The House GOP’s Refusal to Deal on #Immigration Is a Betrayal of Trust

On Huffington Post

Well that clears that up.

It wasn’t the legislative calendar after all. The House GOP, speaking through Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), finally admitted the obvious last Wednesday — the Republicans have no intention of allowing the House of Representatives to vote on anything resembling immigration reform legislation — comprehensive or piecemeal or otherwise. “Frankly, I’ll make clear, we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate Bill,” the Speaker said. Nor did the Speaker commit to bringing immigration legislation to the House floor in pieces.

Mr. Boehner was seated at the counter in Pete’s Diner on Capitol Hill where he’s a morning regular. He’d been confronted at breakfast by two young undocumented immigrants who implored him to do his job — work to pass immigration reform so they and the 11 million like them will have a chance to earn their way to lawful status so they won’t have to continue to live in fear of arrest, detention and deportation. Boehner, apparently feigning empathy, claimed he was. “I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done” Mr. Boehner said. “It’s, uh, as you know, not easy, not going to be an easy path forward. But I’ve made it clear since the day after the election it’s time to get this done.”

Yet what Boehner and his House Republican colleagues have made clear since the 2012 election is that they will only do the people’s work, whether it’s avoiding a fiscal cliff, negotiating a federal budget, or guarding the Nation’s credit rating, if they are forced to do so by being backed into a political corner. The House GOP leadership are quick to come up with lame excuses — like the so-called Hastert Rule or a short legislative calendar — but they are much slower to act on behalf of the country.

Truth be told, there is absolutely no reason why the Republicans cannot bring an immigration reform bill to the House floor by the end of this year. In fact that’s exactly what they did in the final days of 2005 when the House passed H.R. 4437, the infamous “Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act,” with overwhelming Republican support. H.R. 4437 was a mean spirited piece of legislation aimed at making millions of Latino immigrants into felons — it wasn’t all that different from the so-called SAFE Act currently pending before Congress.

Here’s how it went: The House Judiciary Committee considered H.R. 4437 for one day on December 8th and had 3 roll call votes. It was reported out of the Judiciary Committee on Dec. 13th, debated on the House floor for two days – Dec. 15th (from 4:15 p.m.-9:30 p.m.) and Dec. 16th (from 3:10 p.m.-10:30 p.m.) — and passed by the Republican controlled House 239-182. Not only that, H.R. 4437 came with a price tag of $1.9 billion for 2006-2010 and with costs that would “grow significantly” after 2010.

I’m tempted to conclude this column stating that by standing in the way of immigration reform and maintaining the untenable, cruel, and anti-American family status quo, the GOP is risking its future as a major political party. But that’s already been said and the Republicans have clearly failed to heed the warning.

The reality is that the situation is much more grave than a political party refusing to act in its own long-term political interests. The House Republicans simply will not work with the Senate or the President to hammer out bipartisan immigration reform legislation which is critical to America’s national security and economic vitality. In other words, the GOP is refusing to perform its Constitutional duty to legislate in good faith.

That’s not politics, that’s betrayal of the American people.

Follow David Leopold on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DavidLeopold
 

.@SpeakerBoehner, Listen to Your Own Caucus; #TimeIsNow for #Immigration Reform

Path To Citizenship

Rep. Jeff Denham: 11/13/13: “This issue is not dead…I think it’s important to do it this year.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/13/13]

Rep. Mike Coffman: 11/10/13: The Denver Post reported, “Coffman says he believes they should eventually be able to apply for citizenship.” [The Denver Post, 11/10/13]

Rep. David Valadao: 10/29/13: Rep. Valadao Press Release: “Congressman Valadao expressed his support for a pathway to citizenship for those currently undocumented in the United States as well as his desire to ensure the issue was addressed this year.” [Office of Rep. David Valadao – Press Release, 10/29/13]

Rep. Jeff Denham: 10/27/13: “I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks. This is a common-sense solution to our broken system. I also support a faster pathway for the children who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, who have been raised in America and educated in our schools and have no other country to call home.” [Office of Rep. Jeff Denham – Press Release, 10/27/13]

Rep. Jeff Denham: 10/4/13: “I support a pathway to earned citizenship that starts by requiring those applying to learn English, pay fines and back taxes, and wait in line behind those who have already applied for citizenship legally. The Senate’s proposal establishes a three-step process to earned citizenship, following current law for achieving both a green card and ultimately citizenship, if desired.” [The Modesto Bee, 10/4/13]

Rep. Bob Goodlatte: 9/19/13: “I wouldn’t give them what I would call a special pathway to citizenship…I would give them an earned pathway to citizenship.” [Politico, 9/19/13]

Rep. Chris Stewart: 9/5/13: “QUESTIONER: You’re saying you do – you’re okay with them getting citizenship? Not blocking, necessarily, but it would be along the same lines as they are now.  So kind of like Chaffetz said, he agrees with the path to citizenship, not a special path and not no path. Would you second that?

