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  1. House "Magnificent 7" Reform Group Disbands. Is CIR Entirely Dead?. By Roger Algase

    This update is posted on Monday morning, September 23:

    My original September 21 post did not mention Greg Sargent's September 20 column in the Washington Post with the cheerful title:

    In blow to immigration reform, House 'gang of seven' bill looks dead.

    And this was written before the two Texas Republican Congressmen pulled out of this bipartisan group, as described in the Politico report mentioned below.

    However, unlike Politico's Seung Min Kim, who attributes the defection of these two former members of what I will call the House's "Magnificent Gang of Seven Bipartisan Samurai" to pressure from a right wing anti-immigrant group in her article, Sargent writes that the real reason for the (anticipated) bust-up of the House group was lack of support by the House GOP leadership.

    Or maybe the two Republicans looked on a facebook wall somewhere and saw handwriting resembling that of House GOP leaders John Boehner, Eric Cantor or Bob Goodlatte with the Biblical words Mene mene tekel upharsin ("You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting").

    The biggest surprise of all, in my opinion, is that anyone expected a comprehensive reform bill to come out of this group on the first place. The House Republican leadership made clear right from Day 1 that it was against a comprehensive approach and that the Senate CIR bill, S. 744, was DOA in the lower chamber.

    If there ever was any sign that this bipartisan group which, we are told, labored mightily for four years, but was unable even to bring forth the proverbial mouse, was anything more than window dressing to divert attention away from House GOP obstruction and inaction on reform this year, that sign was hard to detect.

    Perhaps there is a ray of good news in this. Just as the importance of the House's bipartisan immigration reform group was, quite arguably, exaggerated, its demise may be overrated too.

    Much of the comment on immigration reform in the House has been swinging back and forth between overoptimism and extreme pessimism. As mentioned below, I have been quite pessimistic too, but maybe we should still listen to the words of Horace, the great Latin poet of 2,000 years ago, mentioned in my original post below:

    Non omnis moriar ("I will not entirely die".)

    Maybe Greg Sargent has also been reading Horace. Sargent writes that, notwithstanding any breakup in this group:

    "This doesn't mean immigration reform is entirely dead".

    After all, the powerful House Judiciary Committee led by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) which has already reported out four immigration bills (including some poison pills) and is said to be working on four more whose content he has not yet revealed.

    But then, at the end of his article, Sargent turns away from the spirit of the immortal Roman poet and writes:

    "Indeed, it remains very possible that House Republican leaders will simply let reform die..."

    The following is my original post of September 21, with a few revisions.

    With few exceptions, my posts have been relentlessly pessimistic about the chances for immigration reform passing any time soon in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. My view has been based on the fundamental dynamics of immigration politics, chiefly the GOP's dependence on relatively well off whites for its support.

    This is a demographic that only a small minority of immigrants in 21st century America fits into. While it is far from true that all, or even most, white voters are bigoted against racial minorities, enough are, especially in certain parts of the country, for the Republicans to feel the need to cater to prejudice if they want to remain viable as a party.

    Don't take my word for this. Just ask Ann Coulter and Michele Bachmann.

    At least, this is the calculus that seems to be influencing the great majority of House Republicans, including their leadership. And this is not only true of House Republicans - after all, only 14 Senate Republicans voted to pass that chamber's CIR bill, S. 744.

    Despite the courageous efforts of a few forward looking Senate Republicans such as John McCain (AZ) and Lindsey Graham (SC), who are willing to look beyond the next election (or primary), toward demographic reality and the longer term interests of their party - and country - most Republicans are stuck in a mold of appeasing their their intolerant Tea Party base.

    (Even though this is beyond the scope of this blog, it is also hard to ignore the Grand Old Party of Rich White Men's recent savage attacks on less well off Americans and immigrants alike in trying to defund the Affordable Care Act, cut food stamps and close abortion clinics on which many minority immigrant and American women depend all over the country. Nor can one ignore the frantic efforts that the Republicans are making in many states to stop Latino, African-American, and less affluent US citizens from voting.)

    Therefore, it should not come as any great surprise that, as discussed in Immigration Daily's September 20 editorial, Politico is reporting that two more Republican members of what was originally the House bipartisan "Gang of Eight", and later turned into what I ironically referred to as the "Magnificent Seven" in a recent post, have now quit that group, effectively disbanding it.

    Surprise, surprise! Yes, there was some talk about a comprehensive bipartisan House bill being agreed to and introduced (just as there was hope that Godot would eventually show up in the 1950's Samuel Beckett play - there I go dating myself again) but, at least as far as this writer could see, there were not many real signs that the "Seven Samurai" would actually come out with one, since, according to most news reports, only the Democrats in that group showed any real interest.

