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  1. Are Republicans Running Away From Their Immigration "Principles"? By Roger Algase

    Almost as soon as they came out with their enforcement-first, legalization-last immigration manifesto, also known as "Principles" or "Standards", the House Republican leaders appear to be running away from this document out of fear of retaliation by their irate white supremacist Tea Party base.

    POLITICO reports on February 2 that Paul Ryan (R-Wis), in a Sunday TV interview, not only reiterated the House GOP approach of enforcement before "amnesty" (the Tea Party's word for "legalization") but said that the whole question of whether the president would get an immigration bill to sign this year is "in doubt". See Paul Ryan won't commit to immigration action this year.

    In other words, there is good reason to believe that the House Republicans' widely heralded immigration reform "Principles" or "Standards" were not meant to be a basis for action, or even discussion, but only a meaningless public relations gesture to try to fool Latinos and other pro-immigrant communities into thinking that the GOP leaders were open to reform and willing to consider it seriously.

    But even if this manifesto was originally meant to be a a basis for discussion in good faith, the Republican leaders are running away from it faster than the anti-immigrant bigots in their party's base can say "boo!"

    The only realistic conclusion is that the Tea Party is still in the saddle and holding the reins on the Republican approach to immigration reform.

    Updated 02-03-2014 at 05:47 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. GOP Analyst Says Immigration "Principles" May Only Be PR Stunt. By Roger Algase

    The January 31 Immigration Daily editorial has some well-justified harsh comments about the latest article by Sean Trende, a Republican political analyst who opposes immigration reform as bad, not as policy, but for the political chances of his party. The ID editorial calls Trende a "traitor" to his own party for trying to lead it down the path of exclusiveness by writing off the Hispanic vote, something that will doom its long term chances of remaining a national party.

    Anyone reading Trende's article, On Immigration, What Are The Republicans Thinking? (Real Clear Politics, January 31) can only be appalled by its cynicism. There is nothing in it at all about doing what is best for America. Nor is there anything about the human cost of continuing mass deportations of millions of Latino and other minority immigrants, or the economic cost of turning away our best educated and most talented immigrants.

    Trende is only concerned about appeasing the GOP's intolerant white base and avoiding what he sees as a potential civil war over immigration within his party that could cost it a potential "landslide" in 2014. I am not a Republican political analyst and I am not concerned with what Trende thinks will help his party win elections - even though I agree that writing off the Latino vote or hoping that there are "other" ways to attract Latino voters without supporting immigration reform is simply delusional.

    But the most significant part of Trende's article is in his discussion of the (in his view, flawed) reasons why Republicans might be in favor of some sort of reform proposal.

    In his fourth reason, This is a PR push Trende writes:

    "Another option... is that this [supporting reform] is mostly a public relations push for Republicans. The idea would be that they would pass something with some sort of 'poison pill' in it that the Democrats wouldn't swallow. This would allow them [the Republicans] to push back on the 'Party of No' theme before the election. Moreover this would give them something to advertise for 2016 as the official position for 2017."

    Much as I would hate to find myself in the same company with Sean Trende, I think that the above is an excellent and very accurate summary of the just-released Republican "Principles" on immigration reform. This is for reasons that I have written about in more detail in my own January 31 Immigration Daily "blogging", and in my comment to an article on this topic by two of the most incisive and respected writers on immigration to be found anywhere, Gary Endelman and Cyrus Mehta, in that same ID issue.

    Trende continues, however, into territory that is so covered with cynicism that even I, with my own deep skepticism about the the Republicans' motives on immigration reform, have to struggle to follow him:

    "I think this is getting close, and at least has an element of truth about it. But you still encounter the problem that Democrats might decide there's no such thing as a poison pill here, within reason, and figure that they can fix any issues with the immigration system further down the line and call Republicans' bluff by passing whatever comes out of the House."

    Here, Trende gives away the Republicans' deepest fear: that no matter how outrageous their poison pills might be, immigration supporters might agree to them anyway and something associated with the word "reform" might actually pass and become law, causing the Republicans' right wing anti-immigrant base to sit out the 2014 election.

    He also warns that if the Democrats agree to legalization without a pathway to citizenship, they will not only have succeeded in passing an immigration bill, but will have the Republicans' insistence on "second-class citizenship" to use as an election issue.

    It is interesting to note here that the pro-reform side is not the only one that exaggerates the importance of citizenship issue. Trende is making the same mistake as many immigration supporters are doing.

    As I have pointed out in my previous comments, the real issue in reform is not citizenship, but legalization, i.e. relief from deportation together with work permission, for 11 million people.

    This is what the intolerant Republican base is denouncing as "amnesty". This is what killed reform in 2007 and stalled it in the House last year.

    If the only thing holding up reform were disagreement over the "special" pathway to citizenship, we would most likely already have reform, because the Democrats have almost unanimously expressed their willingness to cave on this issue in order to get an agreement. (And Trende is also correct in pointing out that this could be fixed later on by a Democratic majority in Congress.)