STEWART: I think that’s exactly right. As I understood what you’re saying to me I think what you said was exactly right.” [YouTube, 9/5/13]

Rep. Steve Southerland: 8/30/13: The Miami Herald reported, “Conservative tea party Congressman Steve Southerland has become the latest Republican to voice support for the concept of a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. ‘We have to address it. It’s a moral issue,’ Southerland, who represents a conservative Deep South district encompassing Panama City and Tallahassee, told The Miami Herald during a Friday meeting in Miami. Southerland’s support isn’t full-throated or guaranteed. He said he needs to see the details of actual legislation. He wants strict, real and fast border security.” [The Miami Herald, 8/30/13]

Rep. Mark Amodei: 8/14/13: “At the end of 10 years, if you want to become a citizen, you go to the (federal immigration system) and start the process just like anybody else…I don’t think that’s amnesty.” [Reno Gazette Journal, 8/14/13]

Rep. Mark Amodei: 2/10/13: The Las Vegas Sun reported, “…unlike many members of his party, Amodei is amenable to the idea of a pathway to citizenship — and says an entry program that doesn’t respect the principle of family reunification is a nonstarter.   ‘I’m willing to look at that — if all you’ve done is broken the immigration law, to be able to earn your way to a state where you can apply for citizenship,’ Amodei said.” [Las Vegas Sun, 2/10/13]

 Rep. Spencer Bachus: 7/10/13: “I support a pathway to citizenship because I don’t believe we should have a second class of citizens.” [Wall Street Journal, 7/10/13]

Rep. Spencer Bachus: 6/13/13: “And — because I don’t think we ought to have two classes of long-term residents, I even support a pathway to citizenship. But I do think it ought to be earned.” [CQ Transcriptions – Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte Holds a Hearing on the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act, 6/13/13]

Rep. Jason Chaffetz: 8/21/13: “There should be a pathway to citizenship, not a special pathway, and not no pathway, but there has to be a legal, lawful way to go through this process that works and right now it doesn’t.”  [KTVX-SLC (ABC) – Salt Lake City, 8/21/13]

 Rep. Mike Coffman: 7/24/13: The Denver Post reported, “Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora…said he believes comprehensive immigration reform, increased border security and a provisional legal status for the millions of undocumented people living in the United States now needs to happen mostly simultaneously. Then, when it has been proven the border is secure, a pathway to apply for legal citizenship should be opened for all undocumented people, he said.” [Denver Post, 7/24/13]

 Rep. Mike Coffman: 7/21/13: “I believe that these young people should be afforded a pathway to citizenship.” [Denver Post, 7/21/13]

 Rep. Jim Costa: 7/1/13: “We must give the 11 million people that are currently living in the shadow the opportunity they deserve to become a part of this great country of ours.” [Fresno Bee, 7/1/13]

Rep. Jeff Denham: 8/22/13: The Patterson Irrigator reported, “When asked point blank by several of the people who gave testimonies whether he supported a pathway to citizenship Denham didn’t waiver.  ‘I have and I will,’ he said.” [Patterson Irrigator, 8/22/13]

Rep. Jeff Denham: 8/8/13: The Modesto Bee reported, “Denham met with many members of the informal group previously in June, about the time the U.S. Senate was passing its comprehensive immigration reform bill. He has publicly supported the sweeping legislation, but it has met roadblocks in the House…‘The Senate bill won’t get a vote in the House, and it’s something that could have helped this community,’ Denham said to the some 25 people present. ‘I am frustrated. I thought we’d get this done before the August work period. I think the Senate made tremendous progress. It was done bipartisan and I thought that would be enough to get the House moving forward.’  [Modesto Bee, 8/8/13]

Rep. Charlie Dent: 8/21/13: “For the balance of those folks, I think it will be a long hard trek to a legal status, and for some that may ultimately result in citizenship.” [Video via Washington Post, 8/21/13]

Rep. Charlie Dent, 6/27/13: “Many members, including myself, are open to some kind of earned path to a lawful status that, to many, would result in earned citizenship.” [L.A. Times, 6/27/13]

 Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart: 7/14/13: “BOB SCHIEFFER: Congressman Diaz-Balart, do you think that the House can come up with some sort of plan that deals with the 11 million people that are in this country now? Because it seems to me, until you can come up with some realistic plan to deal with them, the rest of it doesn’t really matter.

REP. DIAZ-BALART: No, I think we will reach that — that point.” [CBS News – Face The Nation, 7/14/13]

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart: 6/28/13: “…we have to deal with the reality, whether we like it or not, that there are millions of people who are here, we have to figure out a way to come out of the shadows…And then give those who have been here for many, many years, who have been working, a way to earn their way into legalization.” [Bloomberg – Political Capital With Al Hunt, 6/28/13]

 Rep. Blake Farenthold: 7/3/13: “Getting to citizenship is going to be tough, but never say never.”[New York Times, 7/3/13]

Rep. Bob Goodlatte: 7/11/13: USA Today reported, “‘I and other members are open-minded to the idea that [undocumented immigrants] should have a way to come out of the shadows, to be able to work, to have their own businesses, to pay their taxes, to travel back and forth to their home country and elsewhere.’  After attaining that status, Goodlatte said, they could then apply for legal permanent residence and eventually U.S. citizenship through avenues that are already available to foreigners…” [USA Today, 7/11/13]

