Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on Wednesday warned his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives that if they don’t hold a vote on immigration reform before the July 4 recess President Barack Obama will take matters into his own hands. “There are concrete ways within existing law to help keep families together and spare U.S. citizens from losing their wives and their husbands and their children to deportation,” Gutierrez said in a speech on the House floor.
Republican leaders said Sunday that their immigration plan centers around tightening border security before looking at opportunities for legal residency, while the Obama aministration said it can’t support a plan that doesn’t include a path to citizenship. “We don’t trust the president to enforce the law,” Rep. Paul Ryan , Wisconsin Republican, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “First, we have to secure the border, have interior enforcement, which is a worker verification system, a visa tracking program. Those things have to be in law, in practice and independently verified before the rest of the law can occur.”
Without Democratic support to secure the border, Mr. Ryan said getting a bill on the president’s desk this year is “clearly in doubt.” In a brief document circulated at the GOP policy retreat last week in Maryland, Republicans unveiled a plan to move forward on immigration reform, including changing the system to make it more difficult for immigrants to move their families to America, closing the gates to future illegal immigrants and giving young illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens.
The failure of Congress and the White House to address the country’s immigration problems drew fire from a prominent human rights watchdog this week — again. Human Rights Watch criticized the U.S. government in its “World Report 2014,” released Tuesday, for what it called “abuses” related to the incarceration and deportation of undocumented immigrants. The organization echoed similar faults it found with U.S. immigration policy in world reports from past years.
The authors criticize the U.S. government’s human rights record, calling it “marred by abuses related to criminal justice immigration, national security and drug policy.” The report names immigrants and ethnic minorities as among the “most vulnerable members” of U.S. society. The report also notes that U.S. detention centers now hold approximately 400,000 undocumented immigrants each year, with hundreds in solitary confinement.
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.
The White House is trying to dial down the partisan rhetoric on immigration — and it’s asking its allies to do the same.
In meetings with immigration reform advocates, White House officials have said President Barack Obama won’t threaten to take unilateral executive action — at least not yet — and that he wants to give House Republicans some breathing room to try to pass legislation this year, said immigration advocates who have participated in the sessions.
Mexican immigrants are returning home in significant numbers but it’s not mainly due to the tepid U.S. economy, according to a survey released Tuesday. Returning migrants said family and nostalgia drew them back to Mexico, trumping joblessness, health and other concerns.
A historic wave of immigration from Mexico has dried up in recent years. A 2012 report by the Pew Research Center found that net migration to the U.S. from Mexico had reached net zero and was possibly moving in reverse. There are several reasons for the shift, with the struggling U.S. economy and a plummeting birth rate in Mexico at the top of the list.
House Republican leaders are within weeks of releasing their principles for immigration reform — a blueprint that will detail positions on everything from border security to legal status.
The document, which has been kept under wraps until now, will call for beefed-up border security and interior enforcement, a worker verification system for employers and earned legal status for the nation’s undocumented immigrants, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions. It will also call for reforms to visa programs and a system to track those in the country legally.
Seeking to make an overhaul of immigration laws a priority, House Speaker John A. Boehner vowed Wednesday that he would soon release a document of conservative “principles” on the issue intended to prod Republicans to pass a series of bills this year.
The high-profile promise from the Ohio Republican, who is drafting a one-page list with his leadership team, comes as he is eager to press ahead on a topic that is important to his party’s political future. But the speaker faces continued resistance from powerful conservative groups and an intractable flank of House Republicans who oppose citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
By: Jeb Bush
As our members of Congress head home to enjoy the holiday recess and start of the New Year, I look back at all the progress we’ve made on immigration in 2013 — building a nationwide coalition of leaders who carry a bible, wear a badge or own a business — and I look forward to what 2014 holds in store for reform.
Wide acknowledgement from Republican House leadership — and support among Republican constituents — shows that immigration reform is definitely not a “dead” issue, but one with great opportunity in 2014.
Last week Mexico’s Congress approved a bill to end a seven-decade long state oil monopoly. In coming years foreign companies could invest as much as $20 billion a year in Mexico’s oil sector, thanks to new rules that will allow production sharing.
Although the energy reform bill, spearheaded by Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto during his first year in office, has been vociferously opposed by Mexico’s left, the bill has the backing of Peña’s centrist PRI party as well as the right-of-center party of former President Felipe Calderon. Together the PRI and the PAN had enough votes to push the bill through Congress, where it was approved 353-134.