The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Congress drops the ball on immigration

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 19. (Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post)

Regarding the Feb. 16 front-page article “Relief for ‘dreamers’ no nearer as bills fail”:

I worry that Congress will not pass legislation to protect the “dreamers.” When President Trump originally declined to endorse the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, leaving it to Congress to protect them, I was cynical enough to feel that he knew that Congress would not pass anything. Having earlier agreed to a bipartisan “deal,” he now sets out his “four pillars” — requirements for passage. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appears to have taken the unconscionable stand that he can’t pass anything that Mr. Trump won’t sign.

I say that Mr. McConnell should have the courage to pass something that Mr. Trump might veto. Such a veto would confer ownership of the issue to Mr. Trump. Failure to pass this legislation that has broad public support will turn out very badly for Republicans in the 2018 elections.

Please help these people who were brought to this country through no decision of their own and have become productive, taxpaying residents of our country. They deserve protection and a path to citizenship.

Thomas Wright, Bethesda

On Feb. 15, the Republican-controlled Senate failed to gain the 60 votes required to pass three proposals addressing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and border security. Predictably, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blamed Democrats.

The proposals by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and the “Common Sense Coalition” were nonpartisan. The proposal from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), however, was a blatantly and unabashedly partisan proposal supported by Mr. McConnell that mirrored White House wishes and had little or no hope of passing.

The McCain-Coons proposal failed 52 to 47, receiving just four Republican “yes” votes but only one Democratic “no” vote. The Common Sense Coalition proposal failed 54 to 45, supported by only eight Republicans but opposed by only three Democrats.

However, bipartisanship remained alive that day. The Grassley proposal suffered a dismal, 60-to-39 thrashing, lacking a hefty 21 votes to reach 60. Democrats and 14 Republicans opposed the proposal. Only three Democrats voted for it. Mr. McConnell and Mr. Grassley surely knew this proposal was dead on arrival.

In a nutshell, the bipartisan proposals suffered partisan defeats at the hands of Republicans, not Democrats. And the partisan proposal, properly in my view, received a resounding bipartisan whuppin’.

Wake up, President Trump and Mr. McConnell. Republicans, not Democrats, are the source of the Feb. 15 defeats. The majority of Americans want a sensible solution to DACA and border security. Do your jobs. Make it happen.

John Luchak, Burke

In his Feb. 14 op-ed, “Trump’s effort to keep America white,” Dana Milbank stated that the family-based approach to immigration “has always been at the heart of U.S. immigration.” In fact, this has been the case only since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. This law ended the national origins formula that had been in place in the United States for years and was enshrined in the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. Earlier, in 1875, the United States had restricted the immigration of forced labor from Asia and adopted the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

The 1965 law was intended to purge immigration law of its racist legacy, the exclusion of most immigrants from the “Asia Pacific Triangle.”

Nations in an area from Pakistan to the international date line and south to the equator had a quota of about 100 immigrants per annum. The 1965 law, which the current administration wants to amend, focused on family unification and attracting skilled labor. It is estimated that about two-thirds of legal immigrants to the United States come through the family-unification system.

Thomas Greene, Bethesda