President Obama has told Senate Democrats he expects Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to pass immigration reform this year, defying predictions the issue is dead for 2014…
“He said we’re then all going to have a challenging conversation,” Kaine added. “He said it was more likely than not the House would do something.”…
“I think our Republican colleagues realize that to be blocking immigration reform is not good for them,” Schumer added.
Most people close to the planning expect votes on four bills by the end of the summer, including one that would give undocumented workers legal status…
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), speaking to local chambers of commerce in San Antonio Thursday, peeled back the curtain on the plans, saying Republicans must help illegal immigrants “come out of the shadows and reintegrate into society.” That would include requiring immigrants learn English, civics, pay taxes and pay a fine — a process that is sure to be decried by opponents as amnesty…
Also, the party is now crafting language that would seek to force President Barack Obama to enforce the totality of any law passed. Republicans say they don’t trust the president after he has unilaterally waved parts of the health care law.
“If you are against the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country, you and your party don’t have a future,” Bloomberg said flatly at a forum on immigration with Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who served in President George W. Bush’s administration…
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who met with Boehner earlier this month, said the speaker is “very committed to getting it done and getting it done this year. He quoted Boehner as saying, “There’s no good time to do it, so let’s just get it done now.’”
Legislation being drafted would reject a “special path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, which was included in the Senate bill, the people familiar with the process said. But it would grant legal status for all illegal immigrants who meet qualifications, allowing them to work and travel without fear of deportation.
The legislation under development also would allow this group to tap into existing paths, available to any newcomer, to gain permanent legal residence, also known as a green card. Once someone has a green card, they are eligible to apply for citizenship.
At the same time, the legislation would make substantial changes to immigration law to clear impediments from those existing paths. Without those changes, illegal immigrants would face big backlogs and requirements that they return to their home countries before applying for a green card.
“The question is, are Democrats willing to kill legalization without a special path to citizenship?” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, which supports immigration reform.
Aguilar pointed to a Pew Hispanic Center poll last month that which found 61 percent of immigrant Latinos believe ending deportations is more important than a path to citizenship.
If Democrats oppose a Republican offer to legalize most undocumented immigrants under the belief that Latino voters will blame the GOP, Aguilar said, “that could backfire.”
Bloomberg, Snyder and Gutierrez said Congress should act on immigration reform even if Republicans won’t agree to the full-scale overhaul that Obama wants. Once a new system is in place, they said, tweaks could more easily be made in future years…
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said advocates would not be able to judge Republican principles without full details of legislation, but he said they might be open to a legal status for immigrants that was not the so-called “special pathway to citizenship” that conservative abhor.
“One can imagine a House no-special-path architecture that meets our principles,” he said.
The immigration reformers that deal directly with the White House remain hopeful the president will take unilateral action if it becomes clear there will be no congressional solution.
“As far as I’m concerned, we have the next five months to get something done, and if nothing gets done, it will be an issue that needs to be addressed by the president,” said Eliseo Medina, the longtime union activist who organized the Fast for Families tents outside the Capitol late last year.
At last week’s Cabinet meeting, Obama kicked his all-by-myself theme into high gear, saying 2014 would be a year of executive actions and orders to advance his agenda wherever he can.
“We are not just going to be waiting for a legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need,” Obama said. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone — and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”
In effect, Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy, and Ryan are hoping that Obama will keep enforcement promises once all the illegal aliens have received an immediate amnesty, in a change from all prior experience.
“Hope and change” duped enough voters to send Obama to the presidency. Apparently, it has now snookered the House GOP leadership into trying to save his floundering presidency.
Legalization without citizenship would split the base and offer few political dividends with the center. The driving force behind many Republicans’ skepticism about an immigration deal is not a fear that illegal immigrants will be granted citizenship; it is a worry that legalization will be traded for empty promises of enforcement. Legalization without citizenship, then, may be too clever by half: It sounds like an equitable splitting of the difference, but it misses the real point of concern for many Americans.
The Obama administration’s cavalier use of executive authority gives many on the right good reason to fear that any promises of enforcement will be broken faster than the president’s guarantee that if you like your health plan you can keep it. Further, the Obamacare rollout has been one example of bureaucratic incompetence after another; what are the odds that new immigration-enforcement rules, which will probably fall far below Obamacare on the president’s list of priorities, will be smoothly applied?
