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  1. Goodlatte Predicts Immigration Legislation Will Pass in 2014

    by , 12-12-2013 at 10:48 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    I've blogged before that while I was pretty disappointed that Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was made chairman of the Judiciary Committee (he had the highest anti-immigration rating in Congress), he's been surprisingly reasonable and seems genuinely interested in moving forward some decent proposals that will get at many of the major issues.

    Some in the media - particularly those who don't cover immigration closely - have pronounced immigration reform dead multiple times. And while I regularly push for action sooner, I also am not interpreting a lack of action now to mean that reform is dead. I suspect that we're going to see more committee action in the first part of 2014 and the more difficult full house votes to take place after we get closer to the end of the Republican primary season.

    Bob Goodlatte talked to reporters yesterday and had some interesting things to say. According to National Journal:

    The House speaker's statement [that the House would not conference on S.744] gives the committee free rein to put together an immigration package on its own schedule and terms without the pressure of matching the Senate bill, something of a rarity at a time when many major issues are grabbed up by the chamber's top leaders.

    "That gives us more latitude to have the discussions that need to take place," said committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. "We've been hard at work on that throughout the year. We produced several bills. We're working on several more."

    Yet it also leaves Goodlatte, a former immigration attorney, picking his way through a tangled issue with little in the way of a map. Throughout 2013, he has stubbornly stuck to his plan to consider smaller immigration issues separately and deliberately, even as lobbyists and activists were buzzing about the Senate's massive bill and the House's bipartisan "gang" of members who were working on separate legislation.

    It was an approach that drew criticism, with many saying immigration reform would be buried in the House, never to emerge. Not so, says Goodlatte. "You shouldn't just use the past tense here, because this is an issue that's going to go on for a while," he said.
  2. Policewoman Resigns After Learning She's Unlawfully Present

    by , 12-12-2013 at 10:28 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    An Arizona police detective resigned after learning that her family was not telling her the truth when they said she was born in the US. The truth was that she was born in Mexico and brought to the country as an infant. The 42 year old Carmen Figueroa only learned of her true status earlier this year.

    If you think this is incredible, I've actually had several people come to me over the years with similar stories. One of the most memorable was a young man who came to the US with his parent on a tourist visa at two years old. He learned his status when he graduated dental school and needed to get a birth certificate to apply for a license. His parents confessed to him at that point and were it not for the fact that he had already married an American, he might have faced deportation. That case was the basis for a television script for an episode on a popular legal drama written by a friend.

    These cases should remind people that not only are many DREAMers lacking in culpability for their status, some have gone much of their lives not ever realizing they lack status. It's truly cruel to suggest that these folks be deported. In the case of Ms. Figueroa, she is NOT eligible for DACA or the DREAM Act because she is too old. That's a problem with the law. If someone came as an infant to the US and has lived in the US for nearly 40 years, why would we sent her home.
  3. 1500 Pro-Immigration Activists Hold Vigils in 200 House Republicans' Offices

    by , 12-12-2013 at 09:49 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    Seven years ago, I bemoaned the fact that we were being whipped by anti-immigrant groups in advocacy on immigration reform. In 2013, it's exactly the opposite. Anti-immigrant groups are seemingly absent from the debate (with the exception of cranky comment writers on news service web sites). Pro-immigration advocacy groups - and there are so many that are active this year that I won't bother naming them - have simply amazed me with the work they're doing. Whether it's social media campaigns, visits with congressional offices, relentlessly engaging with journalists to keep immigration reform in the news or more dramatic civil protest actions like hunger strikes or sit ins in congressional offices, no one can say that the pro-immigration side hasn't been working like crazy to get an immigration bill passed.

    In fact, the pro-immigration advocacy is now a movement the likes of which the US has seen rarely in recent years. Perhaps the anti-war protests during the Bush years, the environmental movement in the early 90s and - yes - the Tea Party movement that started in 2009 are the closest examples in the last quarter century.

    Today's latest action involved 1,500 activists who staged vigils in 200 congressional offices in the House office buildings in Washington. I followed the activity on Twitter and live streams that America's Voice had on its web site. While some pro-immigration folks will criticize the protesters for being too "in your face." The gadfly approach is one that might not make everyone comfortable, but has the desired effect of reminding members of Congress that they are being watched closely and making the immigration issue go away by simply ignoring it is not an option.

