2 Friends Reach Across the Aisle on Immigration

January 22, 2014

immigration marchThe New York Times, 01/21/2014

The two women might at first seem more like political rivals than a reminder of the way things used to work in Washington.

Esther Olavarria, a Democrat, left Cuba as a child, worked as Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s top immigration lawyer and now holds a post in the White House. Rebecca Tallent, a Republican, left suburban Arizona and became Senator John McCain’s chief of staff, briefly advised Sarah Palin in 2008 and is now a top policy aide to Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio.

But if there is any way to unlock the immigration stalemate in Washington, colleagues say these two might find it.

A decade ago, the two women spent months in marathon back-room deal-making sessions as they repeatedly tried to bring lawmakers together on overhauls that would have given legal status to immigrants, secured the border and opened the country to more legal workers. In the process, they formed a friendship that transcended party affiliation.

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Republicans eye immigration reform after budget deal exposes party rift

December 16, 2013

The Guardian, 12/13/2013

Photo by J Scott Applewhite (AP)Immigration reform has emerged as the next Republican battleground after a high-profile split between party leaders and the Tea Party over budget compromise led to growing expectation of a similar bipartisan deal to legalise America’s 11 million undocumented migrants.

House speaker John Boehner signalled a major break from right-wing conservatives on Thursday when he accused activist groups of losing “all credibility” by opposing his efforts to reach a deal with Democrats over the $1tn federal budget. Heritage Action, a group behind many Tea Party Republicans, issued a testy response on Friday, claiming Boehner was trying to clear the way for immigration reform next year by severing his links with opponents on the right of the party.

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Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform

December 13, 2013

Washington Times, 11/12/13

Joe BidenRepublican leaders in the House already  have said they won’t take up the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate earlier this year. But that didn’t stop Vice President Joseph  R. Biden from guaranteeing Wednesday that, eventually, the Senate measure — and its controversial pathway to citizenship provision — will become  the law of the land.

“We’re going to pass this Senate bill that we’re  talking about here. It’s going to happen,” Mr.  Biden said during an online question-and-answer session, where he and Cecilia Munoz, the White  House’s director of domestic policy, took questions via Twitter and Skype.

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Dems Tell Obama: Pause Deportation If You Want Congress To Act

December 6, 2013

International Business Times, 12/5/2013

immigration marchMore than two dozen Democrats on Thursday sent a letter to President Barack Obama, calling on him to help restart the immigration reform debate in Congress by suspending deportation. They also asked the nation’s chief executive to go a step further and expand “deferred action,” a program that would grant these immigrants reprieve.

The lawmakers’ formal request to the president came more than a week after he was heckled at a California event by an immigrant who asked that Obama use his executive power to protect immigrants from the laws under what they describe as a broken system.

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House Democrat to join immigration fast

November 20, 2013

Democrat DonkeyPolitico, 11/19/2013

Several activists have been fasting on the National Mall for more than a week to bring attention to the push for comprehensive immigration reform – and a Democratic lawmaker is about to join their cause.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in an interview Tuesday that she’ll fast for one day to mark solidarity with the activists, who are trying to highlight the effect of U.S. immigration laws on families in their “Fast for Families” initiative. The fast began on Nov. 12 and the fasters have each lost 10 pounds so far, organizers said.

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Pelosi: Votes are there to pass immigration reform

October 30, 2013

Nancy Pelosi

The Washington Times, 10/29/2013

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday  there  is a bipartisan majority in the House  of Representatives ready to pass a  comprehensive immigration overhaul  bill, but she may never get the  chance to prove it if GOP Speaker John A. Boehner doesn’t bring a  vote in the Republican-lead House.

“With 28 Republicans having publicly expressed support for a path  to  citizenship, we believe the votes are there on a bipartisan basis to  pass a  bill,” she wrote on Facebook. “It’s just a  question whether Speaker Boehner can  muster the will to schedule a vote.”

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Luis Gutierrez: Some Dems Say Not To Work With GOP On Immigration

October 28, 2013

Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill

The Huffington Post, 10/25/2013

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said this week that some Democrats are trying to undermine his and others’ work with Republicans on immigration, just so they can keep the issue for a political edge.

“When someone does reach across the aisle to say, ‘Hey, let’s work on this issue together,’ what do we get? ‘Hey, why are you helping them?’” he said on the House floor Wednesday, explaining what he hears from other Democrats. “I’ve heard it. When I stood with [Reps.] David Valadao [R-Calif.] or Paul Ryan [R-Wis.] to say immigration reform is an objective we can reach in a bipartisan manner, I heard from the Democrats, ‘Stop working with them, we’re trying to defeat them.’”

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