    But Trende has not given his fellow Republicans enough "credit" for their ingenuity in coming up with immigration poison pills. True, a poison pill on citizenship would probably not be enough to derail reform. But this is far from being the only poison pill implied in the House Republican "Principles" and in recent statements by leaders such as Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI).

    There are three even more devastating poison pills in the House Republicans' proposals: 1) overturning Arizona v. US by giving back bigoted state and local legislatures and officials power over immigration enforcement which the Supreme Court took away in 2012; 2) taking away the president's executive power to grant relief from deportation, which the Supreme Court also recognized and re-affirmed in the Arizona decision; and, 3) making legalization conditional on impossible to achieve enforcement "triggers" and financial requirements by the legalization applicants themselves.

    Even if, unbelievably, immigration supporters were to agree to all of these House GOP poison pills, the history of immigration reform negotiations over the past year shows that, almost inevitably, there would be others. I have written about this in my recent comment about the moving Republican immigration reform goalposts.

    Sean Trende, don't worry. The House GOP leaders are ahead of you on this one. They appear determined to make sure that there will always be enough poison pills to stop immigration reform from becoming law, no matter how much the pro-immigrant side is willing to give in.

    Updated 02-01-2014 at 09:52 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. House GOP Releases "Principles" for More Immigration Enforcement. By Roger Algase

    The House GOP leaders announced their long awaited "Principles" for immigration reform on January 30. Predictably, this has caused a lot of excitement among immigration reform advocates and in the media, because the principles include a way for people who are "living and working here illegally" to "get right with the law" and "live legally without fear in the US".

    This is certain to be denounced as "amnesty" by the Tea Party bigots and the hate groups which have not changed their demands for mass expulsion of millions of Latino and other brown immigrants over the years. Anything that makes FAIR, Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA and Heritage Action angry is something that immigration advocates have good reason to cheer about.

    But focusing on this support for legalization - in "principle" - is reading the GOP document backwards, literally. Why? Because legalization comes at the end of the Republicans' manifesto. It is also conditioned on harsh and perhaps impossible requirements for many people such as paying back taxes and showing ability to support themselves and their families without access to public benefits.

    How can people who are presently not allowed to work or may even be in detention awaiting deportation meet those requirements?

    But that is not even the main problem with the Republican "Principles". The biggest problem is with what comes first. I quote:

    "Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First."

    And also look at what comes last:

    "Finally, none of this [legalization] can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulflll our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced."

    There it is. Enforcement, which means, among other things, even more deportations, is the alpha and omega (beginning and the end) of the GOP immigration "Principles" manifesto.

    Under these conditions, does it really matter very much what is in between?

    The purpose of the "Principles" seems to be the same as what the House Republican leaders have had as their objective ever since the Senate passed its CIR bill last June. This has been pretending to support reform in "principle" while reassuring the party's white anti-immigrant base that the GOP doesn't intend to implement legalization (let alone citizenship) for millions of non-white immigrants - now or ever.

    The entire document can be accessed at the January 30 Huffington Post: GOP Reveals Immigration Reform Principles


    Roger Algase is a New York attorney and a Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has devoted his practice to helping professional and business immigrants overcome the obstacles of our complicated immigration system.

    He has made it possible for H-1B, O-1/EB-1 extraordinary ability, Labor Certification and marriage-based immigrants, among others, from many parts of the world, to achieve their goals, develop their careers and build a firm foundation for their lives in America. His email address is

    Updated 01-31-2014 at 08:49 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. House GOP Immigration Vote Not Expected For Several More Months. By Roger Algase

    POLITICO reports on January 30 that the House Republicans are not expected to vote on immigration reform anytime soon, according to the Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. See: Greg Walden: No House immigration vote soon.

    According to Walden (R-Ore.) there is little chance of a vote for at least several months: The reason:

    "By the time you get to June, most of them [the primaries] are behind you."

    Is it just barely possible that the reason why the House GOP leaders didn't vote on reform last year and are only promising to come up "principles" now (whatever that means) is because their members are terrified of Tea Party primary challenges?

    Is everything else that has been raised as an objection to reform or reason for postponing action, from Benghazi and Syria to "border security", "pathway to citizenship" and executive action, to name only a few of the many excuses for letting reform languish, nothing more than a smoke screen for pandering to the anti-immigrant white supremacists in the Republican base?

    Of course, I wouldn't want to sound cynical.

    Updated 01-30-2014 at 04:12 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. President Threatens Executive Action, but not on Immigration - yet. By Roger Algase

    In his January 28 State of the Union address, President Obama threatened to use his executive powers on several issues if Congress doesn't act, but, notably, left immigration off the list. He also said little about immigration reform in general, except to urge Congress to get it done.

    POLITICO explains the reason for this softer approach in its January 29 article: Republicans bash Obama for overstepping bounds:

    "The president left Congress some breathing room on this issue, devoting little time in his address to immigration reform."

    But, by asserting his right to use executive powers on other issues, the president, at least indirectly, made clear that if the House continues with its obstruction of immigration reform, further administrative action in this area too will not be off the table.

    At least let us hope not.

    Updated 01-29-2014 at 03:53 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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