BROWNSVILLE — Sen. John Cornyn said Wednesday that Republicans have done their part to find a solution concerning the fate of 690,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. Democrats must vote on legislation or offer their own, he said.
Cornyn made his remarks during a conference call with reporters as lawmakers debated immigration amendments on the Senate floor.
“You wonder, do people actually want a solution, or do they just like the issue they can take on the next campaign?” he said.
Cornyn is a co-sponsor of the Secure and Succeed Act, which closely mirrors President Donald Trump’s call that a pathway to citizenship for certain undocumented immigrants be tied to border wall funding and tighter restrictions on legal immigration.
The Trump administration announced in September that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a Barack Obama-era policy that provides limited deportation relief and work authorization to certain undocumented immigrants. It expires March 5.
Cornyn called the president’s framework a “generous offer” and said Senate Republicans are waiting for Democrats to engage.
John-Michael Torres, spokesperson for La Union Del Pueblo Entero, said the organization is putting pressure on Cornyn to back less hard-line legislation.
“Cornyn is offering something that … even many Republicans rejected,” Torres said. “Really he’s playing politics instead of something that could actually get passed.”
Democrats rejected Republican efforts to start voting this week with an amendment that cracks down on so-called “sanctuary cities.”
The Trump administration has said that a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA-eligible immigrants nationwide must be accompanied by $25 million in border security infrastructure, an end to the diversity visa lottery and limits on who can come to the country via family sponsorship.
“Which is a really lopsided proposal when you consider they’re offering (citizenship) to less than a sixth of the country’s undocumented population,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
The institute estimates 182,000 people in Texas are eligible for DACA as of September 2017. Institute data also puts the number of undocumented Cameron County residents at 39,000 from 2010-2014.
Two U.S. district court judges have issued preliminary injunctions that temporarily halted the program’s termination, and forced United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to continue issuing DACA renewals.
“Those are very, very vulnerable injunctions and could be struck down at any point,” Pierce said.
Cornyn said he expects the Supreme Court to take up DACA.