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  1. Immigration Reform Plan B: Is It Time? What Does Obama Think? By Roger Algase

    The following is an August 10 updated version of my post which originally appeared on Friday, August 9.

    Immigration supporters who were originally willing to give House Republicans the benefit of the doubt are now running out of patience with the GOP's obstruction tactics. If the House Republicans finally kill CIR, as they seem determined to do sooner or later, reformers are beginning to ask what the next step would be.

    An August 8 National Journal story: Immigration Plan B focuses on White House may provide an answer. The link is:

    The article starts off:

    "Immigration reform activists aren't supposed to talk publicly about a plan B...But as August wears out and there is no clear sense of what the House will do on immigration, some are starting to speak out...

    'We have the other track', said Adelina Nicholls, the executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. 'The other track is Barack Obama.' "

    The NJ continues:

    "The same legal reasoning for not seeking deportation for unauthorized immigrants - there is no safety-related reason for doing so - applies to other non-criminal aliens, immigration analysts argue. Politically, all President Obama needs is proof that Congress can't get the job done."

    How much more proof does anyone need that the House, while it could get the job done if it wanted to, has no wish to pass anything more than its usual enforcement-only bills, with at most, perhaps, a few breaks for unauthorized immigrant children, agricultural workers, and, possibly, some skilled workers?

    This is not to say that President Obama would be free now to rush into unilateral action to help the millions of immigrants and their families who would be devastated if legalization fails to pass Congress. If he does this too soon, Republicans will claim that they were ready to pass reform, but the president sabotaged it by jumping the gun first and showing that he "cannot be trusted" to enforce the law.

    The president would also need the courage to stand up against the immigrant-haters who would like nothing better than to use this issue as a means to bring impeachment proceedings against the nation's first African-American chief executive - whose legitimacy many of them have refused to recognize anyway during the past five years.

    Timing is important. But does that mean that the president should wait forever for the House to continue stalling and sabotaging reform? There could be an indication that President Obama, if not yet ready to consider Plan B, is at least also losing patience with the House Republicans.

    POLITICO's Seung Min Kim, whose coverage of the reform battle has been second to none, reports on the president's latest comment about this topic in her article Obama: GOP politics stopping immigration bill (July 9). Here is the link:

    She writes:

    "President Barack Obama insisted Friday that the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill would pass the GOP-led House, but that 'internal Republican caucus politics' were preventing Congress from sending a comprehensive reform bill to his desk...

    In his news conference, Obama did not disclose specific initiatives he would take to enact political pressure on House Republicans to move immigration reform."

    She also quotes the President as follows:

    " 'When I hear about the opposition to immigration reform, I just run through the list of things [they] are concerned about...I look at what the Senate bill does and I say to myself, you know what? The Senate bill actually improves the situation on every issue they say they're concerned about.' "

    The message is clear. The House has no real excuse for not passing the Senate bill, or at least something like it. The president does not say so expressly, but neither does he rule out the possibility that he might take action on his own if the House fails to act.

    The extent to which the Senate bill already leans over backwards to address the concerns of the right wing border security and internal enforcement lobby is also illustrated in the above NJ article:

    "Meanwhile, the immigrant-advocacy community has a host of complaints about the Senate bill that passed in June, which would provide a tangled, treacherous 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants here illegally...

    Activists fear the Senate bill would militarize the border such that no one could live there without being constantly stopped and asked for a a passport. They fear that it will drive undocumented workers who don't qualify for legalization further underground."

    So far, the reform debate has been dominated by the anti-immigrant bigots and the politicians who are beholden to them, particularly in the House. It is time for reform advocates to make their voices heard more loudly and for the administration to be prepared if and when House Republicans put the final nails on the coffin of CIR.

    The president's comments could be at least a first sign that he might be thinking about Plan B too.

