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Vanishing Immigration Reform Goalposts. By Roger Algase

Rating: 2 votes, 3.00 average.
With every passing week, it becomes increasing clear that the House Republicans have no intention of passing CIR, or any meaningful immigration reform bill. Even in the Senate, where a handful of pro-reform Republicans had enough influence to gather 14 votes from their side of the aisle in order to pass a comprehensive reform measure, there was a game of constantly moving goalposts.

This game began with the Senate Republican Gang of Eight (GOE) members' demands to make the "pathway to citizenship" (shorthand for green cards as well) for unauthorized immigrants as long, arduous, and full of pitfalls as possible. Next, came the fleet of buses and the negotiations over which people, and how many, to throw under them.

After it was decided to throw a variety of groups - African diversity lottery immigrants, siblings of US citizens, unauthorized immigrants arriving after a certain cut-off date, Indian IT companies, and, until later rescued by the Supreme Court, same sex marriage couples, under the bus, it looked as if there might be a deal. That was before the goalposts were moved again.

This next goalpost move involved border security: the Republican GOE members complained that they needed more drones, more fences and more border patrol agents. So these were agreed to as well, to the tune of billions of dollars more in profits for military contractors worried about lean times without Iraq and Afghanistan.

But this wan't enough either, for some Republican Senators outside the GOE. This meant more border security, e-verify and other enforcement measures, adding up to another $46.3 billion.

But all this just seemed like preliminary skirmishing once the CIR bill got to the House. There, the issue is not just how deep into the end zone to move the goalposts to, but which part of the parking lot outside the stadium to put them in, before moving and then demolishing the entire parking lot.

First, House Republicans announced that there would be no pathway to citizenship, unless impossible to achieve border security and internal enforcement goals were met first. (An attempt to include this condition in the Senate CIR bill, S. 744, had failed in the upper chamber)

Then the House Republicans stated that there would be no "special" pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. This was followed by statements that even provisional legalization would be contingent on impossible border security and internal enforcement conditions; and, later, that legalization was now off the table entirely, except for DREAMER's - and not even all of those.

This put the parking lot with the goalposts somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, if not the Gobi Desert. But now, according to POLITICO, even a relatively-reform-friendly House Republican such as Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), has said that there will be no House votes on any immigration bills until October - st the earliest. Immigration bill 2013: Immigration vote may well wait until October, Paul Ryan says, July 26.

And, if and when such a vote takes place, what kind of a bill or bills will the House actually vote on? Ryan states:

"Tentatively, in October, we're going to vote on a border security bill, an interior enforcement bill, a bill for legal immigration."

There is nothing here about any plan to help unauthorized immigrants, not even the DREAMER's. Except for possibly letting in a few more hi-tech professionals, or, at the opposite end of the scale, low skilled workers, as window dressing, this is all straight out of the Republican enforcement-only immigration playbook for the past two decades.

Even if a few more hi-tech or low-skilled visas survive in the House GOP final cutting room (and I would not necessarily bet on it), the CIR goalposts, or the goalposts for any kind of reform for unauthorized immigrants, which was supposed to be the centerpiece of any reform bill, are now on their way to Mars.

Why are the immigration reform goalposts heading off so rapidly into outer space, never to be seen again? Wasn't there an election in 2012? This may be the whole problem. Apparently, for many Republicans, and even for some respectable pundits, it seems, last year's election did not take place at all - at least not the election we all thought had been decided.

To be continued.

Posted by Roger Algase
Sunday, July 28, 2013

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