In addition to demoralizing many in the base, legalization without citizenship would probably open Republicans up to further attacks from the left. The same activists, lobbyists, and opportunists who denounce any effort at immigration enforcement as “xenophobic” would, the day after any legalization was signed, turn around and attack Republicans as the party of the anti-immigrant Know Nothings for their opposition to granting citizenship, too. Legalization without citizenship would give Democrats a wonderfully polarizing issue for 2014 and 2016. As Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice and a tireless advocate for “comprehensive immigration reform,” said recently, “reform without citizenship . . . would create a permanent underclass that harkens back to the darkest times in American history.” (Sharry also pledged over the summer to “kick” the posteriors of Republicans if they dared to stop the president’s immigration agenda.) Moreover, while anything can happen in Washington, it is highly likely that legalization without citizenship would eventually lead to citizenship, and most political observers know it. Legalization without citizenship would thus be another set-piece of Beltway Kabuki.
There will be an attempt to describe Speaker Boehner’s “piecemeal” collection of immigration bills as an “enforcement first” arrangement that will prevent another, future illegal wave despite the incentive created by what will be two successive amnesties. Since Democrats and Latino groups would never go for an actual “enforcement first” approach–e.g., enacting universal E-verify, an exit-entry system, building a fence and waiting a few years for legal challenges to peter out**–this claim will necessarily be a fraud, the framing of which will be a key challenge for Boehner & Co.. Presumably just saying “Hey we passed the enforcement part of the bill a week before we passed the amnesty part” won’t do, nor will letting President Obama decide when the enforcement mechanisms are sufficiently “in place.” That means a convoluted debate over “triggers,” the traditional playground for legislative legerdemain.*** Legalizers will try to make the prequisites look tough when they aren’t — certainly nothing that can’t be easily dismantled once the undocumented get their documents. Do not count on the press to correct this misimpression. They’re in the “fool the rubes” camp too…
It’s a sellout. That’s a term I don’t use lightly. Certainly there are plenty of idealistic, principled advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” — including true believers in open borders, advocates of immigrants’ rights, and ethnic champions. Even the employers who are providing the financial muscle behind the amnesty push may sincerely think spoiled American workers just aren’t cutting it anymore, that the economy needs better, cheaper, hungrier immigrants — heaven forbid responsible corporatist roundtablers should have to actually train those spoiled Americans.
But why are the politicians abandoning the economic interests of the country’s basic laborers, and the strong anti-amnesty convictions of their own constituents (in the case of most Republicans), and doing it at such an objectively inauspicious time? It’s hard to deny that cash is doing much of the swaying here. “[A]ll the money is on the side of pushing it,” one pro-amnesty Democratic Congressman boasted–money in the form not only of direct campaign contributions, as promised by Mark Zuckerberg ($50 million) and the Chamber of Commerce, but also future consulting contracts and lobbying positions for those who echo the line that Republicans just have to do this to remain viable. In any case, that latter argument–’We’re not doing it for the money. We’re doing it to save our political hides!’–isn’t exactly an appeal to principle either, is it?
House conservatives crafting their own immigration proposal to vie with a document Speaker John Boehner is poised to release as the GOP’s position on the issue are focusing on enforcement of current laws and providing economic assistance to unemployed Americans before providing legal status to illegal immigrants, officials with knowledge of the deliberations said…
“A couple sets of alternative immigration principles are circulating, putting emphasis on getting Americans back to work before bringing in thousands of guest workers and on enforcing current laws before passing additional ones that the Administration won’t enforce,” the aide told Breitbart News in an email. “Many are concerned about executive overreach and selective enforcement of existing laws. There is also concern that immigration proposals are moving away from the intent of the Constitution and are establishing long term problems.”
In return for making life easier on the debt ceiling for the House leadership, Speaker Boehner should make his own concession: He should announce that he will not bring any immigration legislation to the floor this session. If there’s one thing that could blow up GOP chances for a good 2014, it would be an explosive debate over immigration in the House. The only sure way to avoid such a debate is not to let anything onto the floor in the first place. Once even an innocuous-sounding measure gets passed, then the pressure to go to conference with the loathed Senate bill will be great. And whatever ultimately were to happen, activists would spend months worrying about and agitating against a betrayal by the leadership, business interests would spend months urging such a betrayal, and Republicans would be consumed by infighting and recriminations on an issue that does them no short-term political good. Bringing immigration to the floor insures a circular GOP firing squad, instead of a nicely lined-up one shooting together and in unison at Obamacare and other horrors of big government liberalism. Since there really is no need to act this year on immigration, don’t. Don’t even try.