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Does the GOP Want to Blow Up CIR and Blame the Democrats? By Roger Algase

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.

The following is a revised version of my post which originally appeared in the early morning of January 16.

On the surface, it seems like good news that the House Republican leadership is evidently renouncing the strategy of letting immigration reform die a quiet death, which many of us had expected this year. Instead, the House GOP bigwigs are talking about reform, and all this talk could lead to action, at least according to a January 15 Politico article by Jake Sherman and Seung Min Kim: Inside the House GOP's immigration push.

I can imagine the euphoric headlines and blogs: The House Republicans have seen the error of their ways and have realized that they cannot simply let reform go quietly into that good night (to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, whom I consider the 20th century's greatest English language poet).

According to this script, the pressure of the immigration reform movement is working. The brave immigration supporters who fasted in Washington and conducted sit-ins at Congressional offices, the church leaders, business groups - Silicon Valley - all the diverse interests who lined up on the side of reason and humanity, have finally succeeded in shaming the House Republican leaders into taking some real action to bring about reform in this election year.

At least one might think so while reading the Politico story about how House Speaker John Boehner's immigration "Principles" are soon to be released, how there are "secret talks" going on on the Republican side, and to quote from the article:

"There are some signs that top Republicans are taking the [reform] process seriously."
(Emphasis added.)

But does all this mean that reform has a real chance this year? Or are the House Republicans only determined to kill reform with a bang instead of a whimper (to paraphrase another famous 20th Century English language language poet, T. S. Eliot, who, in my opinion, deserves the prize for the most pretentious poet of his time)?

And are the Republican proposals, (so far as we know what they are) intended to bring about real reform, including legalization for 11 million unauthorized immigrants? (Forget about the "special road" to green cards and citizenship - that has already gone, or is about to go, under the bus.)

Or are these reported GOP proposals just land mines intended to torpedo reform and boomerang against the Democrats?

(Oy! Am I ever mixing up my military metaphors! How awful! But the reported Republican "reform" proposals don't make any more policy sense than my metaphors do from the point of view of style.)

Let's look at the proposals in more detail.

Politico's Sherman and Kim write:

"There have been discussions among senior Republicans about trying to trade some form of legalization for increased state and local enforcement of immigration laws - a move, depending on how its crafted, that could run into resistance from Democrats." (Emphasis added.)

Further down in the same article, Sherman and Kim describe another possible Republican proposal:

"[Rep. Mario] Diaz-Balart [R-FL] has been working on a legalization bill to address current undocumented immigrants in the United States. The legislation, still in the works, will most likely use border security and interior enforcement triggers on the legalization path, with a probationary period along the pathway."
(Emphasis added.)

The only thing that the House Republicans seem to have left out of these "reform" proposals is putting alligators in the moat.

The GOP strategy is becoming clear - put forward traditional Republican enforcement-first proposals of the type that have blocked reform for at least the past two decades in the form of poison pills that no reform supporters can possibly accept, and then blame the Democrats for "killing" reform by voting against them.

Sherman and Kim also write:

"Trading legalization for an uptick in state and local enforcement - as some Republicans are discussing - will most likely be met with skepticism by Democrats. Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) passed legislation calling for that last summer, but Democrats vehemently rejected the bill, arguing that it would criminalize millions of undocumented immigrants already in the country." (Emphasis added.)

One does not have to be a famous literary figure to read between the lines and figure out what the Republican strategy could well turn out to be in 2014 - blow up reform and let the Democrats pick up the pieces.


Roger Algase, an attorney and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, has been practicing immigration law in New York City for more than 30 years.

He has helped many capable and hard-working professionals with H-1B, extraordinary ability and Labor Certification cases, among others, to develop strategies leading to successful results. He also represents opposite and same sex married couples in green card applications.

Roger Algase has made it possible for immigrants from many parts of the world to achieve their goals, advance their careers and build a solid foundation for their lives in America. His email address is

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Updated 01-25-2014 at 11:13 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. MKolken's Avatar
    Let's take a look at the enforcement first triggers in the Senate bill:

    First, the government needs to write a border security and fencing plans within six months. Once those plans are submitted, undocumented immigrants will be eligible to apply for RPI status. For them to be able to apply for visas, the plans have to be shown to be operational. (The goal is 100 percent surveillance of the border and a 90 percent apprehension rate in the borderís most high risk areas.) If security goals arenít reached in five years, a group of border governors and experts will be formed to make recommendations on how to achieve them. New entry-exit systems and the E-Verify system for employers will also have to be in place; that process that could take up to five years.

