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GOP Senator: Path To Citizenship As Important As Border Security. By Roger Algase

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The Hill reports on May 8 that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a likely ("98.6 percent sure") Republican presidential candidate and member of the bipartisan Senate "Gang of Eight" that wrote the S. 744 comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, is predicting that the GOP will lose the 2016 presidential election if it doesn't get behind immigration reform.

The Senator made clear that this includes providing a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 people who are in the US without authorization. According to The Hill, the Senator said:

"If I were president of the United States, I would veto any bill that did not have a pathway to citizenship."

Senator Graham predicted that the GOP would lose the 2016 presidential election unless it improves its prospects with minorities, saying:

"I mean, we've got a big hole we've dug with Hispanics,"

and:

"You'll never convince me ...it's not because of the immigration debate.

He was also critical of Republicans who maintain that border security must come before immigration reform, saying:

"That's not practical...No Democratic Congress is going to give the Republican party everything we want on border security until you tell them what happens to the 11 million."

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/...n-white-voters

As most of us will remember, S. 744, which got just slightly more than enough Republican votes to pass the then Democratic-controlled Senate but was pronounced DOA when it reached the Republican-controlled House, attempted to accommodate the objectives of both parties by including a (lengthy) pathway to citizenship together with a huge increase in both spending and personnel to secure the Southern border.

I will leave it to the border security experts (among whose number I do not claim to be included) to argue about how effective throwing $46.3 billion of taxpayers' money to boost defense industry profits in the name of border security, as contemplated in S. 744, would have been. But at least it was a good faith attempt to reach a compromise acceptable to both sides of the aisle in Congress, and the constituents whom they represent.

Two years later, the immigration debate has moved even further to the right. The Democrats do not talk very much about a pathway to citizenship any more, or even about legalization for all 11 million unauthorized immigrants. Instead, they are mainly occupied with trying to defend President Obama's executive actions, which would help no more than half of the 11 million, at the very most, with a limited and precarious form of temporary legalization.

Some Republicans, on the other hand, instead of discussing a pathway to citizenship or even legalization, are now focusing on trying to take American citizenship away from millions of US-born Latino and other minority children who already have this right, according to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution adopted almost 150 years ago and a leading Supreme Court decision upholding it well over a century ago which has never been seriously questioned or challenged.

It remains to be seen whether Senator Graham will be successful in moving the immigration discussion back closer to the center.
________________________________
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been representing employment-based and family-based immigrants for more than 30 years. He is committed to protecting the legal rights of immigrants who are applying for work visas and green cards through employment or marriage, as well as other immigration or citizenship benefits. His email is algaselex@gmail.com

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Updated 05-09-2015 at 01:16 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. Retired INS's Avatar
    I am a very conservative Republican who worked 39 years for immigration, 30 years for the INS and 9 years for USCIS. I spent 24 years in immigration enforcement. Any immigration reform that allows immigrants to stay permanently, but does not include a path to citizenship is stupid. While most European nations did away with birthright citizenship, Germany adopted it after the experiences they had following WWII. They brought in workers from Turkey but did not grant birthright citizenship. After many years they had grandchildren of the original workers who were born in Germany but were not citizens of Germany. This was a breading ground for dissent. These natives of Germany had no real ties to Turkey and no protections in Germany. About 10 years ago Germany realized the mistake and granted birthright citizenship to these German born children.

    A similar problem exits with immigrants who don't have a path to citizenship. This is exactly the problem we had with the Mariel Cubans. We let them stay but many never got legal residence. There was no incentive for employers to give them a job that required training. There was no incentive for the Cubans to obey the law. They could not be deported so jail was the only consequence of bad behavior.

    I sympathize with many of the beliefs of my fellow Republicans, but they are wrong on immigration issues. They don't understand the unintended consequences their proposals will bring.
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