Rep. Michael Grimm: 7/30/13: WNYC reported, “Congressman Grimm recently told reporters that citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally is ‘the ultimate goal.’” [WNYC, 7/30/13]

Rep. Joe Heck: 8/12/13: “I believe that the pathway that the Senate bill has laid out is a reasonable pathway. I think when you look at having to go through background checks, having to pay a fine, having to make sure that your tax liabilities are paid, making sure that you’re in a provisional status for a period of time, where you have to learn English, you have to show that you’ve got a job — there’s a lot of safeguards here.” [Video via Washington Post, 8/12/13]

Rep. Joe Heck: 7/19/13: “I’ve said, and I’ve always said, that I think a tough but fair pathway to earned citizenship that doesn’t allow anyone to jump to the front of the line, that has certain benchmarks that need to be met, like the ability to show that you can support yourself and your family, that you can speak English, that you have a clean criminal and national security background check, that I would support those.” [KNPR, 7/19/13]

Rep. Darrell Issa: 2/6/13: “Ultimately, if you’re allowed to remain in this country permanently, in almost all cases, there should be a path to citizenship. That is what Abraham Lincoln would have said. That’s what the Republican Party stands for.” [Real Clear Politics, 2/6/13]

Sen. Ron Johnson: 5/8/13: “It is not healthy to have 11 million undocumented individuals in a country. We need to find out who those people are, provide them some sort of legal status.” [Shorewood Patch, 5/8/13]

Rep. Mike Kelly: 7/14/13: “So is there a path to citizenship? I think there is.” [CBS News – Face The Nation, 7/14/13]

Rep. Peter King: 6/5/13: “As far as if we do have security — and I feel that it’s never going to be 100 percent — but as close to full security as possible for the future, then I believe we should legalize those that are here.” [New York Daily News, 6/5/13]

Rep. Raul Labrador: 3/20/13: “What I think should happen is anyone who is here illegally can come out of the shadows, become legalized in some way, have some legal status, and that status could lead to legal permanent residency and citizenship eventually…” [CNN, 3/20/13]

Rep. Raul Labrador: 6/5/13: “If we can fix the borders, if we can deal with future flow, if we can do interior enforcement, I think [conservative members’] positions on the citizenship issue will begin to soften.” [National Journal, 6/5/13]

Rep. James Lankford: 7/10/13: The Associated Press reported, “‘I wouldn’t prohibit forever’ people from getting citizenship, said Congressman James Lankford, a Republican. ‘I’m a Christian, and restitution and reconciliation’s a big deal. If you do something illegal or inappropriate you should be able to resolve that, face the penalty, clear it and be forgiven.’” [Associated Press, 7/10/13]

Rep. Kevin McCarthy: 8/7/13: The Daily Pilot reported, “[Rep. McCarthy] promoted a guest-worker program and legal status for many immigrants but stopped short of offering a path to citizenship.   ‘What you then have to address is the 11 million that are here considered illegal,’ he said. ‘I personally believe it’s different for someone who’s been here 30 years than if they’ve been here three months.’” [Daily Pilot, 8/7/13]

 Rep. Pat Meehan: 7/9/13: “It’s within my contemplation that we’ve got to figure out some kind of earned legal status for people who are here… It’s impractical to assume that we’re going to move 12 million people out of our borders.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/9/13]

 Rep. Gary Miller: 4/5/13: The Press-Enterprise reported, “‘I think whatever you’re going to do, you’re not going to take people that came here illegally and put them in the front of the line,’ [Rep. Miller] said. ‘You’re going to put them in line to become citizens.’   When [Radio Bilingüe’s Samuel Orozco] asked Miller whether he would support ‘earned legal status and citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants,’ the congressman responded, ‘What you said there is something I would agree with. You said earned. I think that’s appropriate.’” [Press Enterprise, 4/5/13]

Rep. Devin Nunes: 7/23/13: The San Francisco Chronicle reported, “The Chronicle contacted every GOP House member from California. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, was the only other Republican [besides Rep. David Valadao] to support a pathway.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/13]

Rep. Tom Reed: 8/19/13: “On the issue of immigration, especially when you bring up the kids, that is something that I’m sensitive to, that I recognize, that these individuals, especially the kids, came here innocently. And there needs to be a path forward for them. And that path forward includes citizenship.” [Video via Think Progress, 8/19/13]

Rep. David Reichert: 8/7/13:  “Now, what about those folks, though, that have been here 25 years, and they have family and they have kids that have come over, their kids have gone to school, they came over when they were little, now they’re high school age and they’re graduating?  What do you do with those people? You don’t arrest them….I want them to pay a fine, there’s some penalties they have to through, steps that they are going to go through. I want to hold them accountable and then they get citizenship and pay taxes…” [KVI Talk Radio 570, 8/7/13Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 2/6/13: “I’m in favor of a citizenship path…”  [Real Clear Politics, 2/6/13]

