Democrats should not hope that Republicans will agree to a "grand bargain" on immigration, where they can trade border security money for amnesty, according to a Republican who pointed out that it didn't work for Ronald Reagan in 1986.
Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) warned policymakers Friday at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual conference that they should not participate in any such agreement because it will only lead to more illegal immigration.
“It's incumbent upon us as a Congress to make sure that this grand bargain is not — this deal is not worked out,” Babin said. "In the opinion of the majority of our Republican conference, I can tell you that we want to see a secure border before we get into any kind of major immigration reform."
In 1986, Reagan granted amnesty to three million illegal immigrants. Now, there are an estimated 11 million more illegal immigrants in the U.S., and some experts say that number is way too low.
"We have decades and decades of experience to show that all this does if you grant amnesty you just incentivize more and more and more to simply come in, and we cannot allow this to continue on because the green light, the flashing welcome sign, welcome mat has got to be turned off," Babin said.
So far, Republicans have not passed any immigration legislation despite House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) saying that immigration and the border were the top priority of the new GOP House majority.
This is because Republicans are now arguing among themselves about what should be in the legislation and which proposal to follow.
Leadership supports Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)'s Border Safety and Security Act of 2023 (HR 29), which he reintroduced after Republicans took the majority, but centrist Republicans like Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) don't like the fact that the legislation does not provide for legal asylum claims.
Gonzales called HR 29 "all hat and no cattle" in February, triggering a disagreement about whether to support it. It is not known how many Republicans would vote against the legislation, but if even a few defect, it will not pass because of the razor-thin GOP majority.
Some in the GOP still hold out hope that Republicans and Democrats can work together on a bipartisan solution, however.
Previous Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott said at the conference that "there are rational people on both sides of the aisle that understand that if they can get together and push something forward, there could potentially be some change."
But even he was skeptical that it would actually happen.
"Do I believe it's really going to happen?" the TPPF Distinguished Senior Fellow for Border Security asked rhetorically during an interview. "If I was a betting man, I don't think we're going to see any real significant change for another two years because the ideologues, if you will, in the current administration, just refuse to accept the facts of reality and they won't even talk about how chaotic the border is."
These days, one never knows what will happen in American politics, but it seems likely that we will be dealing with the status quo for the next two years at least.