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Monday, October 24, 2016

Now that the government is back open and there are 90 days until the next budget showdown, lawmakers’ attention has shifted back towards issues like immigration. But, despite a show of bipartisanship in the Senate, immigration reform faces a long road through the deeply divided House of Representatives.

For months, it seemed that immigration was the issue that could break the Washington gridlock. A bipartisan Senate bill was passed this spring with the support of some of the most conservative senators, including Florida’s Marco Rubio. It was clear then that immigration reform is an issue that does not cut along party lines — it’s supported nationally by a range of key voting blocs and politicians.

It’s this show of bipartisanship that leads observers like Byron York of the conservative Washington Examiner to conclude that immigration reform still has a chance to pass the House. York writes:

The reformers, led by Obama, are still trying. They have the Senate bill in their pocket. They have nearly unanimous Democratic support plus a significant number of Republicans. They have the support of powerful interest groups. And they have money, money, money.

This all may be true, but other signs point to immigration reform being completely blocked in the House.

The Senate bill is opposed by a majority of House Republicans because it contains a so-called “amnesty” clause, which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship after 13 years. House Speaker John Boehner has said the House will not vote on the Senate bill, but rather draft its own immigration legislation in a step-by-step manner.

The crux of the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill is an overhaul of the current immigration system. The overhaul expands visas for immigrants who specialize in math and science. The bill would also reduce visas for those with relatives who are U.S. citizens.

That bill will likely not get a chance in the House because of Boehner’s adherence to the “Hastert Rule.” According to ABC news, the Senate bill likely has the votes to pass the House, but Speaker Boehner will not bring it to the floor for a vote without the support of a majority of his caucus.

The only way that an immigration bill will be voted on in the House is if a compromise is reached by a committee of Democrats and Republicans. That bill would also need support of a majority of House Republicans for Speaker Boehner to bring it to the floor for a vote.

That seems unlikely, as the House committee that was convened this summer to take up the immigration bill has unraveled in recent weeks.

Last month, two Republicans abandoned the committee, citing inability to trust President Obama as the reason for their departure. More recently, another member of the group, Republican congressman Raul Labrador, claimed that immigration reform no longer has a path through the House because of the recent Washington dysfunction. Labrador told the Huffington Post: “For us to go to a negotiation, to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake.”

To further complicate the process, the 2013 legislative session is winding down. As of October 18, the House has fewer than 20 days in the legislative session to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Invaluable legislative time was lost as Congress struggled to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

Comprehensive immigration reform may also struggle in the next legislative cycle. Next year is an election year for House members, which will make it especially challenging to pass any bill with bipartisan support.

Despite all of these congressional roadblocks, President Obama isn’t giving up on passing an immigration bill. After the shutdown ended, Obama urged the House to return its focus to passing immigration reform.

“Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear them. Let’s start the negotiations,” the president said Thursday. “But let’s not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years. This can and should get done by the end of this year.”

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • charleo1

    I like optimism, a sunny disposition, and a can do attitude! But at this point, is there anyone who believes in the possibility of anything outside of another government shutdown, or debt default, emerging out of that governmental black hole, formerly known as the House of Representatives? I was just thinking about the many pressing issues that continue to pile up. Immigration, a crumbling infrastructure in need of
    investment, and repair. Too few jobs, and too many jobs that fail to pay a living wage.
    And too many of us retiring with only our Social Security, and Medicare. And far too many politicians insisting these programs must be cut anyway. As long as things stay the way they are, not only is America no longer able to do big things. But it’s
    becoming more, and more likely that America is unable to do anything at all.
    Remember that 60s song, who’s lyrics were taken almost verbatim from the book
    Ecclesiastes in the Bible? “To everything there is a season.” “And, a time to every purpose under the heavens.” It is my fervent hope America’s time to act, and move forward comes very soon.

    • omgamike

      All well and good, but the season is here now. The problem is trying to get grassroots pressure brought to bear on these problems. It is only through this type of pressure that the politicians will respond in a positive way. Lord, I wish I was young enough to do it myself. I still have the passion, but no longer have a body that can live up to the demands such an effort would place on it. But I know that out there somewhere is a natural leader, someone with the ability to pull all of those disparate progressive groups together to put such pressure on our politicians as they’ve never seen before. We need to get out and knock on each and every door — educate people on the truth of these issues and how they affect their lives in such a personal way. The opportunity is there in November of 2014 to change the make-up of the House, so we can undo all the crud that those on the right have put in place.

