Senate begins floor debate on comprehensive immigration reform bill

June 10, 2013

capitolThe Washington Post, 6/7/2013

The Senate opened floor debate Friday on a bipartisan proposal to overhaul immigration laws, kicking off a process that chamber leaders hoped would result in a vote on the comprehensive legislation before July 4. “The vast majority of American people want us to move forward on this,” Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said as he made a motion to proceed with the bill.

Referring to opponents of the bill, who have sought to delay deliberations with dozens of amendments, Reid added, “Sometimes in the process we have here, people throw monkey wrenches in, and we can’t move forward as fast as we want.” Leading critics took to the floor to begin making their case against the proposal, which features a 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally, new visas for high-tech and low-skilled workers, increased border security investments and the elimination of some categories of visas for extended family members.

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Op-ed: Immigration reform is a no-brainer to help the economy

April 24, 2013

shutterstock_49320484By Grover Norquist, The Guardian, 4/24/13

People are an asset, not a liability. The United States is the most immigrant-friendly nation in the world and the richest country in the world. This is not a coincidence. Those voices that would make us less immigrant-friendly would make us less successful, less prosperous, and certainly less American.

Today some 11 million “undocumented workers” live in the shadows in the United States. Sixty percent of them crossed the Mexican border or the Canadian border without government approval and 40% arrived by plane and overstayed their visas.

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Editorial: Immigration and Fear

April 22, 2013

shutterstock_10213060The New York Times, 4/20/13

The country is beginning to discuss seriously the most sweeping overhaul of immigration since 1986, with hearings in the Senate last week and this week, and a possible vote by early summer. After years of stalemate, the mood has shifted sharply, with bipartisan Congressional coalitions, business and labor leaders, law-enforcement and religious groups, and a majority of the public united behind a long-delayed overhaul of the crippled system.

Until the bombing came along, the antis were running out of arguments. They cannot rail against “illegals,” since the bill is all about making things legal and upright, with registration, fines and fees. They cannot argue seriously that reform is bad for business: turning a shadow population of anonymous, underpaid laborers into on-the-books employees and taxpayers, with papers and workplace protections, will only help the economy grow. About all they have left is scary aliens.

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Mexicans cautiously welcome US immigration reform, despite long wait

April 18, 2013

IMG_4475Associated Press, 4/17/13

Mexicans reacted with cautious optimism to the immigration reform bill submitted to the U.S. Senate Wednesday, saying that while it proposes a long wait for migrants to gain U.S. citizenship, it at least gives them a stable path to do so.

“There are some people who would like to become citizens right away,” said Ismael Mota Ortega, 48, who heads the Illinois federation of clubs of migrants from the central Mexico state of Zacatecas. “But there are others who see things sensibly, that you have to demonstrate that you can truly be a good citizen, step by step.”

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An Immigration Blueprint

April 17, 2013

us congressThe New York Times, 4/16/13

Huge news from the scorched desert of immigration reform: germination! At last there is a bill, the product of a bipartisan group of senators who have been working on it for months, that promises at least the hope of citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. It is complicated, full of mechanisms and formulas meant to tackle border security, the allocation of visas, methods of employment verification and the much-debated citizenship path.

Twitter analysts spent all day Tuesday parsing just the 17-page outline that was unveiled ahead of the actual bill. There will be much to chew on in coming weeks, but it is worth a moment to marvel at the bill’s mere existence, and at the delicate balancing of competing interests that coaxed this broad set of compromises into being.

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Document: Senate Gang of 8 Immigration Reform Bill (Full Text)

April 17, 2013

shutterstock_49320484Politico, 4/17/13

Senate negotiators released a 844-page bill late Tuesday that aims to make the most substantive changes to immigration laws in nearly three decades. The bipartisan Gang of Eight filed the legislation that would create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrations, overhaul the legal immigration system and beef up border security.

The public roll-out was delayed because of the deadly blasts at the Boston Marathon, but the legislation is certain to spark an emotional debate that will dominate Washington for the remainder of the year. Authors of the the— dubbed The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 — say that it’s the “toughest border security and enforcement measures in U.S. History” in the legislation’s outline.


Immigration bill would be largest such effort ever attempted

April 16, 2013

shutterstock_49320484Los Angeles Times, 4/15/13

After months of negotiations, a bipartisan group of eight senators is poised to offer a sweeping bill to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws this week, taking advantage of a changed political alignment that, for the first time in nearly a generation, appears to have opened the way for comprehensive legislation.

The bill would chart a 13-year path to citizenship for most of the 11 million people in this country without proper legal status, spend billions of dollars more on border security, create new legal guest worker programs for low-income jobs and farm labor, require new verification measures for most companies hiring new workers and significantly expand overall immigration to the U.S. for the next decade, according to an outline obtained by The Times’ Washington bureau.

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Immigration Overhaul Proposal Is Likely to Ignite Fierce Debate

April 16, 2013

barbed wire fenceThe New York Times, 4/16/13

The introduction of sweeping immigration legislation on Tuesday is likely to ignite a months-long battle between those who want citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants and opponents who view such an approach as amnesty.

A bipartisan group of eight senators plans to unveil legislation, drafted largely in secret, that would provide a 13-year path to American citizenship for illegal immigrants who arrived in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, but would demand that tougher border controls be in place first. The legislation is certain to unleash a torrent of attacks from Republican opponents on the immigration overhaul, similar to the kind of criticism that killed an effort supported by President George W. Bush in 2007.

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Senate gang aims for Tuesday announcement

April 12, 2013

capitolPolitico, 4/11/13

The Senate Gang of Eight has completed its member-level negotiations and plans to spend the next few days reviewing the legislation ahead of an announcement early next week, according to senators and aides.

The end of the intensive months-long talks all but guarantees that immigration reform will move forward in the Senate, defying predictions that the issue was too divisive to earn the support of a group that includes Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on the right and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez on the left.

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Op-ed: Focus immigration security on official border crossings

April 12, 2013

Wilson_ChristopherBy Christopher Wilson, The Dallas Morning News, 4/11/13

As the senatorial Gang of Eight finalizes its immigration reform bill, it has become clear that border security will be a key, if contentious, part of any viable immigration proposal. In fact, it remains one of the few sticking points with the potential to derail the whole reform process. Yet despite having so much riding on improving border security, there is no clear definition of the term.

Statistics about drug smuggling, aspiring terrorists and unauthorized immigrants are naturally difficult to collect. In the absence of clear metrics to guide our border strategy and funding, we have given ever more resources to the Border Patrol, which operates in the areas between official border crossings. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the staffing, infrastructure and technology needs of ports of entry themselves, both leaving them less secure and undermining America’s economic competitiveness in the process.

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