The GOP Immigration Bill Is Just Offensive Political Theater

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If Republicans wanted to stop Donald Trump from ripping children out of the hands of their parents at the border, they could do it by passing stand-alone legislation that addresses the issue, such as the bill that has already been introduced by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.


Instead, they’ve cursed us to watch their disingenuous political theater play out over a “compromise” immigration bill—which the president has already declared he will not sign—because none of them actually care about what happens to immigrant families.

The outline of the “more moderate” bill that was circulated on Thursday and that Trump has already written off takes a plainly hard-line stance on immigration. While there would be a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, it would include a point system based on qualifications like education levels, employment, and English-language proficiency. And while the bill also addresses family separation, the result would basically be to allow Trump to detain families, all together: Call it a lighter shade of inhumanity.

In exchange, the legislation would eliminate the diversity visa lottery program and toughen rules on asylum seekers. Trump would also get $25 billion for his border wall with the notable provision that DACA visas would be canceled if the funding was rescinded. Incredibly, it is in the bill’s text that the GOP can hold DACA recipients hostage in exchange for their extreme conservative immigration measures.

The only reason that this hellish bill—which Paul Ryan knows full well is unlikely to pass—exists in the first place is because Ryan wanted to quash a rebellion by moderates within his own party to force a vote on bipartisan immigration bills. Ryan knows the bill is a non-starter for most Democrats and is using the vote as a way to make them look like they don’t want DACA protections, or to stop family separation.

Both Paul Ryan and Donald Trump have claimed they don’t like what’s happening to children at the border, which might be a reasonable thing to say, if they and their enabling party weren’t entirely responsible for what’s happening right now. Paul Ryan shouldn’t get to tell reporters that he cares about family separation, and we shouldn’t pretend that this GOP bill is anything but an offensive, theatrical, and poorly executed sham.

Clio Chang is a staff writer at Splinter.