Rep. Paul Ryan: 6/24/13: “At the end of the day, if everybody else in line who came here legally and did everything right is through the system and a person then, after an exhaustive period, after a probationary period, after a green card, not consuming any government benefits, wants to get in line like everybody else for citizenship, we should allow that person to do that…That’s earning the right to be a citizen.” [Washington Times, 6/24/13]

Rep. Paul Ryan: 7/10/13: The Washington Post reported, “[Rep. Paul Ryan] has held private meetings with members of the group and has reached out to other Republicans to try to find support for a comprehensive plan that would include a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally.” [Washington Post, 7/10/13]

Rep. Mark Sanford: 7/16/13: The State reported, “US Rep. Mark Sanford believes Congress ultimately will pass an immigration reform bill that contains a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers already in the U.S…‘Once it leaves House, I think it will be the Senate side that prevails,’ he said Monday.  Sanford supports a path to citizenship after U.S. borders have been secured, he said.” [The State (SC), 7/16/13]

Rep. Aaron Schock: 8/5/13: “I think there needs to be a secure border, and when that happens and people pay their back taxes, and they haven’t committed any violations of laws. They have been here on a probationary period, then they can apply for citizenship…” [Town Hall event via YouTube, 8/5/13]

 Rep. David Valadao: 7/23/13: “There’s no reason why such a route to citizenship shouldn’t be on the table.”  [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/13]

Rep. David Valadao: 7/1/13: “Once you talk to the members and explain to them it’s a process, where they can work for it, appreciate it and someday become citizens — just like my parents did — most members begin to understand.” [Fresno Bee, 7/1/13]

Rep. Greg Walden: 6/3/13: USA Today reported, “[Walden] endorsed the inclusion of a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million immigrants now in the United States illegally. ‘If they pay a fine, if they true up in all their areas and then go to the back of the line, there’s probably a way then that they can get there,’ he said.” [USA Today, 6/3/13]

 Rep. Daniel Webster: 8/4/13: The Orlando Sentinel reported, “On the same day Congress adjourned for a five-week break, U.S. Rep. Dan Webster did something he’s avoided for months: speak at length about immigration reform and declare his support for an approach that would give unauthorized immigrants a pathway to citizenship..” [Orlando Sentinel, 8/4/13]

 Senate Bill/Need For CIR

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart: 11/13/13: “I remain steadfast in the fact that the House needs to take up immigration reform. I urge Speaker Boehner to remain open to any options that allow us to solve this crucial issue. It has been said time and time again that our immigration system is broken, and we must come together to find a sensible solution to fix it. I continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on a bill that secures our border, respects the rule of law, strengthens our economy, modernizes the visa system, and addresses the millions of undocumented immigrants in a way that is both reasonable and humane.” [Office of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart – Press Release, 11/13/13]

Rep. Mike Coffman: 11/10/13: The Denver Post reported, “Aurora GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, who admits he has evolved his position on immigration because of his new district, says he believes in comprehensive immigration reform. But only after there is an independently verified secure border would he support allowing 11 million individuals living in the country without legal permission to apply for permanent legal status from a temporary status.”  [The Denver Post, 11/10/13]

Rep. Fred Upton: 11/1/13: “…the current system is really broken in every way…I will be part of a bipartisan effort to fix the problem, because it has to be fixed…To me, doing nothing is not acceptable….I do believe that we’ll have at least half our caucus for it…” [Kalamazoo Gazette, 11/1/13]

Rep. David Valadao: 11/1/13: “We’ve got to do something…Leadership has to recognize that this is important to more of us than less of us…” [Los Angeles Times, 11/1/13]

Rep. David Valadao: 10/30/13: The Hanford Sentinel reported, “Denham made waves last week when he thumbed his nose at GOP leaders and announced himself as a co-sponsor of a bipartisan immigration package called HR 15. The measure cleared the Senate last year, but has gotten little support in the GOP-dominated House. ‘If my signing on to it helps move the [process] forward, I’m happy to do that,’ Valadao said, adding that he’s still working with House Republicans to see if an alternative package is possible.” [The Hanford Sentinel, 10/30/13]

Rep. David Valadao: 10/29/13: “Many of my Republicans colleagues in the House understand the benefits of comprehensive immigration reform and they too would like to see legislation come before the House for a vote….I will do everything in my power to ensure that immigration reform is addressed in the House of Representatives before the end of the year.” [Office of Rep. David Valadao – Press Release, 10/29/13]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 10/29/13: Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Press Release: “Today, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the Florida Congressional delegation, announced her support for H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a comprehensive bipartisan bill to fix the current, broken immigration system.” [Office of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – Press Release, 10/29/13]

Rep. Jeff Denham: 10/27/13: Rep. Denham Press Release: “U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) today announced his co-sponsorship of H.R. 15, the House immigration bill introduced October 2, 2013 by Representative Joe Garcia (D-FL), on Univisión’s Sunday show ‘Al Punto.’ Rep. Denham is the first Republican to co-sponsor the bill.” [Office of Rep. Jeff Denham – Press Release, 10/27/13]

