(NewsNation) — A last-ditch bipartisan measure to overhaul the U.S. immigration system before the end of the year hasn’t moved in Congress, and Sen. Joe Manchin told NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo the legislation is “not even on the table.”
Introduced last month by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., the bill would grant a path to citizenship to about 2 million undocumented immigrants, speed up elements of the asylum process and devote more money to border security.
With it being a compromise plan, some criticism of it has come from both immigration supporters who believe it doesn’t provide enough relief and from those who worry about providing amnesty to more undocumented immigrants.
Immigration advocates have been hankering for news of any sort of deal to protect Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors — since the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program unlawful in October.
“Not going to happen. It’s not even on the table,” Manchin said on NewsNation’s “CUOMO” of the chances for the legislation passing. “Unless you’re talking seriously about securing the border, you’re not going to have serious talks about immigration reform. We have stop the insanity that is going on at the border. This is wrong.”
Immigration reform has taken center stage before Congress leaves for the holidays, with the pandemic-era Title 42 policy set to expire. States sued to keep the immigration restrictions in place, and on Monday Supreme Court Justice John Roberts issued a stay ahead of a Wednesday expiration date.
The Justice Department on Tuesday argued the policy should be allowed to end, but asked for an extension through at least Dec. 27 to allow the administration more time to prepare.
“Although the end of the Title 42 orders likely will likely lead to a temporary increase in border crossings, the government is prepared to address that serious problem under its Title 8 authorities, including by adopting new policies to respond to the temporary disruption that will occur whenever the Title 42 orders end,” the Justice Department wrote in its brief to the Supreme Court.
Republicans have called for the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has previously testified to Congress that the border is secure.
Manchin said Mayorkas is a “good guy” who needs support to do his job.
“What needs to be done right now, is the administration needs to take executive actions,” Manchin said. “I’m praying to God that they’re working on a plan that should work.”
Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, has spent much of Biden’s first two years trying to push an “energy independence” agenda that most notably included permitting reform. His demands derailed Biden’s initial $2 trillion social and climate spending plan.
But it was revived when Manchin said he reached a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on permitting reform in exchange for support of the Inflation Reduction Act, which devotes $391 billion to clean energy and climate initiatives.
“I would have not engaged in any way, shape or form unless I knew that we could have energy independence in the United States of America,” Manchin said. “We need a robust fossil energy segment that gives us basically us the horsepower to run our country and gives us the independence we have to have to be the superpower of the world.”
Manchin’s bill, which has yet to get a vote in the Senate, would speed up the approval process for energy projects and direct the approval of a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia. He criticized Republicans for blocking it from the annual defense funding bill, saying they put politics ahead of country.