June 25, 2013
The Senate signaled its support on Monday for a bipartisan measure strengthening border security in the comprehensive “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill, a sweeping blueprint that promises to overhaul America’s immigration policies for the first time since 1986. The 67-to-27 vote was considered a key test of support for the bill as a whole, as the measure also includes language echoing most other parts of the legislation.
The Senate kept the vote open for a significant amount of time for lawmakers who experienced travel delays due to bad weather in Washington. Some senators did not make it in time. Supporters needed at least 60 votes to move forward with the revised border security provisions, which were drafted partly to boost GOP support for the overall package.
June 21, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor, 6/20/2013
Immigration reform got a substantial boost in the Senate Thursday, as Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota helped craft a compromise proposal on border security that could pave the way for an overwhelming approval of the bill when it comes to a final vote next week.
The amendment, together with a handful of others still under negotiation but whose prospects appear favorable, could push the vote total toward 70 senators. That is something of a magic number for proponents of immigration reform, who think a huge, bipartisan vote in the Senate could compel the House to act. Many Republicans in the House have so far shown little enthusiasm for comprehensive immigration reform. Yet border security has been among the primary stumbling blocks for Republicans, both in the House and Senate, and Senator Corker is confident that his amendment should allay any concerns.
June 21, 2013
The Guardian, 6/21/2013
Conservative efforts to frustrate immigration reform were rebuffed on Thursday, bringing Congress one step closer to legalising the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants in the US. As the battle to pass legislation proved far tougher than many expected, a new group of moderate Republican senators proposed doubling the number of border guards to 40,000 in a “human fence” to secure the southern border with Mexico.
Their border security amendment goes far further than the original “gang of eight” Republican and Democrat senators who introduced immigration reform in April but is thought crucial in persuading more conservative Republicans to accept the proposed amnesty for existing immigrants. Although passage of the bill through the Senate is not in doubt due to a Democratic majority, the debate is on a knife edge in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives after speaker John Boehner insisted he would only allow a vote if a majority of his party caucus were in favour.
June 21, 2013
The Economist, 6/22/2013
EIGHT “carpet shoes” outside Jim Chiltern’s house testify to the frugal innovation of Mexico’s people-smuggling industry. These shoes, bound pieces of denim with soft soles designed to leave no trace in the Arizona desert, have been lost or abandoned by illegal immigrants traversing Mr Chiltern’s 50,000-acre cattle ranch, which stretches to the Mexican border. Mr Chiltern displays them to help convince visitors that, whatever the politicians in Washington may say, America’s southern border is far from secure.
Whether the country gets a long-overdue reform of its immigration system, including a route to citizenship for the 11m illegal migrants now living there, may hinge on this question. The bill currently being debated in the Senate devotes $4.5 billion to border security, including yet more drones, fences and guards with guns. But many Republicans, recalling the multitudes that arrived after Ronald Reagan’s amnesty in 1986, want even more.
June 20, 2013
The Senate’s Gang of Eight and a pair of Republicans are near a deal that would beef up the immigration bill’s border security language and break a major impasse between the two sides, senators and aides say. Democrats and Republicans are beginning to sell the agreement to their respective caucuses, but if the deal holds, it could put immigration legislation on a glide path to pass the Senate by the end of the month by delivering a large, bipartisan majority of votes.
The emerging deal would soften Republican requests for a strict requirement that 90 percent of illegal border crossers be apprehended to hit a “trigger” toward a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but would provide an unprecedented increase in border security funding and officers and a guarantee on finishing the fence along the Southern border, sources said.
June 20, 2013
The New York Times, 6/20/2013
After many months of rival assertions by interested parties, we finally have an authoritative assessment by an impartial referee of the effects of the so-called Gang of Eight senators’ proposed legislation on immigration. On Tuesday, based on work with the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional Budget Office released two reports – one on the direct federal budget impact and one on the broader and longer-run economic effects, with a helpful summary blog post by the office’s director, Douglas Elmendorf).
The assessment is positive. This precise immigration proposal would improve the budget picture and stimulate economic growth. The immediate effects are good and the more lasting effects even better. If anything, the long-run positive effects are likely to be even larger than the C.B.O. is willing to predict, in my assessment. (I’m a member of the office’s Panel of Economic Advisers but I was not involved in any way in this work.)
June 13, 2013
The Atlantic, 6/12/2013
When it comes to immigration reform, Senator Rand Paul says he is only trying to help. Should immigration-reform advocates believe him? On Wednesday, Paul, the Tea Party Republican from Kentucky, stood before a phalanx of cameras and microphones in a Capitol Hill hotel where he’d just given a speech. “I want to vote for immigration reform,” he told the group of reporters. But in order to meet his standards, the bill needed some changes, such as putting it in the hands of Congress to judge whether the border was sufficiently secure.
A number of conservative politicians are using a version of this line. They say they support immigration reform in the abstract, but in practice, the legislation is never good enough. As the immigration debate opened in the Senate on Wednesday, this was the major question facing the bill’s proponents: make the bill more conservative to meet this group’s demands? Or refuse, on the grounds that these right-wingers are never going to support the final bill anyway?
June 11, 2013
The Nation, 6/10/2013
After months of behind-the-scenes haggling and committee work—and really, years and years of organizing, activism and elections—comprehensive immigration reform will have its moment on the big stage of the Senate floor this week. Monday evening, the Senate will hold a roll call vote on a five-year farm bill, and assuming there are no hitches, will then begin floor debate on immigration reform. It will take weeks, but Democrats want the debate wrapped up and a bill passed by the July 1 recess.
As it stands now, the legislation (known officially as Senate bill 744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013) creates a path to citizenship for most—but not all—of the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in America. That’s a huge step forward, and Congress hasn’t seriously debated anything like it since 1986. But it also spends $5.5 billion over ten years on border security, on top of the $18 billion the country spends annually on border enforcement, more than all other law enforcement activities combines. The ACLU warns that the legislation “creates the kind of militarized environment along our southern border that is extremely costly, harmful to border communities’ quality of life, and enormously inefficient.”
June 11, 2013
Chicago Sun-Times, 6/11/2013
Let’s be clear: The immigration reform bill on the table is the product of hard compromise, and compromise by definition leaves nobody fully satisfied. But this bill, worked out by four Republican senators and four Democratic senators — the “Gang of Eight” — includes strong measures to secure the nation’s borders from future illegal immigration and creates a cautious 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who arrived here illegally before 2012.
Much of the criticism of the bill at this point, especially on the matter of border security, comes from senators who say they want to improve the bill but really want to kill it. No amount of border policing will ever satisfy them. No path to citizenship will ever impose high enough hurdles. And so the question becomes: Who runs the Republican Party? Reasonable people who understand that our nation’s dysfunctional immigration policies are both bad for America and inhumane? Or conservative activists allergic to compromise?