Rep. Devin Nunes: 10/10/13: The Fresno Bee reported, “Nunes said it’s ‘vital’ to national security and that he wants to ‘secure our dangerous southern border while providing a humane solution for illegal immigrants already in America.’” [The Fresno Bee, 10/10/13]

Rep. David Valadao: 10/2/13: Politico reported, “Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) said, ‘there’s a lot of good things’ in the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill and indicated some interest in the House Democratic plan. ‘If there’s some common-sense legislation out there, it doesn’t matter who starts it,’ Valadao said. ‘If there’s an opportunity to do something that’s moving the ball forward, I’ll look at it.’” [Politico, 10/2/13]

Rep. Spencer Bachus: 6/13/13: “And I — I think you know that I have advocated for a comprehensive approach.” [CQ Transcriptions – Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte Holds a Hearing on the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act, 6/13/13]

Rep. Eric Cantor: 8/4/13: “We will have a vote on a series of bills at some point, Chris. And it will deal with a variety of issues. Border security is a really important issue. Because it goes to the trust factor as well. We also, as you know, I have been very active in promoting what I’m calling a kids’ bill. It’s not — and it says that you ought not hold kids liable for illegal acts of their parents.”  [Fox News Sunday, 8/4/13]

Rep. Mike Coffman: 7/21/13: “A comprehensive immigration reform proposal must incorporate three essential elements: it must secure our borders and provide for the effective enforcement of our immigration laws; it must contribute to the economic growth of our country; and it must be compassionate in keeping families together.” [Denver Post, 7/21/13]

Rep. Tom Cole: 7/14/13: “I am not surprised that the Senate bill can’t make it in the House…But I do think the eight senators that started the effort produced a decent product. And I think it got better. That’s why it picked up Republican support along the way.” [ABC News – This Week, 7/14/13]

 Rep. Jeff Denham: 8/9/13: “The Senate bill won’t get a vote in the House, and it’s something that could have helped this community…I am frustrated. I thought we’d get this done before the August work period. I think the Senate made tremendous progress. It was done bipartisan and I thought that would be enough to get the House moving forward.” [Modesto Bee, 8/9/13]

Rep. Cory Gardner: 8/9/13: “I strongly support immigration reform.” [Sterling Journal-Advocate (CO), 8/9/13]

Rep. Doc Hastings: 8/13/13: The Columbia Basin Herald reported, “[Rep. Doc] Hastings also addressed immigration reform, which he hopes passes by the end of the year.” [Columbia Basin Herald (WA), 8/12/13]

Rep. Joe Heck: 7/4/13: “There are some good things in [the Senate bill] …I think there are things in there that can serve as a framework for some of the House bills…”  [Las Vegas Sun, 7/4/13]

 Rep. Darrell Issa: 2/5/13: “Well, I think that the Senate was ahead of everyone, and on a bipartisan basis they outlined some of the structures of a good, bipartisan bill.” [FOX News Happening Now, 2/5/13]

 Rep. Raul Labrador: 7/10/13: “It’s a good start, there’s a lot of good things in the Senate bill…” [MSNBC – Alex Wagner, 7/10/13]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 6/28/13: “I support it [the Senate bill]…We are a nation of laws and we are also a nation of fairness and opportunity and I think that that bill strikes that balance…” [CNN, 6/28/13]

Rep. Paul Ryan: 7/10/13: The Washington Post reported, “[Rep. Paul Ryan] has held private meetings with members of the group and has reached out to other Republicans to try to find support for a comprehensive plan that would include a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally.” [Washington Post, 7/10/13]

Rep. David Valadao: 7/9/13: The Fresno Bee reported, “[Rep.] Valadao said the Senate bill was a good start, and a path to citizenship should be part of immigration reform, but ‘everything should be on the table,’ he said. ‘At the end of the day, we have to get something that works for everybody and something that works for the long term.’” [Fresno Bee, 7/9/13]

House GOP Needs to Put up or Shut up on Immigration Reform

From HuffPost Politics

There is a reason the twitter hashtag #TimeIsNow caught on. The time really is now for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the House Republican leadership to allow a vote on a bipartisan immigration reform bill. It’s been 5 long months since the Senate passed such a bill, and sent it over to the House for consideration.

But it’s been one excuse after another from the House GOP leadership. First it was the Tea Party-manufactured fiscal crisis which consumed most of September and closed the government for the first two weeks of October. Now the House GOP leadership — including even some like Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) who has worked to draft a bipartisan immigration bill — claim that time has run out this year on immigration reform; that the GOP leadership cannot possibly schedule a vote on a bipartisan bill because there are not enough days in the legislative calendar.

Really? Am I missing something? Last I checked the majority party in the House — the Republicans — controls the legislative calendar.

What about next year then?

Well, there is certainly no reason why the House cannot work on immigration reform in 2014. But if they delay it that long I can already imagine more lame excuses being concocted by the GOP leadership, starting with their reluctance to schedule a vote before for the primaries lest some of their members be vulnerable to challenges from the anti-immigration reform fringe of the party. Of course after the primary season the House leadership will claim the legislative window leading up to the fall election will be too short to schedule a vote on immigration reform. What about during the lame duck session which follows the general election? Maybe, but that’s another tiny legislative window, probably big enough to squeeze in immigration reform but not if the House GOP would rather conjure up more excuses.

