·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

McConnell to Play Background Role in Debate on Dreamers, Chain Migration

— February 13, 2018

Beginning today, the Senate is set to sort out the year’s most contentious issues to date, deciding the plight of Dreamers, undocumented immigrants, and aspiring arrivals all alike.

According to, the path ahead is far from clear. While leading politicians have promised a resolution in the coming days, neither Left nor Right have come to a head and found common ground. Bills have come and gone, with one bipartisan group of legislators trying their best to appease Commander-in-Chief Trump and common sense.

But strangely absent from the frontlines, Politico writes, is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Usually cautious and close to calculating, McConnell has taken the leap of promising a free-for-all debate on the most pressing immigration issues of the day.

Dreamers, DACA, Temporary Protection Status migrants, chain migration, and a Great Wall – all demands that fit into the priorities of different parties and political agendas, and all of which need to be resolved to reach a common consensus.

Even McConnell’s inner circle seem uncertain as to whether the high-ranking Republican would support a deal capable of clinching the 60 votes needed to pass through the chamber.

“He’s trying to be an honest broker in this and just make sure that he treats people fairly. I’m sure he has his preferences. I’ve never heard him express them, exactly,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD). “I’m not aware of any bill that he really likes.”

“Mitch,” said another conservative senator, “is ambivalent.”

McConnell, Politico claims, had aligned himself with a prospective piece of legislation earlier in the year. The top Republican had supported granting amnesty to Dreamers in exchange for a massive boost in border security and interior enforcement. Along with Trump, the senator also aspired to limit a phenomenon known as “chain migration” to spouses and minor children.

“The leader said no bounds whatsoever,” said Sen Thom Tillis (R-NC). “This is clearly a case where he’s saying, ‘You all craft a solution that we can get out of the Senate, we have a high expectation that it will be received well by the House, and that is consistent with the president’s view.’”

Paying heed to President Trump’s aspirations may prove the most difficult challenge.

Among his laundry list of demands is billions of dollars in funding for an improved barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as severe limitations on legal migration.

While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has shown a willingness to offer concessions, many other congressional Democrats have been less keen to negotiate. Many consider trading the futures of undocumented youths and Dreamers for tight immigration regulations a form of political blackmail, refusing to play ball until the wall is off the table.

Politico’s attempts to get into McConnell’s head through interviews were in vain – the best Republicans could offer were approximations on the Senate Majority Leader’s goals.

But Sen. Rand Paul proposed an unorthodox and surprisingly sensible solution, noting that DACA simply isn’t a massively political issue in both men’s home state of Kentucky.

“It really doesn’t register with most people,” he said.


McConnell’s immigration gamble

McConnell will allow immigration vote if senators strike a deal

Join the conversation!