On Monday, U.S. Senator Joe Machin offered his support for a White House-sponsored immigration plan.
The West Virginia Democrat’s surprising announcement came with heavy criticism for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who’d damned the plan as yet another way to “make America white again.”
“We don’t need that type of rhetoric from either side, from Nancy, Paul Ryan, or anybody else,” said Manchin, a leader in bipartisan talks on immigration. His comments, writes Reuters, exemplify the differences dividing Democrats, many of whom have different visions for the future of Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Rescinded by President Trump in September, DACA provided shelter to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who had arrived illegally to the United States as minors. In exchange for obtaining a certain level of education and passing a criminal background check, federal officials signed off on temporary, renewable work and residency permits.
While the program’s former beneficiaries – known popularly as ‘Dreamers’ – had always garnered the criticism of hardline conservatives, they were seen with a certain degree of sympathy by many moderate Republicans.
Trump purportedly strived to make a deal in favor of Dreamers, offering a permanent stay for deportation in exchange for a mild uptick in border security funding.
Yet hardly a month later, the commander-in-chief reneged, demanding billions of dollars for a border wall and the hiring of scores of Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff. Most recently, in January, the president promised amnesty for Dreamers if Democrats would provide at least several billion dollars for his controversial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as an end to certain forms of legal migration.
On top of amnesty for Dreamers, the president’s pitch would provide residency and a path to citizenship for about one million other immigrants – individuals who would have qualified for DACA but failed to apply before its termination.
However, the deal was quickly dismissed by leading Democrats, who claim the administration is using the future of Dreamers as a sort of emotional blackmail. Pelosi said it held them “hostage to a hateful anti-immigration scheme,” later accusing Trump and his cohorts of running a campaign to “make American white again.”
But Manchin, speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, said he felt the plan was a good “starting point.”
Along with Manchin, Republican Sen. Susan Collins is another leader in the bipartisan talks. She and Manchin are hoping to influence a plan being put together by the chamber’s two political whips, Republican John Cornyn and Democrat Dick Durbin.
“If (Cornyn and Durbin) agree, I have a feeling that that will be a bill that can go all the way to the president’s desk, and that’s our goal,” said Collins.