Then we’re into 2015 and it won’t be long until presidential politics will take precedence over immigration reform.

In the meantime, 1,100 people are being deported every day. That’s not a cold statistic. That’s 1,100 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and others who came to the U.S. for the same reasons most immigrants did — to build a better life for their children. Just because the House GOP leadership cannot seem to find the political courage to allow a vote on immigration reform, thousands and thousands of hard working folks continue to be torn from their US Citizen spouses and children who remain behind in the U.S. For some hardliners in Congress, like Rep. Steve King (R-IA), it’s easy to justify this daily injustice. “They should have waited in line and immigrated legally”, so the argument goes. “Illegal immigrants have no one to blame but themselves if they get deported.” And on and on.

That might make some sense if this country had a safe, orderly, and fair immigration policy-one designed to keep the border secure and American families safe and together. But that’s not case. There is no family- or business-friendly immigration “line” in which to wait. What exists is an ugly morass of rules and regulations that help very few, except maybe fringe restrictionists who want to stop virtually all immigration.

The bottom line is there is no perfect time to do hard work. And there is no time like the present for Speaker Boehner and the House GOP leadership to step up to the plate, put a bipartisan immigration bill before the House, and allow the elected representatives to vote on it. And even if they can’t bring themselves to do that, there are certainly other bills — like the Kids Act which helps DREAMERs — that can be put to a vote.

Let the chips fall where they may. No more excuses, the time is now. Our country cannot afford more dithering and foot dragging by the House GOP.

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Immigration Reform: A Pathway to Citizenship for the GOP?

Originally posted on Huffington Post

Needless to say, the shutdown/debt crisis didn’t end well for Congressional Republicans. The basic take away is that the GOP backed down after a 16 day standoff over Obamacare with little or nothing to show for it, other than a very annoyed American public. A Washington Post/ABC poll released earlier this week found that an astounding 74 percent of the public disapprove of GOP’s handling of the budget negotiations.

The question now is whether reasonable Republicans have learned that they can’t let extremists run their strategy. They have a clear way out of this mess, and an historic opportunity to earn back the confidence of their supporters and the respect of the American people.

How? By working with House Democrats to pass a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, one which keeps the borders safe, prevents employers from gaming the system, provides a temporary worker program, and gives the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the shadows a reasonable path to earned citizenship.

Of course there are those who will say immigration reform is not possible now, especially given the nasty partisanship of the past couple of weeks. Why on earth would the House GOP work with President Obama and their counterparts in the House on immigration reform given the animosity and partisan bickering that plagues Washington?

The answer: because it’s in their best interest.

Recent polls in key GOP held districts show that voters overwhelmingly support immigration reform with a path to citizenship. More ominously for the GOP, polling from NBC/Wall Street Journal, Washington Post/ABC News, and Public Policy Polling shows that the Republican party’s image is badly in need of repair among the American people and especially among Latino voters. They could surprise everyone by doing something big and bold and turning immediately to broad immigration reform.

Just this morning, Mr. Obama reiterated what he has been saying all week — even during the midst of the debt crisis — that immigration reform is one of the three key issues upon which Republicans and Democrats can work together to strengthen the economy. The president stressed that an immigration overhaul will grow the economy by $1.4 trillion. It’s something the majority of Americans agree about.

Immigration reform also happens to be the right thing to do. The American people want it and the American economy needs it.

And therein lies the opportunity. Just as the House GOP leadership handled the fiscal cliff crisis which loomed at the start of the year, and just as the House GOP leadership finally ended the debt crisis this week, House Republicans can fix America’s broken immigration system if they are willing to work across the aisle.

This time they should take charge, boldly seize the initiative and push forward to pass a bipartisan immigration bill. And they have a framework from which to build. Earlier this year, as Mr. Obama pointed out this morning, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill, and did so on a bipartisan basis. The House leadership should work with willing Republicans and Democrats to build upon the legislation hammered out in the Senate, send it to the floor for a vote and, deliver it to the White House for the president’s signature. And even if they can’t bring themselves to do that, they can put together the pieces that ultimately can fix what’s wrong with our immigration system. In this case, a “win” for Obama is also a “win” for Republicans.

That’s why immigration reform is different than any other issue in Congress.

If they do this right not only will the House GOP have given the country a badly needed immigration overhaul — but they will have taken a major stride toward rebuilding their brand and earning the confidence of the American people.

 

Follow David Leopold on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DavidLeopold

The DREAM 9’s Misguided Protest

Originally posted on Fox News Latino

I applaud the courage, passion, and commitment of the DREAM 9. And I am thrilled that they are no longer in immigration detention.

But while I stand with them in their effort to achieve immigration reform I do not agree that self-deporting and then seeking to return was a wise move.

