisis at the border, which has ignited fierce protests and galvanized Republicans and Democrats in opposition.

“I support, and all of the senators of the Republican conference support, a plan that keeps families together.” – McConnell.

The path to accomplishing this will be tricky.

For instance, Senate Democrats rightly note that the Trump administration could end its recently enacted “zero tolerance” policy today, if the president were to instruct Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do so.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has a good relationship with the president, sent him a letter signed by 11 other GOP senators pleading for a temporary halt to the policy.

“It’s not American to do this.” – Hatch.

But Trump is digging in, blaming Democrats, “loopholes” in the law and the media and demanding that Congress fix the problem.

Under current law, we have only two policy options to respond to this massive crisis…Totally open borders or criminal prosecution for law breaking…So what I’m asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year — the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit.  We have to be able to do this. This is the only solution to the border crisis.” – Trump

Immigration has been an intractable issue on Capitol Hill for a decade, so including a fix on family separations in a broad immigration reform package – like those that will be considered in the House on Thursday – seems hopeless.

That leaves a potential opening for a narrow bill aimed specifically at expediting the processing of those who have been arrested trying to cross into the country illegally and allowing those with children to stay with those kids over the course of that process.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has released a bill to this effect, and other Republicans appear to be open to it.

Takeaway: Republicans are not happy about being dealt this crisis during an election year in which they’re desperately seeking to hold on to their majority in the House. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) just beat back a revolt among his caucus on immigration, which produced two bills pertaining to the plight of “Dreamers” that could see a vote this Thursday. Neither is likely to become law and both are unlikely to even pass the House. That means the GOP needs to come up with a specific fix to address the family separations issue – and they need to do it fast, so the party can move on.

More on the Subject

The Memo: Religious right hits Trump on border crisis.

Reuters exclusive interview: Pope Francis is critical of Trump administration policy on migrant family separation. “It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution,” he says.

NBC News: The price tag associated with federal “tent cities” to detain divided migrant families under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy is higher than costs in previous administrations, according to government data.

The Washington Post: Trump didn’t invent family separation but his administration was willing to try it.

The Associated Press: Youngest migrants held in “tender age” shelters. No clear plan yet on how to reunite children with parents.

Special thanks to The Hill….

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