Don Mooers shares insights regarding the impact of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision on US immigration:
Don Mooers provides a video update with the latest on Immigration Reform:
On June 27th, the U.S. Senate passed the Immigration Reform bill, S.744, with a vote of 68 to 32. The bill now moves on to the House of Representatives, where the process begins anew following the July 4th holiday. The House GOP conference meets July 10 to begin discussions, with a bumpy ride ahead inevitable.
On Monday evening (June 24th), the Senate passed a procedural motion laying the groundwork for passage of the Immigration Reform bill later this week. 67 senators voted for the passage, with several supporters out of town, giving the bill a chance at final passage with perhaps 70 votes.
Now the real politics begin as America’s attention turns from the Senate to the House of Representatives. We still believe that Immigration Reform will pass this year, but this passage will not be without plenty of bumps in the road. Be ready for a roller coaster ride together with lots of fireworks over the next two months.
The following New York Times article provides more detail about the Senate’s action.
The immigration news right now is dominated by the battle in Congress over the future of undocumented individuals and the future flow of immigrants to the United States. Here is an UPDATE on the most recent Immigration Reform activities in the US Congress:
–The House of Representatives is busy on the Immigration Reform issue as it takes a different path from the Senate. Yesterday the House Judiciary Committee passed a restrictive bill that, among other things, (a) makes being in the US without authorization a Federal crime and (b) gives state and local governments the authority to pass immigration-related laws. This is part of the “piece-meal” process that the House said that it would follow (the Senate is following a “comprehensive” approach – the difference is that the Senate’s approach deals will all issues, while the House currently wants only to address certain issues in separate legislation).
Also in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner announced that he would not allow Immigration Reform to come to a vote unless at least half of the Republicans (a “majority of the majority”) agreed. He doesn’t want to see a bipartisan bill pass unless a majority of the Republicans agree. If his decision stands, it will be much more difficult for Immigration Reform to ultimately pass the Congress later this year.
At the same time, the media is reporting that the House of Representatives bipartisan “Gang of Seven” may finally be ready to submit its own stand-alone Immigration Reform bill. It will be, reportedly, a stricter version of the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill.
Does all this sound confusing? You are not alone – this is currently a mess in the House of Representatives.
–While the House was going in the direction of anti-immigration, the Senate continued debate on the “Gang of Eight” bipartisan Immigration bill. Debate on the bill is expected to continue for another two weeks or more.
Supporters of Immigration Reform were excited to read the report this week by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office [Full Report]. The Report projects that hundreds of billions of dollars will be added to the US Treasury if Immigration Reform passes. Opponents of Reform have long claimed that legalization would be a drain on the economy – the truth, it appears, is exactly the opposite.
Finally, the media is reporting that a group of Republican Senators have negotiated an amendment to beef-up border security measures. If these measures are adopted by the full Senate, they will reportedly support the overall legislation, making it overwhelmingly bipartisan at final passage. If the Senate can achieve unity on the final bill, the thought is that opponents of Reform in the House of Representatives will have a much more difficult time trying to derail fixing America’s broken immigration system.
Recent action by the United States Senate: Here is a summary (compiled by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)) of the Senate debate through Tuesday. Debate started on June 10, with the first vote (a vote to allow debate to continue) on June 11.
On 06/11/13 on a 84-15 vote the Senate successfully passed the motion to proceed on S.744 and began debate on the bill.
On 06/12/13 Senators took the floor to make opening statements and statements in support of various amendments. The three biggest debates today included: Sen. Cornyn’s (R-TX) border security/trigger amendment (RESULTS Act), which saw Sens. McCain (R-AZ) and Schumer (D-NY) fighting back against Sen. Cornyn as he made his case; Sen. Hatch’s amendments on limiting eligibility to public services for all immigrants and requiring payment of all back taxes while also limiting access to the EITC for RPIs; and the debate between the majority and minority party on how many votes amendments will require to pass (60 or 51).
