Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

Posts in "Immigration"

February 4, 2014

Go ‘Small’ on Immigration | Kondracke

Next to achieving Middle East peace, the hardest thing in the world seems to be passing a law to repair what everyone agrees is a “broken” immigration system. But there’s a chance, if Republicans and Democrats think not big but small.

The just-unveiled House Republican leadership document, “Standards for Immigration Reform” has part of a good idea — don’t even consider a “comprehensive” bill like the Senate’s bipartisan monstrosity.

Comprehensive reform would be great in theory — and might have been possible as either George W. Bush’s or Barack Obama’s first order of business — but right-wing anti-“amnesty,” “enforcement first” forces won’t allow anything to pass that isn’t punitive, restrictive and enormously expensive.

And that’s what the Senate bill is. It will cost probably $100 billion to build a wall across the whole Southern border and set up a national electronic status verification system covering every worker in the country.

And, it will invite illegal residents to identify themselves to authorities, then run through possibly 16 years of hoops to get a shot at citizenship, while failure to get through a hoop (say, proving continuous employment) could mean deportation.

Even the House GOP “step by step” approach isn’t likely to get through Congress. Partly that’s because some Republicans don’t want to interfere with the party’s anti-Obamacare, election-year message. Meantime, libertarians (and civil libertarians) fear that requiring every American to carry a national “biometric” ID card is Big Brotherism. And, ultra-restrictionists in the party think that giving any legal status to the undocumented is “amnesty.”

Ironically, Obama has set new records for border enhancement, deportations and “silent deportations” using federal databases to deny employment to the undocumented. He’s getting grief from Latino activists and his liberal base — but zero credit from Republicans.

He and Democrats certainly aren’t going to support a bill — such as House Republicans seem to be moving toward — that denies illegal immigrants any chance to become U.S. citizens, creating a “second class” system some have likened to apartheid.

A better answer is to think even smaller: to find elements of immigration reform with enough appeal to pass, without elements that might sink the whole process.

For instance: agribusiness and the United Farm Workers agree on the AgJOBS Act, a bill that would enable undocumented farm workers now in the U.S. to earn green cards and would allow in foreign guest workers who’d have to go home when the crops are picked.

Both Democrats and (many, if not most) Republicans agree that young people brought to this country as children and raised as Americans ought to be able to become citizens. So the DREAM Act ought to make it as part of “small” reform legislation.

Both parties also agree we need more highly skilled workers and should allow foreign science graduates to stay in the U.S. if they choose.

And, to satisfy “enforcement first” types, the package could include experiments in biometric identification for guest workers and persons coming in on visas — plus an electronic status verification system to track them, but not IDs and electronic tracking for every person in the country who applies for a job.

Granted, this “small” reform package would not address the plight of most adults here illegally. It’s terrible that they have to live their lives “in the shadows,” but the polarized American political system just can’t solve their situation now.

The bottom line: Congress should get a few sensible, necessary things done. Fix part of what’s broken. Politically, that will be hard enough.

January 27, 2014

Key Moments From Obama’s State of the Union Addresses (Video)

Watch Roll Call’s key moments from President Barack Obama’s five State of the Union addresses, including criticism of the Supreme Court, hammering Wall Street banks and pushing for immigration and gun reform.

December 23, 2013

The Best (or Worst) of Congress in 2013 (Video)

The first session of the 113th Congress — the least productive in modern times — will be remembered for what it did, and did not, accomplish.

An immigration overhaul, gun control and health care mixed with “calves the size of cantaloupes,” “Alice in Wonderland” and cocaine. Together, it is the best and worst of the year that was, wrapped into one.

July 11, 2013

A Deal on Immigration Is Still Possible, if Both Sides Back Off

The chances passing a sensible immigration bill in this Congress appear to be next to zero. But, as with the endless search for Middle East peace, it’s a cause worth pursuing. And, conceivably, there’s a deal to be had.

The Senate’s comprehensive bill is a monstrosity compared to what an ideal bill would look like, especially calling for spending nearly $50 billion militarizing our border with Mexico to secure the votes of a measly 14 GOP senators.

Mexico is a friendly country, illegal immigration is at a 40-year low and the U.S. border patrol has been doubled and redoubled, but the Senate bill still calls for building a Berlin Wall, patrolling it with drones and re-doubling the border patrol yet again — and still the measure, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will reduce illegal immigration by only a third to a half.

And while they’d be instantly legalized, only half or less of the 11 million residents here illegally would be able to attain U.S. citizenship — after a 13 year wait! Full story

April 15, 2013

Red-State Utah Offers an Object Lesson on Immigration

ST. GEORGE, Utah — This state is about as conservative as there is, yet it has some of the most sensible immigration laws in the country. Its record is a challenge to Republicans in Congress — and to the Obama administration, which isn’t letting the state go as far as it would like.

Remember all the 2008 Democratic-primary fuss about whether undocumented (or illegal) immigrants should be able to get driver’s licenses? Utah solved the problem by granting them Driver Privilege Cards, which can’t be used as identification at airports but do entitle holders to be able to buy auto insurance. Full story

April 5, 2013

Where’s Plan B on Immigration? Better Have One Soon

There’s nothing I’d like more than to see comprehensive immigration reform pass this year, but those who want to repair this broken system ought to quietly concoct a less-than-comprehensive Plan B just in case.

That’s because a comprehensive bill granting a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented residents of the United States is likely to be weighed down with so many conditions and complexities — waiting periods, proofs of taxes paid and years worked, denials of public benefits, border security certifications — that it may not do much for most of the people it’s designed to help.

And it will be the target of so much flak that it may bring down other reform provisions with it.

By all means, the Senate and House gangs of eight trying to come up with a comprehensive bill should see how far they can get. Full story

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