What Politico assured us this weekend was going to be a tough government funding bill for Democrats, loaded-up with lots of disaster-response funding they would have a really hard time voting against, has proven anything but. What Republicans are presenting for a vote this week is instead so larded with white supremacist, anti-immigration fine print, it couldn’t tempt any Democrat, not even West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.
For example, it alters the asylum process so that Central American minors are ineligible for it if they come into the U.S.—they have to apply at to-be-established processing centers in Central America. It raises the bar for all asylum-seekers, not just Central American minors, by eliminating the procedural protections on asylum applications, making it much easier for the government to find applications “frivolous” and to make the consequences for filing a frivolous application more severe. It puts an annual cap of 15,000 on asylum grants, a cap that disregards the strength of applications.
“They’re trying to radically reshape asylum law,” Philip Wolgin, managing director for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent. Their claims that they’re extending protection to Dreamers and those with temporary protected status are bullshit. They screw them both by downsizing the number of people who would get the protections—from 1.8 million Dreamers to just 700,000. It gives three years of protection just to those already in the DACA program, not to all who are eligible for it, and those three years of protection cannot be renewed.
What was promising to be another McConnavellian bill to put the pain on Democrats by offering all sorts of sweeteners they would have a hard time voting against became a Stephen Miller special. McConnell is trying to spin Democrats’ refusal to fall for it as “throw[ing] federal workers, DACA recipients, customs and border patrol, and indeed all Americans, under the bus,” but that’s not going to fly.
This isn’t any kind of concession to Democrats, and the fact is that it was “negotiated” between Miller and Jared Kushner and Mike Pence. And in their feigned helplessness in the face of Trump’s mighty veto power, McConnell and his Republicans are going with it.
Meanwhile, House Democrats are going to continue voting to reopen government. McConnell, however, is still steadfastly refusing to release that hostage.