Hill Democrats may be fine with that. Even immigration reform advocates say they’d understand.
When President Joe Biden unveiled an immigration bill on the first day in office, he sent a signal to advocates, the Democratic base, and Congress that the issue was a top priority for him.
But even as the president and Democrats on the Hill begin the heavy lift of turning a priority into law, the White House is weighing taking a secondary path: doing it piece by piece.
Multiple sources close to the administration said they expect the White House will let Congress take the lead on forging reform — even though Biden introduced his own bill. The White House will provide guidance. And, indeed, chief of staff Ron Klain and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan are said to be hands-on and “feel a responsibility and an ownership” over the immigration push already, according to one of the sources close to the White House.
But the main objective is progress. And if that means moving components of reform through Congress one at a time, or in smaller packages, Biden will be fine with that, two sources close to the White House said.
“It’s not an all-or-nothing approach,” said one source with knowledge of the White House discussions. “We aren’t saying you have to pass the Biden bill. But we are saying this is what we want to do and we are planning to move legalization forward.”
Biden’s immigration plan was an aggressive opening salvo embraced by the base, while Republicans, not surprisingly, gave it a cool reception. Some on the Hill privately questioned if Biden was simply checking a box to appease activists. Immigrant advocates, for their part, say they have no reason to believe — at this point — that Biden’s bill is ceremonial. But they warn that if substantial immigration reforms don’t reach his desk by the end of the year, Democrats and Biden would not only face an uproar from Dreamers and grassroots organizers — but the party could suffer politically as well.