A one-page “standards for immigration reform” document released by House Republican leaders on Thursday calls for a path to legal status — but not citizenship — for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, as well as “an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship” for young immigrants brought here illegally by their parents…
Initial reaction from Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, indicated that his party would consider the principles a starting point in negotiations.
“While these standards are certainly not everything we would agree with, they leave a real possibility that Democrats and Republicans, in both the House and Senate, can in some way come together and pass immigration reform that both sides can accept,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “It is a long, hard road, but the door is open.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the co-author of the Senate immigration reform bill, praised House GOP leaders for issuing a set of immigration reform principles that reflect the Senate bill.
“I think they’re fine,” he said. “I will support everything they’re doing and certainly will not take shots from the sidelines.”…
“I think most people in their right mind should be glad that we’re seeing movement on the House side,” he said. “If you’re going to start carping at them on the first day when they put out principles, then you’re not serious about immigration reform.
When it comes to immigration reform, a number of lawmakers at the House GOP retreat in Cambridge, Md. seem to be open to the idea of providing some form of legal status to illegal immigrants that would stop short of citizenship…
“It’s an interesting question,” said Representative Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.). “It’s an interesting question. If you legalize somebody without a pathway to citizenship, you’re creating, in essence, a class of people that have no chance of becoming citizens. Maybe you give that chance to their children. That’s one of the debates I’ve heard.”…
Republican Study Committee chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana repeatedly changed the subject when asked about immigration reform, but did stress the importance of border security, and said that it was incumbent on President Obama to “show good faith that he’s willing to enforce the laws of the land.”
Let’s not forget enforcement, which is a critical part of immigration overhaul from a GOP perspective. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said this in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper immediately following the release of the principles: “The approach that that we want to take is not ‘trust but verify’ but ‘verify and trust,'” he said. That’s a not-so-veiled knock on President Obama for flouting the GOP’s wishes in any number of areas, including immigration, by acting unilaterally without congressional sign-off…
Within minutes of the draft leaking, its content received both push-back and support. Business Roundtable called it “a positive step forward on the path to fixing America’s broken immigration system.” The AFL-CIO shot it down because it lacks a pathway to citizenship, with President Richard Trumka calling it “a flimsy document that only serves to underscore the callous attitude Republicans have toward our nation’s immigrants.” Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler called the principles “a full embrace of amnesty.”
In three essential components, the GOP leaders’ plan appears to be similar to the Senate Democrat / White House plan: it grants work permits almost immediately to illegal immigrants to compete against unemployed Americans for any job; it substantially expands the flow of new immigrant workers, including a drastic surge in unskilled workers; and it provides amnesty and the ability for a large number of those here illegally to apply for citizenship through green cards.
In the rush to pass an immigration bill, there has been a near absence of any serious thought about the conditions facing American workers. The last 40 years has been a period of record immigration to the U.S., with the last 10 years seeing more new arrivals than any prior 10-year period in history. This trend has coincided with wage stagnation, enormous growth in welfare programs, and a shrinking workforce participation rate. A sensible, conservative approach would focus on lifting those living here today, both immigrant and native-born, out of poverty and into the middle class before doubling or tripling the level of immigration into the U.S.
A sensible immigration policy would also listen to the opinion of the American people. Not the opinions of the paid-for consultants trotted out with their agenda-driven polls to GOP member meetings but the actual, honest opinion of the people who sent us here. There is a reason why none of the corporate-funded ads for amnesty breathe a word about doubling immigration levels. According to Rasmussen Reports, working and middle class Americans strongly oppose large expansions of our already generous immigration system. Those earning under $30,000 prefer a reduction to an increase by an overwhelming 3-1 margin.
“In order to reform our immigration code, and I agree that we need to reform it, we need to undertake this in a step-by-step fashion, and the very first thing we need to do is secure the border,” Lee said when asked for his reaction to the drama unfolding at the House GOP conference retreat. “And we also need to reform our antiquated, outdated visa system – our legal immigration processes.”
“Once those things are done, once those things are in place and have been verified, then we’ll be in a better place to figure out how to treat the eleven million people who are here illegally with dignity and respect for the rule of law,” he explained. “But these things can’t be wrapped together all at once. We need to undertake those first two steps first and complete them before we move on to the third.”
A victory for the president’s immigration agenda would dispirit many in the conservative base while also damaging Republican efforts with the working class. But, even if conservatives are able to stop a big-government anti-integration and anti-opportunity immigration bill, the months of in-fighting will have taken their toll on party unity and grassroots energy.
The past 24 hours give a taste of how sharp that in-fighting could be. A BuzzFeed story today quoted Republicans attacking fellow Republicans as racist. For example, an unnamed Southern Republican member of Congress implied that the racial anxiety of the conservative base was behind some of his or her colleagues’ opposition to the president’s immigration agenda: “Part of it, I think — and I hate to say this, because these are my people — but I hate to say it, but it’s racial.” Apparently, some Republicans are practicing in hopes of becoming MSNBC primetime hosts.
If the House chooses to continue to wade into the immigration debate, this kind of racially inflammatory rhetoric will continue and likely escalate. And if Republicans are going to attack fellow GOPers as racists, one can only imagine the demagogic vitriol pouring out of the left on this issue.
“Right now, Republican leadership in both chambers is aggressively urging Members to stand down on virtually every front: on the continuing resolution, on the budget, on the farm bill, on the debt ceiling,” Cruz said. “They may or may not be right, but their argument is that we should focus exclusively on Obamacare and on jobs. In that context, why on earth would the House dive into immigration right now? It makes no sense, unless you’re Harry Reid. Republicans are poised for an historic election this fall–a conservative tidal wave much like 2010. The biggest thing we could do to mess that up would be if the House passed an amnesty bill–or any bill perceived as an amnesty bill–that demoralized voters going into November.”…
“Anyone pushing an amnesty bill right now should go ahead and put a ‘Harry Reid for Majority Leader’ bumper sticker on their car, because that will be the likely effect if Republicans refuse to listen to the American people and foolishly change the subject from Obamacare to amnesty,” he said.
“I’m very skeptical that anything’s going to happen between now and November, other than to change the subject from Obamacare,” Cornyn said. “I honestly don’t think [it] is advantageous to us between now and November to engage in the divisive discussion about immigration.”…
“What I would prefer is for us to have this discussion in earnest when Republicans are in the majority in the Senate and in the House, and then we can control the bills that go across the floor and look for areas where we can achieve some consensus, but particularly with border security and enforcement,” Cornyn said. “That’s got to happen before we get any public confidence in the federal government’s ability to deal with this.”
It’s terrific for ethnic lobbyists whose political clout will skyrocket the more foreign-born Americans we have.
And it’s fantastic for the Democrats, who are well on their way to a permanent majority, so they can completely destroy the last remnants of what was once known as “the land of the free.”
The only ones opposed to our current immigration policies are the people.
But are they going to give John Boehner a job when he’s no longer House speaker, as some big business lobbyist will?
Will they help Marco Rubio run for president on the claim that, as a Cuban, he can appeal to Hispanics? (Fat chance.)
Will they bundle contributions for Eric Cantor’s re-election, as well-heeled donors will?
Will they be enough to re-elect Kevin McCarthy to Congress so he can keep his gold-plated government health insurance?
Will they be the ones writing Darrell Issa’s flattering New York Times obituary?