      • charleo1

        Indeed, I can see the passion in your message. And the Country
        needs at least a couple of hundred million more, just like you!
        Heck! There might be that many, if we can get them to the polls.

        • omgamike

          Before we get them to the polls we need to get them fired up. What was that Obama used to chant, ‘fired up…..ready to go!’ People’s memories are short-lived. Things like the shut down fire ’em up, but it doesn’t last. We need to keep reminding people of what it’s been like since 2010’s elections. Keep it in the front of their minds. That’s where the grassroots activism comes in. That’s where the President’s group, the Organizing For America (OFA). They’re the ones we need to light the fire under, because they’ve got the numbers of volunteers to knock on the doors, and the financial resources to do mailings and targeted advertisements.

          • Independent1

            I think one thing that would help is if we can get more Democrat legislators fired up and expressing their opinions. It seems like every time I read about a legislator being on some syndicated news show, it’s far more often a Republican or Independent. The list of Republicans who seem to spend 1/2 their legislative lives showing their faces on TV is extensive: Cruz, Rand, Ryan, McConnell, Boehner, Issa, Cantor, Graham, Rubio, McCain, Bachmann and on and on.

            While for the Democrats the list of legislators that appear with any frequency on syndicated shows is far too short: aside from Obama and Biden, I can only come up with a very few: Reid, Schumer, Pelosi and who??? Bernie Sanders and Angus King make more of any effort as Independents than Democrats other than Schumer, Reid and Pelosi. (I don’t watch TV so I may be missing some that appear more than I’m aware.)

            Part of the problem is, that Americans are getting their news via the media which with enormously unbalanced reporting – they’re constantly being hammered with the GOP’s perceptions of how things should be; while hearing very little from the other side of the aisle.

          • omgamike

            Democratic points of view are out there, though you may have work a bit to find them. Republicans would have you believe that the main stream media is all for the democrats. I will agree with you that where it concerns the President’s agenda items for his second term, he needs to put all the democratic top people out on the road whenever possible, to sell whatever particular agenda item he is trying to pass. Right now it is immigration reform. One reason they have had so many problems with the public acceptance of the ACA is because they didn’t do a good enough job of selling it right after it got passed. The republicans were able to define the program the way they wanted the public to see it without any democratic push back.

    • CPAinNewYork

      I’m against immigration reform because I don’t like doing anything with a gun to my head. I’m funny that way. I favor large public works types of organizations to put a lot of people to work. I think that all political contributions should be declared illegal. I think that we should quit the Middle esast entirely. All we need to do there is to buy their oil. We don’t need an army to do that.

      • charleo1

        Sure. We agree public works, or investments by the government, are
        not merely make work projects to alleviate unemployment. But are a
        long overdue, and necessary upgrade the Country must have to
        remain competitive, and attract businesses to our shores in a global
        economy. Also the T-Party must stop threatening to destabilize the
        economy every six months. An unpredictable business climate is the
        reason Countries in the third world have trouble attracting investments.
        And we must reevaluate our priorities, and interests, around the world. And adjust our military deployments accordingly. While I don’t agree with abandoning our commitments, and considerable interests in the Mid East. The justification for spending huge sums to address the unlikely event of a Soviet land invasion of Western Europe, is just
        no longer there. And it is high time for the U.S. to make Europe much more responsible for the costs of their own defense, and security.
        But, if you get the time you’ll need to elaborate a bit, on why it is you feel there is a gun to your head, when it comes to reforming the immigration system.

        • CPAinNewYork

          The political representatives of the minorities, particularly the Hispanics, stand to gain the most from our liberalizing immigration, because the immigrants will be from Latin America. They’ll be voting the liberal agenda, which is why the GOP opposes enfranchising them, despite the fact that business likes the cheap labor provided by the immigrants, particularly the illegal kind.

          To enhance their political power, the representatives of the minorities are putting a great deal of pressure on Congress to enfranchise the illegals already here and to let more in. I don’t like that kind of pressure from the representatives of the impoverished. In fact, I resent it.