    Updated 08-10-2013 at 09:45 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. Rachel Maddow: Students risk all for stand on immigration

    by , 08-09-2013 at 11:55 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
  3. Dave Reichert is 22nd Republican to Come Out for Legalization

    by , 08-08-2013 at 03:19 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    America's Voice is reporting Reichert, a Washington state Republican, told a radio station the following:

    The problem is that those people who came illegally have a responsibility and a debt to pay, but there also is a responsibility on our part to recognize that the fed govt and immigration system failed…failed to secure borders and hold people accountable…that brings us to today to the 12 million folks, what do we do? What about those folks who have been here 25 years?…what do you do with those people?….I want them to pay a fine, there’s some penalties they have to through, I want to hold them accountable and then they get citizenship and pay taxes.
  4. Guest Post: Congressman Smith, Please Do the Right Thing, Not the Same Old Thing by T

    by , 08-08-2013 at 12:35 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    Republican Congressman Steve King recently said something incredibly irresponsible – and it had nothing to do with calves, cantaloupes, or carrying caches of contraband cannabis. He appeared on Univision and, in response to a question about dealing with the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S., he stated: “it isn't my responsibility to solve that problem.”[1]

    Representative King could be excused because he has only been in Congress for ten years and didn’t create the problem. In fact, there are other sitting members of Congress who have played a major role in the creation of this problem over the last 25 years, namely Congressman Lamar Smith, first elected in 1986.

    In May, Representative Smith advocated that immigration reform should be done “very carefully, methodically – and not quickly.”[2] In late-July, he penned an op-ed in the National Review, GOP Should Face Facts on Immigration Reform,[3] concluding that there is no need for significant reform, only more enforcement. He recycled the same short-sighted policy perspective embodied by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA) [4] and that has stymied the creation of functional guest worker programs for more than two decades.

    There are other key facts that the GOP should consider.

    In 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which legalized 3 million unauthorized immigrants attracted by employment. The law created commissions to evaluate labor market needs, but did not create any new guest worker programs.
    Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1990, addressing temporary and permanent visas for the skilled, highly-talented, and highly-educated. It too failed to provide any meaningful options to employ workers in lesser-skilled positions. The green card quota for lesser-skilled workers was initially set at 10,000 per year, to cover both workers and family members, and Congress cut that quota to only 5,000 in 1997.[5]

    Congress passed IIRAIRA in 1996. Smith was one of the principal drivers of this law drafted to make penalties of not complying with U.S. immigration laws so severe, illegal immigration would be drastically reduced. That law failed to create guest worker programs or add visas for lesser-skilled workers, however, it did drastically impact the de facto guest worker program that had been in place for decades.
    Prior to IIRAIRA, unauthorized workers would visit the U.S. for short periods of time and then return to their home countries of residence. As a result of the IIRAIRA’s draconian penalties (e.g. 3 year, 10 year, and permanent bars), these unauthorized workers have since come to the U.S. and either brought their families with them or started families here in the U.S.

    From 2003 to present, most immigration legislation activity has been at the state level. These efforts generally mimic the ‘enforcement only’ approach of IIRAIRA. These laws reduce the effectiveness of local police efforts, but have not reduced the unauthorized immigrant populations in the targeted states or nationally.[6]

    In June, the Senate passed Senate Bill 744, a bi-partisan, mostly functional solution that both increases enforcement and legalizes the undocumented population. This bill increases immigrant visa availability to largely address backlogs, but inadequately addresses work visa needs for lesser-skilled workers.

    The ball has been in the House of Representative’s court since late-June and the Republican majority’s approach is puzzling. From the outside, they give the impression of fully evaluating all of the immigration issues and assure us that they will, in good time, come up with better solutions than the Senate did, without realistically dealing with the unauthorized immigrant population. Unfortunately, they are not objectively and critically looking at the failures of the ‘enforcement-only’ policies of IIRAIRA and state legislation. Instead, their position seems to both expand and embrace them both. Why?

