House GOP's latest excuse for opposing immigration reform? Some schools are closed.


They are against reform when schools are open too.

Congressional Republicans railed on Thursday against President Joe Biden's immigration reform proposal, which includes a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. Many framed their opposition around the fact that some schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House announced a comprehensive immigration proposal that would create an eight-year process for undocumented immigrants who arrived before the start of this year to become citizens. Farmworkers and dreamers (young undocumented people brought to the United States as children by their parents) would be eligible for faster. The plan would also crack down on smuggling and trafficking, reform processing for Central American refugees, and enhance border screening.

Republicans in Congress quickly dismissed this as a "nonstarter" and denounced it as "mass amnesty" during a pandemic.

But rather than focus on the merits, several attacked Biden for doing this while many public schools are currently closed for in-person learning.

"Democrats have a plan to open America's borders but not America's schools," tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. "Tells you everything you need to know."

Alabama Rep. Barry Moore retweeted that, adding, "Democrats' agenda: America LAST."

"Democrats want to open our borders, but not our schools," said Colorado Rep. Ken Buck. "They are putting illegal immigrants before our children."

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, in a statement shared from the House Judiciary Committee's GOP minority staff account, said the plan "puts our country's safety and economic interests last at a time when we should be focused on reopening our schools, getting Americans back to work, and defeating COVID-19."

There is little connection between the issue of school reopening and immigration reform, beyond the fact that this legislation would protect many undocumented kids who attend public schools — and their families — from deportation.

It is unlikely that these lawmakers would be backing the reform plan if schools were fully open. Their party platform explicitly opposes "any form of amnesty for those who, by breaking the law, have disadvantaged those who have obeyed it," while calling for the elimination of existing executive protections for Dreamers.

Contrary to these claims, Biden has laid out a plan to reopen schools for in-person learning with guidance to make it as safe as possible. As part of this, he has proposed a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief proposal — which would help vaccinate teachers and fund school safety efforts. Not one Republican in the House or Senate backed the budget resolution earlier this month that advanced that legislation.

Still, Republican lawmakers have repeatedly demanded that public schools immediately reopen fully, admitting that their goal is to make "a big deal" out of the issue in the hope that so doing will win them votes from suburban parents.

Polls show most Americans disagree with the GOP, preferring to wait until teachers have been inoculated before resuming in-person instruction.

Polling also shows that most Americans back a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. More than three-quarters of Americans support such a pathway for Dreamers.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.