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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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Last week, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced the Bipartisan Reform of Immigration through Good Enforcement Resolution in the lower house of Congress. According to Congressman Chaffetz, the resolution does three things:

make E-Verify mandatory for all employers, and hold employees accountable as well;

provide sufficient border infrastructure and manpower to secure and control our borders; and,

reject amnesty and any legal status which pardons those here in violation of our laws.

At first I thought this was the usual anti-immigrant measure we expect to see from the folks in the Immigration Reform Caucus. But an interview with Chaffetz in the Salt Lake City morning newspaper makes me wonder if the antis are as hard core as we think:

He also told the Deseret News that 'no amnesty means to me that we're not simply
going to excuse them and allow them to stay here in the country. Will we listen to
discussion and proposals (about possibly imposing fines or work requirements to stay in
country)? Of course. But no amnesty.'

That sounds a little more reasonable than the no way, no how approach of many who say that any form of legal status for those in the country illegally is out of the question. If the debate is focused on how steep the fines will be and whether there is a path to citizenship or not, we'll have made major progress toward finally coming up with a plan that everyone can live with to fix the immigration system.

In another hopeful note of compromise, Congressional Daily (wish I could link but it's a subscriber site) was reporting Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) as saying that the Brown election in Massachusetts doesn't kill immigration reform:

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said in an interview he does not believe the Brown election dooms the chances for immigration reform.
"There's not going to be a Democratic or a Republican immigration bill. It's got to be bipartisan," Leahy said.

But he added that an alternative might be to take up smaller immigration proposals rather than one big comprehensive bill. Measures that could be considered individually include the so-called AgJOBS bill, which would help the agriculture industry, and the EB-5 investors visa program, under which foreigners who invest at least $1 million into creating U.S. jobs can receive citizenship.

"But there are those who don't like that, of course, because they figure then you cherry pick and you don't have the incentive to push through a bigger one," Leahy added.

I highlighted the part about an alternative approach because it really represents an important development in immigration politics. Pro-immigration groups have been adamant that immigration reform must be comprehensive rather than piecemeal. As Leahy noted, the piecemeal immigration reform idea gets many upset because it potentially removes supporters from legalization - especially advocates for highly skilled immigrants.

For someone like Leahy to speculate publicly that piecemeal immigration reform is a legitimate strategy choice for pro-immigration advocates has to be seen as a major potential compromise of the same type as Chaffetz's. It will take such open-mindedness on the part of the legalization advocates and the enforcement hawks if we're going to tackle immigration reform this year.




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  1. My 2 cents's Avatar
    All immigration talk has the focus on the undocumented. As usual the legals are left out in the cold, hope both the Dems & Cans can work out something. However it seems impossible to get anything worked out this year as the administration has to deal with jobs & healthcare first. I also think the Dems would lose some more Senate seats in Nov.
  2. gg's Avatar
    Maybe they can think about "path to citizenship" down the line .. But they should alteast offer some kind of "legal status" to folks who are on "self imposed exile" which will allow them to work and travel back home freely.
  3. Rajeev Khanna's Avatar
    Democrats are saying that we don't have super majority so we cannot pass this we cannot pass that. But if you see closely, they have passed only one big bill and that was economic stimulus bill and they did not have super majority at that time also. In a sense they have not passed anything even when they had super majority. In my opinion Democrats loss in Massachusetts is not only an indication of people anger with big government or economic issues but also the inability of democrats to pass anything meaningful despite having super majorities in both congress and Senate.
  4. Subbu Iyer's Avatar
    Rajiv raises an interesting point; one that is likely to return to haunt the Dems for a long time. Consider this: the Dems get the driver's seat in the House, Senate and the WH after eight yrs of Rove and Cheney, after the 2000 Florida recount, after the Iraq war and YET they are unable to pass legislation?!! Any sensible political party under similar circumstances would've passed a new Bill every month, in the first year. The Dems however, have shown remarkable skill in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    All we've got from the Dems so far on immigration has been the strip-tease routine aimed at the Latino votes. Perhaps old fox Schumer meant 2015 when he said "by Labor Day". On evidence, maybe it is better for imm. reform to have Republicans take the lead.
  5. A's Avatar
    "A new face has joined the growing list of lawmakers, who are--AGAINST--any revival of AMNESTY for the invaders. Rep. Miller says the best way to protect American workers is to pass his legislation, the Loophole Elimination and Verification Enforcement Act (H.R.994), which puts immigration enforcement first. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Ca) points out several key facts in the AMNESTY bill that would hurt unemployed Americans. First, Miller criticizes the offering of amnesty to the nation's 12 million illegal aliens, saying that "granting amnesty to those that have recklessly disregarded our nation's immigration laws is an affront to American citizens and legal residents." (Rep. Miller adhesive's to the tired illegal immigrant policy of the 12 million number. In truth there is somewhere between 20 to 30 million as Bear Stearns stated.) Find more answers for your immigration questions at NUMBERSUSA dot com and JUDICIALWATCH dot org."