    In large part because this one influential Republican member has, carefully, methodically – and not quickly, remained inflexible. He will not consider that his ‘enforcement only’ policies have not only failed, they have largely contributed to the fact that 11 million people are in the U.S. without legal status.

    President Ronald Reagan was right to advocate for and approve comprehensive immigration reform. His administration worked to achieve bi-partisan reform in 1986. In his words, that legislation took into consideration our country’s sovereignty and heritage of legal immigration in a manner intended to “improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society” and provided them with the ability to “step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.”[7] President Reagan clearly stated that our country’s objective should be “to establish a reasonable, fair, orderly, and secure system of immigration into this country and not to discriminate in any way against particular nations or people.”[8]

    Representative Smith, the American people and your political party deserve better. Please own up to your shortcomings and support comprehensive immigration reforms that provide a pathway to permanent resident status; the smart, effective and more efficient enforcement of the law; and a truly fair, orderly and secure system of immigration. It is the right thing to do.

    Bio: Anthony “Tony” Weigel practices immigration law in the Kansas City area. His practice focuses on business immigration sponsorship, for both temporary and permanent resident visas, and employer compliance (I-9/E-Verify). Twitter: @TonyWeigel.




    [4] Pub. Law 104-208, div. C; 110 Stat. 3009, 3009-46 to 724 (Sept. 30, 1996)

    [5] NACARA, Pub. Law 105-100, title II; 111 Stat. 2160, 2193-201

    [6] See:, Table on page 24. Although Arizona and Colorado show reductions, the states of Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Nebraska, all states that have enacted laws, showed increases in estimated unauthorized immigrant populations. The overall unauthorized immigrant population estimates between 2005 and 2010 remained basically the same – around 11 million.


    [8] Id.
  5. Can House Republicans Avoid Pandering to Their Anti-Immigrant Base? By Roger Algase

    Are House Republicans pandering to their racist base on immigration? Yes, in the opinion of Shannon Argueta, writing on July 11 for the site:

    The article is called:

    House Republicans Pander To Their Deeply Racist Base And Refuse To Take Up Immigration Reform

    Argueta does not mince words in talking about the Republicans' main argument against CIR, namely supposed lack of border security and internal enforcement:

    "So everything the Republicans have *****ed about was taken care of in the Senate's version of the bill. Billions of dollars in extra security agents and lots of new fencing to keep those 'Messicans' out. An e-verify system to keep the 'illegals' from stealing hardworking Americans' jobs. Everything was peachy and although we know the bill was sure to face some challenges in the House, everything seemed to be worked out in a mutually amicable agreement. HOORAY!

    Unfortunately our elation has been short lived. House Republicans announced...that they will not be taking up comprehensive immigration reform...That's right, they aren't going to get it all out-of-the-way at once, they are going to pull it apart and insert as much right wing hatred as possible into every separate piece of legislation."

    Argueta continues:

    "Republicans in the House are elected in districts that are heavily red. They fear that if they support an immigration bill that smells even slightly of amnesty, they will be voted out. The one thing that their racist constituents hate the most (besides the gays, Muslims, taxes, Liberals, flowers, the earth, happiness) is the thought that all those all of these 'horrible, dirty, government-leaching, Spanish-speaking brown people' being awarded their citizenship and taking over their bright white country...So, with that in mind the American hating Republicans in the House have chosen to ignore every study that shows reform will be a much-needed positive for our country and instead pander to their xenophobic, hate filled base."

    These are strong words. But are they unjustified? Not if one looks at the hundreds of comments full of hatred and open anti-Latino racism that appear at the bottom of almost any article about immigration in the mainstream media; not if one reads the endless barrage of accusations on right wing Internet sites that not only 11 million unauthorized immigrants, but brown people in general, are criminals who are only interested in government handouts.

    These voices of hate are going to be directed at House Republicans without letup during the August recess and for long after that. Will the voices of reason, reality and reform be heard as loudly and as often?

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