Washington D.C. -Tonight, President Barack Obama pressed the reset button and laid out his priorities for 2014—and, ultimately, the final leg of his presidency. During the State of the Union address, the President discussed the need to create jobs and greater opportunity for all. He also made it clear that immigration reform and economic recovery go hand-in-hand, and he expects the House of Representatives to make the next move on immigration reform. The President said:
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
Washington D.C. - Yesterday, Speaker of the House John Boehner reassured the far-right wing of the Republican Party and anti-immigrant activists that he would never agree to a conference to hammer out an agreement on a House immigration bill and S. 744, the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill that passed in June. While that statement may have been reassuring to a few die-hard anti-immigration reform activists, it had the opposite effect for the vast majority of Americans. The Speaker’s statement does not stop the clock on the economic, social, and societal costs of doing nothing on immigration. It also does not honor the hard work of Democrats and Republicans who have worked in good faith to pass the Senate bill and negotiate on various fronts in the House.
However, what Speaker Boehner's statement does do is open the door to more protests and public outrage, encourage states to continue to take the lead on immigration policy and leave the administration in the difficult situation of deciding how long they will let Congressional inaction continue before they will intervene. When Congress refuses to act they make themselves less relevant and reinforce the idea that they cannot work constructively to fix our nation's most pressing problems.
Thus, rather than tamp down the flames of reform, the Speaker’s statements will embolden those who will work to fix immigration policy on their own - for better or worse. It’s inevitable that immigration reform will happen it’s just a matter of how much our economy, communities, and the Republican Party will lose in the meantime
Washington D.C. - Today, in an important effort to keep the conversation and momentum on immigration reform moving forward in the House, a group of centrist Democrats introduced their version of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Although the full text has not yet been made available, it is said to be a modification of the bipartisan Senate bill of the same name adopted earlier this year. Among other reported changes, the House bill takes a different path on border security, incorporating a bill introduced by Republican Congressman Mike McCaul which passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Homeland Security in May of 2013. The House sponsors—including Representatives Garcia, Chu, Polis, DelBene, and Horsford—adopted provisions of the McCaul-Thompson bill as a replacement for the costly, controversial “border surge” strategy adopted by the Senate under the Corker-Hoeven amendment.
Substantively, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced today reflects a series of bipartisan policy and political compromises made during deliberations in the Senate. The original co-sponsors represent diverse interests from within the Democratic Party, including the New Democrats Coalition, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
The following is a statement from the American Immigration Council’s Executive Director, Benjamin Johnson:
A recent article in U.S. News and World Report, quoted Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the IPC. The article, titled, "The Republican Party's Impossible Immigration Balancing Act," said:
"When it comes to immigration reform, House Republicans are in an impossible spot: Members are left balancing congressional elections with the GOP's larger 2016 interests, reluctant to hand a Democratic president a victory while hoping to make up ground with the Latino community...
"In order to gain traction with Latino voters, they will have to do more than simply talk about a plan. They will have to enact one, take a comprehensive approach, shed the party's enforcement-only rhetoric and openly consider a path to legalization for the 11 million, an option that many lawmakers have struggled to publicly support. While Republicans nationally need Latino support to win elections, few members from GOP-controlled districts face a high volume of Latino voters back home to put pressure on them. Instead, it's anti-immigration reform activists who pressure sitting members to stay away from anything that resembles legalization for the 11 million.
"The policy solutions to the problem and the political viability of them are potentially miles apart," says Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center, a nonpartisan immigration research group."
Mary Giovagnoli, the Director of the Immigration Policy Center, was quoted in a recent Chicago Sun-Times article titled, "Keeping Immigration Reform Alive."
"“We are going to see it in 2014, a carefully orchestrated dance toward reform,” said Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center. Politicians will have “breathing room after the primaries. We still have a chance at something decent.”
A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is a sticking point for Republicans, understandably since the party already has sent alienated Latino voters fleeing to the open arms of Democrats.
A New York Times article last week pointed out that for many, being able to drive and work legally in the U.S. is a bigger priority than citizenship. “What they really care about is a solution that allows them to overcome their greatest vulnerabilities,” Oscar A. Chacon, executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, told the Times.
Yet, withholding citizenship wouldn’t stand the test of time. As Benito of ICIRR and Giovagnoli noted, such a move would create an official second-class form of residency that runs contrary to the principles of a proud, democratic country."
A recent article in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer cited the IPC's extensive guide to the Senate immigration bill, S.744. The article, titled "Despite calls for action, immigration reform bill's future looks bleak at moment," details the likelihood of the bill passing the House of Representatives.