On 06/13/13 the Senate voted to table Sen. Grassley’s amendment 1195 which would prohibit the granting of RPI status until the Secretary has maintained effective control of the borders for 6 months. The amendment was successfully tabled (essentially killed) on a 57-43 vote. At the end of that vote Sen. Reid announced that because the minority party had objected to the amendment agreement there would be no more votes for the rest of the week and that they would reconvene on Monday. He also indicated that Senators should be prepared to work through next weekend (June 22 and 23) in order to pass the bill before the end of the month.
Here are a few highlights from the debate:
Sen. Schumer (D-NY): This amendment would delay legalization for the 11 million people for 5-6 years. What do we do until then, what are we telling those 11 million? That if you hide successfully from the police then maybe 6 years from now you can have the right to work and to travel. This will clearly unravel the compromise of the bill. This amendment is opposed by all eight members of the “Gang of Eight.”
Sen. Leahy (D-VT): The pathway to citizenship must be earned, but it also must be attainable.
Sen. Grassley (R-IA): We were promised a fair and transparent process. This move to table the bill is the opposite of that. We were promised border security after the amnesty bill in the 1980s, and we never got that. If we allow the RPI process to go through there will be no pressure on this or future administrations to get the job done to secure the border.
On 6/18/2013 the Senate continued debating and voting on amendments to S.744. Here is the recap of the four amendments voted on Tuesday.
3:01pm the Senate voted on Thune Amendment 1197. The amendment would require the completion of the 350 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing described in section 102(b)(1)(A) of the IIRAIRA before RPI status may be granted and to require the completion of 700 miles of such fencing before the status of RPIs may be adjusted to permanent resident status.
The amendment failed on a 39-54.
3:32pm the Senate voted on Landrieu Amendment 1222. The amendment would apply the amendments made by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 retroactively to all individuals adopted by a citizen of the U.S. in an international adoption and to repeal the pre-adoption parental visitation requirement for automatic citizenship and to amend section 320 of the INA relating to automatic citizenship for children born outside of the U.S. who have a USC parent.
The amendment passed on a voice vote.
3:38pm the Senate voted on Vitter Amendment 1228. The amendment would prohibit the temporary grant of legal status to, or adjustment to citizenship status of, any individual who is unlawfully present in the U.S. until the Secretary of DHS certifies that the US-VISIT System (a biometric border check-in and check-out system first required by Congress in 1996) has been fully implemented at every land, sea, and air port of entry and Congress passes a joint resolution, under fast track procedures, stating that such integrated entry and exit data system has been sufficiently implemented.
The amendment fails on a 36-58 vote.
3:54pm The Senate voted on Tester Amendment 1198. The amendment would add 4 tribal government officials (2 from Northern Border region, 2 from Southern Border) to the Border Oversight Task Force.
The amendment passed on a 94-0 vote.
You can watch the Senate debate each day on www.CSpan.org (go to C-SPAN 2).
Share your thoughts in the comment section.
The June issue of Mooers Immigration today is available here. We welcome your feedback!
The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to allow the Gang of Eight Immigration Reform bill to “come to the Senate Floor.” What does this mean? Absolutely nothing!
Well, actually it does mean something. It means that the Senate of the United States – the 100 Senators (2 from each state) – has decided to have a full debate on the bill that was approved several weeks ago by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
We can expect several weeks of debate and procedural actions before the Senate is ready to take a final vote on the bill. All of the action will be carried live on C-Span2, and it may prove to be interesting theatre, especially when votes are called. However, most of the debate will consist of one or several Senators standing alone in the empty Senate Chamber speaking about one or more aspects of the bill, addressing the President of the Senate (the individual with the gavel sitting high above the Floor) and colleagues as if the entire Senate was present.
While the Senate acts, the House of Representatives still lacks its own Gang of Eight (now Gang of Seven) legislation. It is only after both the Senate and House have passed separate pieces of legislation that the respective bills will be sent to a conference committee where differences are hammered out and a compromise bill is agreed upon.