    In her September 20 article House Immigration group loses more Republicans Politico's ace immigration reporter, Seung Min Kim, gives the following reason for the defection from that group of the two Texas House Republicans, John Carter and Sam Johnson.

    "Though the Texas Republicans broadly blamed the Obama administration in their public statement, the lawmakers had also faced considerable backlash from the public in the Lone Star state during the August recess, according to a GOP source.

    The Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee, a conservative anti-illegal immigration group, had revoked their endorsements of Carter and Johnson according to the Dallas Morning News."

    Maybe those anti-immigrant groups that we were led to believe were so quiet during the August recess were not so passive or unengaged after all. Not only did the two GOP Congressman effectively disband the bipartisan group, but, according to the Politico article, they did so with a statement blaming President Obama for not enforcing the immigration laws - something that can only be called obscene, referring to a president who has arguably deported more people than any other chief executive in this nation's history.

    Where does this leave the chances for immigration reform in the House now? Is the great Roman poet Horace's line mentioned in my September 20 post: Non omnis moriar ("I will not entirely die") still relevant to CIR?

    As Immigration Daily's above editorial (and my own post) pointed out, reform is now in the hands of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). That committee has reported out four immigration bills, and four more of yet unknown content are in the works, according to Goodlatte.

    Immigration Daily's editorial cautions House Democrats to be careful about voting against Goodlatte's bills, less they fail to pass the House and Democrats then also become complicit in the final demise of CIR and wind up sharing the blame in the eyes of the public along with the Republicans.

    No one can dispute this point. And there are reports that some House Democrats may be willing to compromise with Goodlatte on the Pathway to Citizenship by throwing millions of immigrants who would be eligible for citizenship according the Senate bill under Goodlatte's "citizenship through regular channels only" bus, in order to get some form of legalization (if not citizenship) for as many people as possible through the House.

    But what happens if the GOP bills are so loaded with poison pills that the Democrats have no choice but to oppose them?

    Suppose, for example, that Goodlatte were to combine a bill granting legalization to some DREAMers, or maybe even a few other unauthorized immigrants, with one giving states back the power to write their own anti-immigrant laws which the Supreme Court (in part) took away from them last year. Such a bill has already been reported out of Goodlatte's committee, as mentioned in a Huffington Post article referred to in my September 20 post.

    If a Republican immigration bill gives relief from deportation (and perhaps even a shot at eventual citizenship through "regular channels") to hundreds of thousands, or even a million, people at the price of putting Sheriff Joe Arpaio back in business, how would House Democrats vote?

    I would not put it past Bob Goodlatte to offer House Democrats this type of Hobson's choice.

    Updated 09-23-2013 at 04:15 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. Congress' Paralysis May Kill Program to Provide Visas to Iraqis Who Helped US

    by , 09-20-2013 at 09:31 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    10 days are all that is left before the program that provides visas to these brave individuals ends. These are not just people who did a favor here or there. We're talking about people whose lives are endangered because they helped America in substantial ways. We owe them. From the NY Times:

    That many Iraqis who worked with the American military are still in the pipeline for special visas to emigrate to the United States — the State Department will not say how many, but activists estimate it is in the low thousands — remains an unresolved legacy of the American war.

    It is also a reflection of the perilous state of the country nearly two years after the departure of American troops: the rising violence, which includes the remobilization of militias that once targeted Iraqis who helped the United States, has raised new fears and led more former interpreters to apply for the program, just as it is set to expire.


    A group of representatives and senators in Washington, including some lawmakers who are themselves Iraq veterans, is hurrying to save the program, which was enacted in 2007 and has been hampered all along by long delays because of security checks.

    The original legislation earmarked 25,000 visas over five years, and over that time roughly 8,000 have been issued. So far this year, the State Department has issued just 454 special immigrant visas for Iraqis. Lawmakers say there is little actual opposition in Congress, but the issue has been caught in a legislative logjam, and has been given little attention by many politicians who would prefer to forget about the Iraq war.

