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Republicans turn Senate immigration debate into 2018 campaign rally

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23:  U.S. President Donald Trump (R) hosts a reception for House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC.  Attending were Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (L) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

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The promise of an open-ended, freewheeling immigration debate that would create a path to citizenship for Dreamers, the promise Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave to Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to end last month’s government shutdown, is proving to be worth about as much as a promise from McConnell. This isn’t about the young lives at stake, it’s all about the 2018 midterms and keeping the shrinking Republican base together for at least one more go.

That was apparently Tuesday when the opening gambit in the amendment process from Republicans was to defund sanctuary cities, those cities that don’t turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. Sanctuary cities are a big campaign issue for Republicans—a losing one so far, in New Jersey and Virginia—but aren’t a part of any other immigration discussion.

Schumer objected and tried to get a vote on Trump’s immigration plan, which also won’t get 60 votes. McConnell objected and another day was shot. Remember, McConnell’s already said that they have to wrap this up by Thursday afternoon—not the weeks and weeks, and then two weeks, that he originally promised and says he supports Trump’s plan, putting his thumb on that scale.

Meanwhile, Trump has threatened to veto any bill that doesn’t include his white supremacist “four pillars” and has issued a statement, via email, telling senators he wants his wish list and will oppose any short-term fixes.

I want to thank Chairman Grassley for introducing legislation based on the White House Immigration Reform and Border Security Framework. The Grassley bill accomplishes the four pillars of the White House Framework: a lasting solution on DACA, ending chain migration, cancelling the visa lottery, and securing the border through building the wall and closing legal loopholes. I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars—that includes opposing any short-term “Band-Aid” approach. The overwhelming majority of American voters support a plan that fulfills the Framework’s four pillars, which move us towards the safe, modern, and lawful immigration system our people deserve.

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