This means that we still have quite a ways to go, even if the Senate does its part and passes a bill before the July 4 recess.
Drop us an email at MI@Mooers.net to let us know how you feel about this.
Starting this afternoon (Monday, June 11) on C-Span2, viewers throughout the US and around the world will be able to watch the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” – a.k.a. the United States Senate – begin debate on the Immigration Reform bill. The action is expected to begin shortly after 2 PM.
It promises to be a full discussion of the major aspects of Immigration Reform, and could last several weeks (or more) since the Senate will need to consider other pressing business as well (judicial, diplomatic, executive and military confirmations; other bills that have come out of committees; special proclamations; etc.). Getting the Immigration Reform bill passed by the July 4th holiday is the objective of the bill’s sponsors. Stretching the time is an objective of the bill’s opponents as they try to kill many of the bill’s provisions.
Since there is no play-by-play announcer and most Americans have never had the opportunity to work in the hallowed halls of Congress, much of what happens on the Senate floor is a mystery to viewers. Viewers should not be discouraged, however – there will be many opportunities to listen to Senators debating aspects of the bill. And there will be many votes to follow as well.
In preparation for the debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee released its “Committee Report” on S.744, the Gang of Eight Immigration Reform bill. The Committee Report provides details – in somewhat understandable English –about the bill. Here is a link to the Committee Report on S.744:
For anyone interested in Immigration Reform, the history of immigration in the United States, and the key issues in the current Immigration debate, this Committee Report is a must-read.
Here are some very interesting tidbits from the Report:
From studies of the last Amnesty (in 1986), legalizing previously undocumented workers increased U.S. wages by 10%;
With these facts, it is easy to understand why Immigration Reform has gained strong bi-partisan support.
This week I was invited to speak about immigration law and policy matters to several organizations. We receive requests for talks several times a week, and I try to accommodate as many of these as possible. Immigration law is such a difficult topic, and through the years I have found ways to make this complicated mess of a system into something that is understandable to the general public. I will focus my comments on two of this week’s appearances.
On Wednesday, I participated in a “career day” at one of the most diverse primary schools in the DC region. Over the past 13 years, I have had a number of successful interactions with this particular school, including creating a new AmeriCorps program over a decade ago to help bridge the learning gap of newly-arrived immigrant children. Whereas a decade ago the kids were struggling, on Wednesday I saw a completely transformed environment. The students were bright, engaged and interested in my presentation and in the discussion. Ten years ago, the students in the same classrooms were reticent, shy and reluctant to say anything.
One topic, however, brought them some anxiety. Several of the Fifth Graders asked about immigration reform and what it would mean to their families, especially to their parents. Their questions and responses exposed a deep concern for these young people, most of whom understood that little or nothing would happen to them. Their parents, however, were a different story. Some had parents deported from the US, while virtually everyone else knew of someone whose parent or relative had been picked up by Immigration.
For many of these kids, Immigration Reform and a path to residency will mean that they will no longer have to worry about whether their parents will still be at home when they wake up each morning or return from school each afternoon.
Later that same day I was the featured speaker at a session of “Live and Learn Bethesda,” an informal education effort designed to bring interesting topics to the people of our community. I spoke to about 20 individuals of all ages about immigration law and where we seem to be headed with reform. Many were looking for answers about how the system worked and did not work, while others were professionals from immigrant communities. Some had preconceived notions when they entered the room, and most, if not all, had no idea how complicated or convoluted the process has become. These folks were most interested in how immigration reform could impact them, especially vis-à-vis the future availability of eldercare workers from Africa and the Caribbean.
All in all, the discussion showed me once again how little the public understands about immigration law in this country. It is no wonder that polls show that this is an issue about which most Americans are somewhat ambivalent. If they just understood more of the issues at play, they might be much more engaged.
On Monday, June 10, the Immigration debate comes back into the front pages as the Senate begins its debate and deliberations. It should prove to be good television – stayed tuned to C-Span 2 for all the action.
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