WASHINGTON -- House Democrats delivered a full-throated condemnation of the revamped GOP border bill on Friday, calling the bill "mean-spirited" and stressing its purely political purposes.
Flanked by Congressional Hispanic Caucus members and Democratic leaders, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Republicans of creating further polarization on the issue of immigration reform rather than looking for compromise.
"Instead of responding to the concerns and objections, Republicans have moved more to the right," she said at a press conference. "Not to the correct, but to the right."
Many of the members seemed most critical of the provisions to take away the right of due process for unaccompanied minors and to end President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows undocumented young people who came to the U.S. years ago to stay. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) called the push to end DACA "mean-spirited," and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) deemed the revamped provisions in the new bill "some of the harshest, most draconian policies they could think of."
"It is unfortunate that Republicans are playing partisan games with a bill that has no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law," Hoyer said. "In other words, it is simply a message they want to send, not a solution they want to effect."
The Democrats hinted that immigration would continue to be a key political issue dividing the two parties. During the press conference, they reiterated their support for comprehensive immigration reform and went after Republicans for alienating Hispanic voters. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) accused Republicans of "destroying diversity in this country" and making the unaccompanied minors "victims of politics."
Passing the GOP border bill could hurt Republicans' chances of making inroads with Latino voters in the midterm elections and in 2016 -- a point Democrats will likely seize on.
"We're looking at possibly one of the most anti-Hispanic Congresses in generations," Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) said.
Perhaps angriest of all was Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who represents two of Chicago's biggest Latino neighborhoods. He fumed as he decried what he called the Republicans' "hatefulness toward an immigrant community" and noted that Republicans, who made Hispanic outreach a priority after their electoral defeat in 2012, have forgotten those they once deemed a priority.
"It is as though they have amnesia and have forgotten and abandoned that road. They have taken the road of those who are filled with spitefulness and hatred toward our community," he said, with his voice rising. "We will soon cure them of that amnesia, come this election and every election moving forward."
The members blasted the hypocrisy of Republicans voting to sue Obama on Wednesday and then calling on Thursday for the president to use his executive authority to resolve the border crisis.
"It's never a good idea and a good solution to sue the president of the United States for doing his job, when you're not willing to do your job here in the House of Representatives," Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said.
"It's the classic case of wanting to have it both ways. Which is it?" asked Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.).
Costa, called the bill a "fig leaf," saying that it was "cynical" for the House GOP to vote on a bill that will not pass the Senate and will, therefore, not become law.
Lujan pointed a finger at the efforts of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in torpedoing the House bill Thursday. Some House Republicans said Cruz talked them into not voting for the bill. Because the bill lacked the votes need to pass, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled it from consideration Thursday.
Garcia said he was "appalled" by Cruz's actions in jeopardizing the vote, laying into the fact that Cruz himself is an immigrant.
"As a Cuban-American realizes that I have special immigratory rights, I am appalled that Senator Cruz, who not only received it from this country but from his native Canada, those special migratory rights, leads the charge to strip away people's rights. It's absolutely unconscionable."
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