    I also learned in 2006 and 2007 that the groups that make the most noise - whether they have large numbers of people on their side or not - make a big difference. Anti-immigrant groups were able to flood the Capitol with faxes and phone calls while pro-immigration groups found themselves outnumbered sometimes by a 100-1. And all the evidence pointed to their being just a small percentage of the electorate that strongly agreed with the anti-immigrants.

    Pro-immigration groups have always had large numbers of people on their side. There are millions of Americans who have close relatives or friends with immigration problems and public opinion has been pretty positive to the idea of comprehensive immigration reform. If the pro-immigration groups, which have the advantage of having millions more people on their side, could just get organized, then maybe they could even things up.

    Well, boy have they made up for the deficiencies of 2006-2007. This evening Rachel Maddow said that the immigrant activists should have been selected as Person of the Year as opposed to Pope Francis. Maybe that is a bit much, but it's pretty clear that they're shaking up Washington and 2014 is going to be a VERY interesting year for immigration in large part thanks to them.
  4. TRAC Reports that Fewer and Fewer Criminals are Being Deported

    by , 12-12-2013 at 10:43 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Here are the latest statistics from Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration:

    Alleged criminal activity continues to turn up less and less often as the basis for new Immigration Court filings seeking removal orders. So far in fiscal year 2014, only 13.5 percent of individuals have been alleged to be removable based on criminal activity, according to the latest case-by-case court records through November 2013 obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. This is down from 14.2 percent during FY 2013 and 15.5 percent in FY 2012.

    An even smaller proportion -- 3.6 percent, fewer than one out of twenty-five -- have been charged under aggravated felony provisions so far this fiscal year.

    Click here for the complete breakdown.

    Updated 12-12-2013 at 10:54 AM by MKolken

  5. Does Immigration Reform Have a Chance in 2014? By Roger Algase

    Does immigration reform have any chance in 2014? One of the best comments I have run across on this question is a November 12 article on TPM DC by Sahil Kapur called GOP Nixes Immigration Reform In 2013 - and Probably 2014 too.

    (Sorry, I do not have a link - I suggest using Google to access this excellent article.)

    Kapur's view is pessimistic, but appears to be closely anchored in reality. He writes:

    "Even if they found the time, voting on immigration in 2014 would be painful for House GOP leaders, revealing profound splits within the party over an extremely emotional issue. There's no indication that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who likes party unity and has little control of his conference as it is, has the appetite for this, particularly when there's no consensus among Republicans on how to move forward."

    Kapur continues:

    "House GOP leaders have been slowly dimming the chances of passing immigration reform, cautious to make sure that pro-reformers couldn't pinpoint one moment at
    scious or not, which the GOP scuttled it. The approach, conscious or not, has been to gradually lower expectations so that no single moment guarantees doom for the cause. But taken together, what emerges is a picture of a House Republican conference that sinply doesn't - and never did - have the appetite for broad reforms to help immigrants, especially without papers." (Emphasis added.)

    And what does Kapur see as the root of the problem? Nothing new here, but at the same time, impossible to overlook or wish away:

    "The broad coalitions for immigration reform - business, labor, tech, evangelicals, Hispanics - mean nothing to the Tea Party base, which is dead set against legalizing immigrants living in the US illegally and sees cultural diversification as an existential threat to the country. These voters still call the shots among House Republicans, most of whom are in safe, gerrymandered districts and worry more about right wing primary challengers than general elections."
    (Emphasis added.)

    Has anything changed in the month since this article appeared? True, Boehner has hired Rebecca Tallent, a pro-reform advocate and former McCain immigration staffer. (See my December 4 Immigration Daily Post).

    But Tallent, far from being a reform firebrand, is herself a cautious pragmatist who wrote in the Christian Science Monitor last month that House Republicans still need to be sold on the merits of reform. See Immigration reform: the politics of the possible (November 6)

    No doubt Tallent will use all her talents to accomplish this to the best of her ability. Optimistically, she concludes that there may still be a chance for reform before the 2014 elections.

    But in the light of the above political realities, and her own statement that reform is not a big concern in the districts of many of the House Republicans who will need to be convinced, passing immigration reform next year will be anything but easy.

    Updated 12-12-2013 at 05:18 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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