First, from a purely technical legal perspective, self-deporting from the U.S. subjected the DREAM 9 to the danger of irreparable legal damage. The bottom line is that in the vast majority of cases there is no legal remedy for an undocumented person who leaves the U.S. and attempts to return. True, all 9 DREAMERs have, thankfully, been released from custody. But they are hardly out of legal jeopardy. They are now each burdened with the task of proving to an immigration judge that they fear persecution or torture if they are returned to Mexico. Statistics show that the vast majority of Mexican asylum claims are denied.

More importantly, self-deporting and attempting to return under the glare of the media spotlight, as the DREAM 9 did, might tend to incorrectly suggest to others that legal remedies do exist for those that self-deport, encouraging them to follow suit. But that’s not the case. Once an undocumented person departs the U.S. without proper papers all bets are off. Attempting to return—even legally—can, in some cases, result in severe legal consequences, including even criminal prosecution.

Third, the DREAM 9 protest, while a demonstration of courage and commitment to the plight of the victims of America’s badly dysfunctional immigration system, seemed designed to take the pressure off of an intransigent House GOP leadership which refuses to consider the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate earlier this year.

Would it not have made more sense to focus pressure on those members of the House of Representatives who, against the wishes of the American people, reject bipartisan calls for a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented aspiring Americans? Why not call out Speaker Boehner and his GOP leadership lieutenants who have allowed their House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committee chairs to spend the better part of the summer doing little more than pushing anti-immigrant legislation—like Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) bill to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process which give DREAMERs a temporary reprieve from deportation while Congress gets to work passing immigration reform. Why not ask House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) why he refused to give a direct answer when asked by Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace whether he was committed to a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants and why he chose instead to hide behind classic Washington-speak, “We will have a vote on a series of bills at some point”, Cantor said, “And it will deal with a variety of issues.”

Fourth, the DREAM 9’s border exercise could have dangerously played into the hands of anti-immigrant restrictionists; those who trade in hate and fear, and who will stop at nothing to defeat real immigration reform. The DREAM 9, perhaps unwittingly, created an opportunity for people like nativist lawyer Kris Kobach –who thankfully recently failed in his nasty bid to have DACA declared unconstitutional– to cynically question the true motives of those that seek to find solutions to America’s broken immigration system.

I strongly support the hopes and aspirations of the DREAM 9 and all other aspiring and future Americans to build a fair and just immigration system which includes a reasonable road to citizenship for the undocumented living in America’s shadows. But at this moment in the historic struggle for immigration reform, I believe our energy, passion and commitment to making America the best it can be must be aimed at getting Speaker John Boehner and the House Republicans to work toward sending President Obama a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he can sign into law.

David Leopold is the former national president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and currently practices immigration law in Cleveland, Ohio.

Memo to the U.S. Senate: America Is Ready for Immigration Reform

Originally posed on HuffPostPolitics

It’s been six years since the full Senate considered an overhaul of America’s immigration system. Since then I have witnessed countless instances of what that delay has meant. I’ve seen American families torn apart by deportation and promising young scientists at America’s finest research institutions blocked by interminable visa backlogs. I’ve watched American companies stagnate because of arbitrary limits on visas for high skilled workers. My fellow immigration attorneys and I have done our best to help a multitude of men, women and children hopelessly caught in the dysfunctional web of archaic laws and regulations that make up America’s broken immigration system.

Yet, sitting in Cleveland, Ohio today, I’m more hopeful than ever that comprehensive reform will become a reality this year. The pundits tell us that the political stars have aligned. President Obama wants to make good on his promise to Latino voters and build a second term legacy. And the Republicans learned last November that a platform limited to “self-deportation” and racial profiling laws are a ticket to electoral disaster.

But my optimism is based less on confluence of political interests than it is the American people. I see an understanding for why immigration reform is necessary around Ohio and the country. Like in Youngstown, Ohio where the renewed vitality of the American auto industry is creating jobs and folks want the immigration problem fixed so that their families remain safe, and local businesses can thrive.

Other cities in Ohio offer the same feeling, like Painesville, Canton, and Freemont Ohio where immigration reform would free American families from the fear of agents invading their homes to arrest an undocumented spouse, parent, or sibling. Immigration reform could mean that the best days may lay ahead for rustbelt cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Detroit where civic leaders could attract global talent if our nation develops an immigration policy that welcomes, rather than rebuffs, foreign investors, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

Over the past weeks, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee analyzed, criticized and improved the bill originally introduced by the “Gang of Eight.” That was, in large part, due to the masterful leadership of Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and his commitment to an open and bipartisan process. Yet as I sat in the Judiciary Committee hearing room I couldn’t help but wonder whether the bill’s chief opponents, Senators Grassley (R-IA), Sessions (R-AL), Cornyn (R-TX) and Cruz (R-TX) would be so bitterly opposed to its core principles, including a roadmap to citizenship, if they knew the undocumented as individuals, not faceless “illegal aliens.” I don’t think these senators could help but respect strong women, like “Lenore” who toils day after day cleaning houses and washing dishes so she can give her four U.S. citizen daughters a better life. Or Manuel, a DREAMer, who was brought to the U.S. from Germany as a child, virtually abandoned, and nearly deported six months before his high school graduation. How could anyone not be impressed by the sheer grit, determination and hard work of these aspiring Americans?

