Sen. Joe Manchin became the first prominent Democrat to label the situation on the Southwest border a “crisis,” in an interview with CNN this week, in a major break with the rest of the party.
Manchin, D-W.Va., told CNN on Monday evening that the border is in “crisis,” and said he is waiting to be briefed by President Joe Biden’s administration before he comments on their response to the situation.
"Whatever message was sent — it was sure interpreted the wrong way," Manchin said. "It's a crisis — oh it's a crisis."
The Biden administration announced its immigration bill last month, which White House officials described as an opportunity to “reset and restart conversations on immigration reform,” and said that the legislation is the president’s “vision of what it takes to fix the system.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told CNN that there’s not enough support in Congress for a full immigration plan that includes the pathway to citizenship that Biden promised for about 11 million illegal immigrants.
"I don't see a means for reaching that," Durbin said, when asked about the pathway. "I want it. I think we are much more likely to deal with discrete elements."
He added that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "has discovered that she doesn't have support for the comprehensive bill in the House. And it indicates where it is in the Senate as well."
Durbin said that once the House passes the two pieces of legislation that deal with some specific immigration policies, including a pathway to citizenship for the group known as "Dreamers" — immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children by their parents — he will "have to sit down with my colleagues to see if there's any bipartisan consensus to move those two as starting points."
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in remarks to reporters on Monday that he’s "on record saying I'd like to find a permanent solution to the DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipients. The problem is every time we try to meet the Democrats halfway, they move the goalposts."
He went on to note the situation at the border, saying, "Unless there is some way to bring some control and order to that situation, I think it makes it very hard to do other things on a bipartisan basis. That's one of the casualties of the failure to think ahead of time. If you're going to reverse Trump policies, what's your plan? Well, they didn't have a plan. Other than to say, 'don't come now' when all the other signals are, you know, 'come on in. If you can get here, you're going to stay."
Cornyn concluded, “it’s a huge problem.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN that the Senate won’t pass a bipartisan immigration bill with the situation at the border in its current state.
"We're not going to do a comprehensive immigration bill," he said. "I just don't see the politics of it. It's too out of control."
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