          We are in a recession and increased immigration is going to make it harder for Americans to enjoy the life style that we achieved after World War II, because the employers will be in a stronger position. That will enable them to keep wages and social programs low. We have seen how the conservative representatives of the rich, like Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, etc. tried to eliminate Medicare and Social Security. George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security. With increased immigration, the forces of ultra conservatism will be encouraged to increase their efforts.

          We will degenerate from a democracy to a plutocratic oligarchy.

          • charleo1

            Well, that’s one way to look at it. But, just for conversation’s
            sake, let me offer some good reasons why the GOP would,
            or should pursue immigration reform. First, national security. Everyone within our borders needs to be identified, and working above board. To do that we must control illegal entry. Here we’ve actually wasted a lot of money trying to secure a border, without eliminating the main reason people are sneaking into the Country. That makes zero sense. Unless removing the illegal immigrant’s motivation for breaking the law, would require politicians to actually take on these big wealthy farming, construction, and hospitality industries, that have ignored laws for years aganist hiring undocumented, or fraudulently documented alien nationals from Mexico, Central, and South America. While opposing all efforts to set up a system that would identify the individual, his/her status, Country of origin, and eligibility to be in, and work in this Country. And require every employer in the Country to use it. This is the heart of the problem. It has never been the case we can’t, or don’t how to stop the influx of illegal workers.
            We haven’t had the political will to do so where it counts.
            Secondly, having a sub-economy run with illegal labor, hurts
            everyone, except the ones reaping the profits. It drags entry
            level wages down. Communities are unfairly burdened by
            the uncompensated costs of medical care, schooling, law
            enforcement, and other costs all people generate by being
            physically in a community. Like all of us, they get sick, have
            accidents, wives get pregnant, kids need schooling, and
            there will be those that run afoul of the law, outside of
            immigration. And we all shoulder the burden of that with our taxes. As to the programs you mentioned. Social Security,
            and Medicare. What Ryan and others point to, when they
            talk about the lack of sustainability of these programs, has
            a lot to do with the large number of people retiring, and the
            dwindling number of people in the workforce paying into
            these systems. Here is where providing a pathway to
            permanent legal status for the millions now in the shadow
            economy, and their offspring, makes the most sense. It would result in adding youth, and their contributions to our graying society. Plus, doesn’t it just make sense, a person with legal
            standing would stand to make a better wage, than one who
            doesn’t? I’m going long here I know. But we’re just talking.
            One final reason, out of many more the Republicans should
            make immigration reform a priority, is demographics. There
            are 5,000 Hispanic, and Latino citizens that turn 18, and are
            thus eligible to vote, every week in the Country. So, if not another migrant worker ever crossed the border, the numbers will bury the GOP in the next 20 years, if they can’t generate more than the 20% of this fastest growing minority
            group. (Romney’s numbers were 17%.) And while immigration reform is not the only issue that drives the poll numbers in this group. It is important enough, to marginalize
            the GOP, at the national level, for many years to come. At
            least, that’s what the experts are telling the GOP.

          • CPAinNewYork

            I don’t think that giving citizenship to the Hispanics will add anything to our benefit funds, because they’ll continue to work off the books and sell drugs.

            As to national security: These people, especially the Mexicans, hate the Anglos who run the United States. The Mexicans learn in Mexico that their national goal is the “reconquista,” which is the re-conquering of the states that they lost to the United States in the Mexican War of 1845-1846: Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada and ten years before that, Texas.

            As to eliminating the reason that the Hispanics want to come to the United States: You’re right. We have to prosecute the businesses that hire the illegals. Do you see that happening anytime soon? I don’t. Money talks in this country and it’s the money interests that want cheap labor and the illegals are cheap labor. Someday that crap may be forced out of this country, back to the shitholes from which they came. But, to get to that point, we need to eliminate the rich, who are stopping the government from enforcing the law. Guillotine, anyone?

          • charleo1

            Well, don’t let them off the hook that easy. It’s why we have
            10/12 million people, authorities have little idea who they are.
            That’s our problem. Enough of well, they have the money, so
            requiring them to follow the law, is off the table. And, I can tell you from personal experience there is no plot to retake the U.S. States, or any of the other mischaracterizations. It’s bigotry, and is beneath us as a Nation. We’re better than that. And so is
            the idea these immigrants are any different from all the other
            immigrants that have been coming to this Country from all
            over the world for 400 years.