The immigration legislation that is now come before the full Senate is a true compromise; it has provisions that will disappoint everyone. Immigration reform advocates will not like the expanded “triggers” which could delay legalization for years. They’ll also be disappointed by a narrower, less inclusive, path to citizenship than they’d hoped for, by cuts in family immigration, and by the exclusion of same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. Here in America’s heartland that means people like “Steve”, an Iraq war veteran who risked his life for the country he loves, will not be able to spend his life with the person he loves.

Yet, while it’s far from perfect, the immigration overhaul that now goes to the Senate floor is a good bill. It’s the toughest border security measure ever considered by Congress and makes much needed fixes to America’s outdated visa system — including an emphasis on visas for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math graduates. It makes it harder for employers to game the system by requiring electronic verification of employment authorization, and it includes an arduous, but reasonable, road to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently living in the shadows.

Last summer, after President Obama announced a temporary reprieve from deportation for the promising undocumented youth known as DREAMERs, I was asked to explain the process to a group in a rural Ohio town. A young girl sitting in the front row sheepishly raised her hand to ask whether the deferral meant she could apply to college. When I answered yes, I saw something I hadn’t seen on an undocumented face in years — a smile born of hope.

Things are indeed different this time around. America is ready for comprehensive immigration reform.

Here’s What Could Happen If DREAMers Lose DACA

PHOTO: graduate

 Originally posted by ABC NEWS/Univision
April 29, 2013

In August 2012, the Obama administration started a program that allowed young undocumented immigrants to legally live and work in the U.S. on a temporary basis.

So far, more than 488,000 people have applied, and 268,361 have been granted a deportation reprieve under the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

One of the biggest worries of applicants, however, is what might happen if the program ended. They might find out relatively soon.

lawsuit challening the legality of that program appears to be gaining traction.

See Also: Schumer and McCain See Huge Majority for Immigration Bill

The suit was filed by several parties, including Chris Crane, a union leader for federal immigration agents. It makes the case that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is breaking the law by choosing not to deport undocumented immigrants it deems a low priority. By low priority, we’re talking about undocumented young people and immigrants with a clean criminal record and an established presence in the U.S.

The agents are being represented by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has helped draft state-level laws targeting undocumented immigrants, like Arizona’s SB 1070.

The case is still in its early stages, so figuring out how the judge will rule means a little bit of guesswork. Educated guesswork, but still not certain.

Kobach says he’s hopeful that the court will rule in his favor. But what that means for DREAMers all depends on which parts of the case the judge upholds, if any.

As Kobach sees it, certain aspects of the case could void DACA, and potentially lead to the deportation of undocumented immigrants participating in the program.

“I would hope that the law would be followed, and the law states very clearly that most of the individuals that are covered by DACA are to be placed in removal proceedings,” he told ABC/Univision.

But David Leopold, general counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, sees things much differently. He doesn’t expect the program to stop.

First of all, Leopold has doubts that the lawsuit will be victorious. An order released earlier this week favored the plaintiff. But the judge, who presides over a federal district court in Texas, is still considering whether he has jurisdiction over the matter.

Even if the challenge is successful, Leopold thinks it will only mean some extra red tape for the people in the program and DHS.

court order issued by the judge last week focuses on a particular aspect of the immigration process — when an immigration agent determines that someone is in the country without authorization.

The focus on that one particular aspect shows that the judge considers that part of the case to have merit, but perhaps not the other parts of the case, Leopold said.

If that scenario plays out — with the judge ruling favorably on this one aspect — it won’t be hard for DHS to find another way to administer DACA, Leopold said.

The department could just decide to give someone deferred action later in the immigration process. Yes, the ruling would force agents to detain someone they believed to be in the country illegally. But later stages of the process could be altered to keep DACA alive.

People in the program would likely have to go to a court hearing, sign some papers and would then be released again, Leopold said.

The change wouldn’t take effect right away, either. The government could ask for a delay in making the change, and could file an appeal. We’re still in the early stages of the case.

The Obama administration strongly supports the program and believes DACA won’t go away as a result of the lawsuit.

Peter Boogaard, a DHS spokesperson, the agency being sued, said that the department is “fully confident” that DACA will survive the legal challenge.

“As the Supreme Court made clear just last term, DHS has the authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion at all stages of the immigration process,” he said, “and DACA is an appropriate exercise of that authority.”

All of that should be good news for DREAMers, who took the risk of exposing their immigration status to enroll in the program. But even with the possibility of a favorable outcome, the uncertainty around the case could keep people from applying, according to Leopold.

“Does it scare DACA applicants? Of course it does,” Leopold said. “And I think that’s exactly what Mr. Kobach wants to do, and his client, Mr. Crane.”

Kobach said the case is not a scare tactic, but has legitimate legal weight.

“The end goal is to require the administration to follow federal law,” he told ABC/Univision. “There’s been an attitude of lawlessness in some of the actions taken by the Napolitano DHS.”

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