  3. Gang of Seven Bill Appears Dead

    by , 09-20-2013 at 04:20 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and two Republicans on the bipartisan House Gang of Seven publicly acknowledged today that work on the Gang of Seven bill has stopped and they are not moving forward. Gutierrez blamed Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders for not giving Republicans any support. Representatives Carter and Johnson, the two GO7 Republicans noted above, blamed President Obama (thought the logic is pretty flimsy). The reality may be something else. This could mean that the House piecemeal strategy is looking better to move forward. The bipartisan bill was mainly seen as a backup in case the other approach fails. It might also mean that the bill simply will lie dormant and could come back to life if the Judiciary Committee bills fail.
  4. Bob Goodlatte Is Moving Ahead With Immigration Reform. Or Is He? By Roger Algase

    There could be at least one sign of hope for Latinos and all CIR supporters that the Latin poet Horace's famous line from 2,000 years ago: Non omnis moriar ("I will not entirely die") may apply to immigration reform in the House of Representatives today.

    On September 19, both Politico (Seung Min Kim) and the Huffington Post (Erica Werner) carried stories to the effect that the powerful House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is pledging action on a variety of immigration related bills. See Politico: Bob Goodlatte backs 'earned' citizenship for DREAMers, and Huffpost: Bob Goodlatte Pledges Action On Immigration.

    In her Politico article, Kim focuses on the contentious citizenship issue, on which there does not appear to be very much new from Goodlatte. Essentially, Goodlatte, according to the article, is repeating his previous statements that he would only support citizenship for what might be a very small slice of the unauthorized immigrant population indeed: DREAMers who marry US citizens or are sponsored by employers.

    Better than nothing, perhaps, but comprehensive immigration reform this is not. However, in her Huffpost article, Werner discusses the status of broader immigration reform in Goodlatte's committee.

    She describes Goodlatte's approach as follows:

    "'We are taking what we call a step-by-step approach. We have objections to the Senate bill, but we don't say we want to kill the Senate bill', Goodlatte said at a gathering organized by House Republicans with Hispanic Republican leaders to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month. 'We want to do immigration reform right.'"

    This may be encouraging not only for what Goodlatte said, but because of his Hispanic audience. It could indicate that, unlike some Republicans on the radical right, Goodlatte does not believe in writing off America's entire Latino population in favor of white voters only. That would certainly be a sign of progress.

    The Huffpost article also reports that Goodlatte's committee is now working on four immigration bills, in addition to the four that the committee has already approved, and that a package of bills leading to a Senate-House conference has not been ruled out. Goodlatte also said he would like to see voting on the new bills begin next month.

    So far, so good. It would be even more encouraging if we knew what is actually in the four new bills that Goodlatte's committee is considering, but Goodlatte is not yet ready to talk about that. However, we do know what is in the four bills that his committee has already passed.

    According to the Huffpost, two of the committee's already passed bills deal with important pieces of reform, namely visas for high skilled workers and agricultural workers, and two are enforcement-only bills, including one that would give state and local governments immigration enforcement power.

    This would appear to be a attempt to overturn the Supreme Court's Arizona v. US decision last year, and would definitely belong in the poison pill category. The chances of its being accepted by the Senate or signed by the president are close to zero.

    What is in the four new bills that Goodlatte's committee is considering? The answer to this question might determine whether there will be immigration reform any time soon or not. We will all have to stay tuned.

    Updated 09-23-2013 at 06:23 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Lawyer Suspended for Month for "Illegal Alien" Comment

    by , 09-20-2013 at 06:29 AM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    An Indiana divorce lawyer has lost his license for a month due to comments he made about the immigration status of his client's wife. According to the ABA Journal:

    An Indiana lawyer has been suspended for 30 days for a comment about the immigration status of his divorce client’s spouse in a letter sent to opposing counsel and the judge in the case.

    The lawyer, Joseph B. Barker, wrote the letter in 2009 to protest his client’s lack of access to his child, according to the Indiana Supreme Court's Sept. 6 opinion (PDF), noted by the Legal Profession Blog.

    Barker’s client “told me this week that he has only seen his baby … one day all year,” Barker wrote. “Your client doesn't understand what laws and court orders mean I guess. Probably because she's an illegal alien to begin with. I want you to repeat to her in whatever language she understands that we'll be demanding she be put in JAIL for contempt of court. I'm filing a copy of this letter with the court to document the seriousness of this problem.”

    The Indiana Supreme Court said Barker’s letter violated ethics rules regarding conduct showing bias or prejudice, and conduct with no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, burden or delay a third person.

    I have mixed feelings on this one. I've commented many times before that I think calling someone an illegal alien is a derogatory term and I think the lawyer's conduct here was certainly uncivil. And there are cases where threatening to reveal one's immigration status have been found to be akin to extortion (though I don't think that was what was happening here). But I probably would have recommended a reprimand as opposed to something as harsh as taking away someone's livelihood for a month.

    Updated 09-20-2013 at 06:39 AM by GSiskind

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