          • CPAinNewYork

            They teach the “reconquista” in the Mexican public schools. You can tell me from “personal experience” that there’s no plot to retake the U. S. states. Tell me what that “personal experience” of yours is, because I’ve seen that accusation in a number of places.

            When he was inaugurated, the current president of Mexico said in his speech that Mexico will not allow the mistreatment of Mexicans in the United States. Mexico has protested our deportation of Mexican illegals back into Mexico, because it’s a strain on Mexico’s economy. These two examples of Mexico’s ill will toward the United States tells me that they hate our guts and that they will do anything to spite us, including trying to take back the territory that they lost in the treaty that ended the Mexican War.

            You want to charge bigotry, Charley? How about this? Mexico forbids the illegal immigration of Guatemalans into Mexico and deports them. Do you call that bigotry? If not, why not? Maybe hypocrisy is a more accurate term.

            By the way, the Mexican president who threatened to stop us from mistreating Mexican illegals in the United States didn’t bother to specify what he would do about it. Maybe he had too many celebratory drinks before his speech and just shot his big mouth off.

          • charleo1

            Sure, it’s pure bigotry. I know because I, a gringo from Kansas, have been lucky enough to have been married 17 years into a Mexican-American family, who have lived on one side of the border or the other, for more than 150 years. My wife’s father, born on this side of the border, in 1895, when it made little difference, owned land, on either side of the Rio Grande. The family homestead, where he, and his wife Julie Ann, raised their brood of 12 children stands today, only 10 miles North of the Mexican border. Which, until the recent war between the Mexican Government, and the drug cartels,
            they crossed regularly to shop, and visit friends, and family.
            This is what I know. Reconquista is not on the streets of Mexico, or in the conversations of the Mexican Communities
            on either side. In fact there is no more all American family than my adopted one in South Texas! And the trunk full of
            medals awarded over the years to my most patriotic in laws, for their service to this Country, put an exclamation mark on
            what is obvious by all the American flags you see fluttering
            in every one of their front yards. They are the Country lovin’
            est, bunch I’ve ever met. That’s why to me it’s particularly
            galling to find that Lou Dobbs, and others, for months now,
            have been reporting on “reconquista” and “Aztlan” movements. Movements that exist, not in the minds of mainstream Mexicans, but a theory, spread almost entirely
            by white supremacist groups and in myth, that Mexicans have a secret plan to take over parts of the southwestern U.S. Far from expansionist dreams, Mexicans are trying
            desperately to hold on to their Country. And keep it from
            becoming a narc-o-state. As to the statements made by their
            President. Like our politicians, their rhetoric is sometimes
            for domestic consumption. And, we cannot control the policies of other Countries. Or use them as excuses for lapses in our own policies. There is no malice within the mainstream in Mexico for America, or Americans. They long to be more like us, in the best sense of the word. You don’t want to imitate that which you hate.

  • Dominick Vila

    I would not be surprised if one of the goals behind the decision to shutdown the government and created an unnecessary international crisis over the need to meet our debt obligations was to derail President Obama’s agenda. The focus during the next 3 or 4 months will be on seeking compromise to solve the budget and debt impasse.
    Proposals such as immigration reform, the farm bill, and income inequality will, by necessity, take a back seat to avert another crisis. After that, the focus will be on the midterm elections.
    I hate to sound pessimistic, but this is the reality we are facing and we might as well accept it and focus on trying to work around it.

    • CPAinNewYork

      No kidding, Ollie? You figured that out?

  • latebloomingrandma

    I heard that Boehner’s “strategy” was to take the country to the brink, with the shutdown and near default, so that the extremists would see the damage that this tactic would cause. But now the talk is just about doing it again in Jan. Has anyone there drilled into them that this shutdown cost the country 24 billion $$$s ? So much for their concern about deficits. Phonies, all. It’s a sad chapter in our country’s history. While we have this group of goofies in the Congress, I hope all this chest thumping about our “exceptionalism” takes a break. Makes us look even more foolish.

  • RobGinChicago

    Rep. Raul Labrador, a striking exception to the
    general rule that Labradors are an intelligent breed with a gentle disposition.

  • tax payer

    All they have to do is vote ( No ) and the Immigration problem is solved.