    Unfortunately I live in Gary Millers district , My assemblyman (Curt Hagman) is even worse.
  6. Roger T.'s Avatar
    Greg - This is Roger in Salt Lake. I appreciate you covering this issue, and it is coincidental that you mention it. Congressman Chaffetz has actually reached out to the Utah AILA Chapter to meet with us to have open debate on his proposals. I'll let you if there are any interesting tidbits that he reveals.
  7. gg's Avatar
    Wake up call for America ?

  8. gg's Avatar
    40 % Americans want Immigration Reform as per new PEW POLL
  9. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Thanks Roger. Good to hear from you and I look forward to hearing what you report.
  10. Jim's Avatar
    As I have been suggesting for quite sometime, people should be open to doing it via piece-meal.

    Even HC reform is in danger to falling apart or being chopped down to multiple smaller legislations.

  11. beppe's Avatar
    Greg, as i told you many time, the piecemeal immigration is the only one that could work. Idea: uphold for one year the 10-ban and extension of the godfather law and increase the green card for science and it to country like china and india.
    Bloomberg is the key, we must have him as a front figure in this battle
  12. Another Voice's Avatar
    Its is still a mistery why the democrats and their majority keep insisting on some sort of "bi-partisan aproach". The republicas are and will continue to be the party of no when it comes to Obama, have they not learned anything from the healthcare debate?? The Leahy approach does not seem like one that can bare fruit...

    The piece meal approach seems good as long as something gets done, but one has to consider that the biggest political constituency for the dems are and remains the hispanic vote. Therefore no fix for the 12 million questions gives them no political victory. Is not like the hispanic voters are going to go for the republicans but given that the dems will have lost all credibility with them in the next election those 10 million votes they may just stay home, giving the republicans a BIG chance to win in 2012, not sure that that is a risk that the dems can afford to take given their current prospects for 2010.
  13. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Of course, the reform does not need to include amnesty. Repeal admissibility bars, increase quotas for legal immigration, and take some categories out of the quota, and you will not need amnesty... ever.
  14. George Chell's Avatar
    Simple solution..allow folks married to citizens and legal permanent residents stay (amnesty with family values). Ask all others to leave and re-apply for re-entry as guest workers. Some will try to find spouses and stay, but that is the penalty the GOP and others have to pay for touting family values. End Section 214(b) for student visas..and introduce re-capture. We will get half the jobs we lost to Asia and Australia back!
  15. beppe's Avatar
    George, if you married a citizen you get the green card, in any case, Greg, you are see some good solutions to the issue, can you redirect to some of your source in the senate/house???
  16. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "George, if you married a citizen you get the green card, in any case"

    Not if you entered without inspection. In this case you need to apply for CP, and once you leave the country, the 10 year bar kicks in.
  17. Another Voice's Avatar
    The touchback thing will not work... undocumented immigrants will not take that chance, they have too much to lose!!!
  18. john's Avatar
    democrats deserve it. dems cant approve a single bill by themselves. because they are a bunch of greedy gods without principles. they may pass a bill if republican like maccain introduces a bill. this is a fact. its because a lot of these democrats are too much liberal (want to spend more and more and using the victory to push through their old fashioned ideas).
    Look at CIR. any tom and harry knows that senator menandez is asking too much in the bill. if you ask too much, you get nothing. in my opinion a bill asking GC for a illegal immigrant will fail. any bill now on needs to be a bipartisan(real one). If you want your senate seats in the next election, do something atleast some peacemeal bills to push the agenda so that you can claim you did work hard. Obamism of doing everything in a sinlge bill will get you nowhere.that was bush's failure.
    things like
    a) dream act b)e verify c) visa recapture d)modifying the outdated visa rules are something you can get approval from dems and reps. come up with only bill that has a chance of passing not GREEDY.
    that way you are not wasting tax payer dollars as well.
  19. gg's Avatar
    A L E R T !

    Obama to discuss immigration in tomorrow's State of Union address (Senior admin aide)
  20. A's Avatar
    "Obama to discuss immigration in tomorrow's State of Union address (Senior admin aide)"

    Another speech .....
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