House Democrats need 27 signatures to force vote on comprehensive immigration reform bill

April 16, 2014

shutterstock_93480406The Washington Post, 5/15/14

House Democrats are renewing their push for a vote on a proposed comprehensive immigration reform package, vowing Tuesday to refocus efforts on pressuring Republicans to sign onto a discharge petition that would force a vote on the legislation.

The immigration reform push is the third recent attempt by Republicans to leverage a discharge petition — a procedural tactic that allows the majority of House members to supersede the will of the House leadership and bring a bill to the floor — in an attempt to force a vote on a piece of legislation that they support.

House Democrats say they currently have 191 signatures — all Democrats — on the petition, and that they will recommit to pressure Republican lawmakers who have said previously that they would support comprehensive immigration reform. The petition must get 218 signatures to force a vote on the legislation.

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Democrat Says Immigration Reform Has Stalled Because Of GOP ‘Racism’

April 15, 2014

Obama-immigration-reformFox News Latino, 4/14/14

A lawmaker who heads a House committee to elect Democrats blamed the country’s failure to pass immigration reform on Republican “racism.” Rep. Steve Israel’s comments are in line with those from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi earlier this week, in which she blamed racial issues for the GOP’s failure to act on comprehensive immigration legislation. Asked about Pelosi’s comments, New York’s Israel said he agreed with her assessment.

“To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism. And that’s unfortunate,” said Israel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Frustration is mounting among the House’s Democratic minority and immigration activists about Republicans’ refusal to act on a far-reaching immigration bill passed by the Senate last year. The Senate bill would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally and tighten border security.

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Playing politics over chance to honor Cesar Chavez

April 8, 2014

Migrant California vineyardMercury News, 4/5/14

It’s a shame that Republicans blocked a resolution calling for the Senate to honor the legacy of Chicano icon Cesar Chavez. But though the GOP looks petty and downright stupid for not allowing a purely symbolic commemoration honoring the history-changing labor leader, the Democrats look sort of clueless themselves for not letting the Republicans add their say to the resolution.

According to news reports, Republicans said they would have allowed the resolution to pass if Democrats had accepted additional language recognizing that Chavez supported strict enforcement of immigration laws in order to help protect American workers’ wages. Democrats refused to agree to those additions. “It is an injustice to his memory,” the Washington Times quoted Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who has introduced the resolution eight consecutive years to no avail. He claimed Republicans were trying to mix the immigration debate with a commemorative resolution.

Menendez is right: The Republicans were playing politics — just like the Democrats. Why, exactly, is it an injustice to Chavez’s memory to note that he was against illegal immigration because it undermined the bargaining power of U.S.-born and legal immigrant workers? It’s not like this is news.

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Bill would subject Border Patrol to greater oversight

March 18, 2014

United_States_Border_Patrol_MexicoFox News Latino, 3/17/14

A pair of congressmen representing districts on the Mexican border are promoting a bill that would subject Department of Homeland Security agencies, including the Border Patrol, to greater oversight and accountability. The Border Accountability and Stakeholder Engagement Act will be introduced late this week or early next week by Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke and Republican Steve Pearce of New Mexico.

Its goal is to create mechanisms for monitoring, checking and evaluating the actions of federal agents. John Meza, spokesman for O’Rourke, told Efe on Monday that the bill seeks to create an independent Commission of Border Supervision and an ombud with sufficient authority to investigate the use of deadly force and the search procedures employed at ports of entry.

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Senate Republican Leader Predicts No Immigration Reform In 2014

February 5, 2014

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants 2 participate in march for Immigrants and Mexicans protesting against Illegal Immigration reform by U.S. Congress, Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 2006Fox News Latino, 2/4/14

One of the highest ranking Republicans in Congress joined the chorus of pessimism about the likelihood of an immigration reform bill passing any time this year. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said on Tuesday that the chances are remote for an agreement between the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a majority, and the House of Representatives, where the GOP holds say, happening in 2014 on the highly charged issue of immigration.

His predictions come on the heels of a series of generally skeptical comments by Republicans leaders on the prospects for passage this year of an immigration reform bill. He based his comment on the leap years apart that both chambers are on various aspects of immigration reform.

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With an immigration deal possible, advocates mount new push to end deportations

February 4, 2014

shutterstock_54084703The Washington Post, 2/4/14

New momentum in Congress for a broad overhaul of border-control laws has prompted White House allies to demand that President Obama halt deportations of millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom would be allowed to remain in the country under a legislative deal.

The advocates, including the AFL-CIO and pro-immigration groups, argue that Obama should use his executive authority to expand a 2012 decision that halted deportations of young people brought to the United States illegally by their parents. The administration’s aggressive approach to enforcement — which has resulted in nearly 2 million deportations during Obama’s tenure — makes little sense at a time when Congress could be on the verge of providing legal relief, advocates say.

The push places the White House in a difficult political position as it attempts to negotiate with a House Republican caucus sharply divided on immigration. Leading conservatives said over the weekend that the chief impediment to a deal is their distrust that Obama would enforce new border-security provisions if a large portion of the nation’s 11.7 million illegal immigrants are granted legal status.

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How immigration reform is shaping up to affect entrepreneurs, business owners

February 4, 2014

US Capitol domeThe Washington Post, 2/2/14

Republicans and Democrats in Congress remain worlds apart on most of the items on the president’s agenda this year — but when it comes to overhauling the nation’s immigration rules, they seem to have found some common ground this past week. And if the talks become bills and those bills become law, based on the areas in which the two sides currently agree, business owners could be in store for significant changes to the way they can recruit and hire new workers.

In their newly released outline of principles for immigration reform, for example, House Republicans called for legislation that improves the country’s immigration system by allocating work visas based on demand from employers, rather than a random lottery system or applicants’ family ties in the United States.

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Will a Democratic U-turn promote immigration reform?

January 29, 2014

shutterstock_52513291Washington Post, 1/29/14

The more deliberate the GOP House has been on immigration reform and the more its leadership has strained to differentiate its position from the Gang of Eight, the more Democrats are sounding accommodating about immigration reform. We can ponder the reasons. Maybe the Senate Democrats are desperate for an achievement. Maybe the White House and Congress realize they are heading for a drubbing in November unless they accomplish something which pleases the Democratic base. Or maybe, they understand they may lose the Senate and now is the best time to get a bill to their liking.

Nevertheless, it is surprising to many conservative pro-immigration reformers that GOP talk about a bill that legalizes but does not grant a “special pathway” to citizenship has not been rejected out of hand.

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Op Ed: To fix Washington, Look to Mexico

October 18, 2013

Christian Science Monitor, 10/17/2013

By Carlos Heredia

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoMexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto’s political grand bargain among rival parties has helped usher in long-needed reforms. The US has something to learn from Mexico’s willingness to put country ahead of party.

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Comprehensive Immigration Reform: The Cost of Doing Nothing Is Too High for Women and Children

October 2, 2013

The Huffington Post, 9/30/13

Advocates for immigrant rights march in Dallas

Three months have passed since the Senate’s historic and bipartisan passage of S.744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. Now it’s the House of Representatives’ turn to act. So far, the House has not made much progress towards passing a comprehensive bill that includes a pathway to citizenship, leaving millions of immigrant women, children and families in limbo.

Families are waiting for immigration reform that upholds our basic American values of due process and fairness. Fairness requires something as simple as making it possible for parents who are detained to meaningfully participate in the child custody proceedings of their children. Fairness would allow immigration judges to make case-by-case decisions when family unity is at stake, which our current law forbids in certain deportation cases.

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