    And that is the Democrat's version of immigration reform.
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Isn't there a big difference in the Senate bill (Democratic plan) and the reported Republican proposals?

    Putting aside all the stuff about drafting and submitting a border security plan. which, in practical terms means all talk and zero additional enforcement, legalization can begin within six months after CIR enactment.

    The border security (BS) and interior enforcement land mines (and some of these may be literal ones as we continue the insane attempt to turn the Mexican border into another version of the Korean DMZ) don't come into play until after legalization has already gone into effect and 11 million legalized immigrants begin to apply for permanent status.

    As I read it, that means that legalization, which Matt is a vigorous and outstanding advocate for, gets done.

    But look at the reported Republican proposals: all the enforcement goes into effect first (well, maybe not the alligators, if we are lucky) and only then do we get legalization.

    It seems to me that for 11 million people at least, that would make quite a difference.

    No one would ever say that the Democratic reform proposals are perfect. And the Senate Democrats have already given away a great deal in order to get CIR through the Senate with enough Republican support to hold off a filibuster.

    But trying to paper over the differences between the two parties on immigration is a sure way to have a Republican-controlled Senate after this year's election, with big GOP gains in the already Tea Party dominated House.

    That would be the end of immigration reform for another decade - or generation.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 01-16-2014 at 06:17 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  3. MKolken's Avatar
    Roger, the security triggers are the gatekeeper to a Green Card, and the income tax requirements for RPI status are onerous as most undocumented immigrants have not faithfully filed returns. This video produced by the CATO Institute breaks it all down:

    Bottom line: the Senate's "pathway to citizenship" is really nothing more than a 6 year pathway to deportation, as many/most that are able to get RPI status will never see a Green Card let alone citizenship.
  4. Sheila Quinlan's Avatar
    The one factor being left out in these considerations is that pro-immigrant voters are not ignorant of immigration laws. They will know if the Republicans are putting forward "reform" that is non-reformative. I have found in my practice that my DACA kids and their parents have a great deal of understanding of what laws need to change in order to help themselves and their families. I find that U.S. citizen relatives of the undocumented follow immigration reform possibilities very closely. I do not think a half-hearted enforcement-only based proposal for immigration reform is going to fool anyone. Everyone knows that we need a way for relatives of US citizens and LPR's to adjust without a waiver and way for the undocumented to gain work status. Nothing less will impress them. The Democrats will not be left "holding the bag" if they fail to support proposed laws that don't provide legal status. Sheila Quinlan
  5. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I think that Sheila Quinlan's point is well taken and I also have a lot of respect for the intelligence of immigrants, regardless of legal status, or lack of it, and their families and supporters.

    The question is whether the Republican leadership understands this. America has a very long history of powerful elites persuading large numbers of people to vote against their own interests.

    This is true more than ever before, when the Republicans have unlimited amounts of money from the Koch Brothers and other super-wealthy mega-donors to throw around in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

    One of the crazier stories that the Republicans had put out not too long ago was that Obama had single-handedly killed reform in 2007 by voting for an amendment which it would have been impossible for the GOP to accept while he was still a Senator (I forger the content at the moment.)

    Of course, the GOP filibuster of reform in 2007 had nothing to do with it. Of course not. Nothing at all.

    Look at all the nonsense that the Republicans and their money are getting millions of voters to believe about the ACA, which many people who need it and would benefit from it greatly now identify with Satan incarnate.

    It takes a lot of hubris to think that immigrants and their families can be fooled into thinking that the GOP of rich white men really wants reform, while the more diverse and inclusive Democrats are killing it.

    But, based on their past experience and unlimited campaign money, and with plenty of help from Fox News and Heritage Action, no one should put it past the Republicans to try to bamboozle the immigrant community about all things related to reform (and its demise, if this takes place).

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 01-16-2014 at 08:58 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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