EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., is urging his Republican colleagues to “do everything we can” to stop Democrats from passing amnesty for illegal immigrants — after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said their “ultimate goal” is to give citizenship pathways to at least 11 million illegal immigrants.
“Democrats were afraid to push amnesty ahead of the midterms because it’s wildly unpopular,” Banks, the head of the Republican Study Committee, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “But they calculated that amnesty will be old news by 2024, and they’re counting on the millions of new voters to return their favor.”
With Republicans set to control the House in the next Congress, which begins in January, Democrats and immigration activists are attempting to make one last push for citizenship for illegal immigrants before they lose control of the chamber.
Democrats held a press conference on Tuesday which called for a pathway to citizenship for recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasized that Democrats’ ultimate goal is to amnesty all those in the country illegally.
“Now more than ever, we’re short of workers, we have a population that is not reproducing on its own with the same level that it used to,” Schumer said.
“The only way we’re going to have a great future in America is if we welcome and embrace immigrants, the DREAMers and – all of them. Because our ultimate goal is to help the DREAMers, but get a path to citizenship for all 11 million, or however many undocumented immigrants.”
Schumer’s comments echo calls by many Democrats, as well as top members of the Biden administration who have pushed for a mass amnesty, even amid a raging crisis at the southern border that saw more than 230,000 migrant encounters in October alone.
Both the administration and congressional Democrats made multiple attempts to pass citizenship pathways for illegal immigrants, including the introduction of a sweeping immigration reform bill in early 2021, and attempts to pass it through via a budget reconciliation move to avoid a Republican filibuster, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
While an amnesty for all those in the country illegally is unlikely to get any Republican support in either chamber, immigration hawks have repeatedly expressed concern that a smaller amnesty — such as for those who may be eligible for DACA — could drum up enough Republican support to get through the Senate, particularly if accompanied by some border security measures.
The efforts to pass a pathway to citizenship for those eligible for DACA got a renewed push last month after a federal appeals court determined that the Obama administration did not have the authority to institute the controversial program back in 2012. The decision prevents any more enrollments in the program, but does not affect any of the approximately 700,000 current enrollees.
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., had said the ruling “further underscores the need for Republicans to work with Democrats to swiftly take up and pass legislation” to grant “permanent protections” for DACA recipients.
In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted that Democrats have passed legislation to offer illegal immigrants, including DACA recipients, a pathway to citizenship, and called on Senate Republicans to do the same.
“Senate Republicans must join us to immediately pass this urgent, necessary, House-passed legislation and send it straight to President Biden’s desk,” she said.
Banks, however, warns that Republicans must adhere to their prior promises to oppose such measures that they made during the midterm campaign.
“Republicans need to keep our promises and do everything we can to block amnesty,” Banks said.
Fox News’ Gabriel Hays contributed to this report.