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Conservative Groups Push for Boehner to Take Up Immigration Reform

July 9th, 2013 No comments
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Three influential conservative groups on Tuesday urged Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to pursue immigration reform in the House.

In a letter to Boehner, American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas said their groups support many of the key elements in the immigration reform bill recently passed by the Senate, including the pathway to citizenship.

But the group leaders told Boehner the House should take up the issue to ensure that a final version of the law adheres more closely to conservative principles.

“The U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that we consider progress,” the letter reads in part.

“But members of the House will correctly pursue their own legislation. This will ensure that any final product has considerable conservative input, and that certain aspects of the Senate bill are markedly improved. Whether a comprehensive bill or a piecemeal approach, we support an immigration reform package that reflects the economic contributions that immigrants make to our country.“

Boehner has said he has no intention of taking up the Senate immigration reform bill because it doesn’t have majority support from his caucus, and on Monday he announced the House would pursue an immigration overhaul of its own.

The Speaker said any bills that come out of the House would also require majority support from his caucus to see a floor vote.

Still, not all conservatives are on board with the House pursuing immigration reform.

The editors of two influential conservative magazines — William Kristol of The Weekly Standardand Rich Lowry of the National Review — on Tuesday shared a byline on an editorial called “Kill the Bill,” in which they argued there’s “no rush to act on immigration” and Republicans eager to address the issue are doing so in a “political panic.”

“If Republicans take the Senate and hold the House in 2014, they will be in a much better position to pass a sensible immigration bill,” the editorial reads in part.

Kristol and Lowry conclude by suggesting the House “not even bother” with the issue because whatever it passes will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

Holtz-Eakin, Norquist and Cardenas tried to point out areas of the debate where it believes Senate Republicans tried to move the bill in a more conservative direction but were blocked by Democrats in the Senate. They argue these were issues the House now has an opportunity to muscle through.

Their letter singled out amendments from Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would cap low-skill visas, one from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would provide more high-skilled visas, and one proposed by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that would require a five-year waiting period for green card holders to apply for federal healthcare benefits.

But perhaps the thorniest issue Boehner faces is the timing for when illegal immigrants would be eligible for provisional legal status on the path to full citizenship.

In the Senate bill, immigrants would become eligible as early as six months after enactment of the law. Many conservatives — including Boehner — want specific border security enhancements fully implemented and measured for their veracity before legalization occurs.

The letter from the conservative groups pressed for “a tough but humane process to earned legal status,” but didn’t break down what that might entail.

Florida Tea Party Turns Against Senator Marco Rubio for Pro-Immigration Reform Stance

July 9th, 2013 No comments
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When Sen. Marco Rubio turned 42 on May 28, his Facebook page was swamped with more than 4,000 messages from people livid with him for championing the immigration reform bill that was moving through the Senate. The notes variously called him a turncoat, a RINO, a traitor, or worse. Some birthday greetings suggested he celebrate in Mexico, Cuba, or hell, while one cheerfully said, “Happy Birthday! Now Resign!”

But the real backlash for Rubio came a month later, after he voted for the Senate immigration reform bill. Senators headed home for the weeklong July 4 recess, or in Rubio’s case, a week of conservative blowback and hometown heartache, including a Tea Party protest in front of his Miami office.

“It was like a suicide mission that has served no purpose that we can tell,” said Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the Florida-based National Liberty Federation, of Rubio’s lead role on immigration reform. “The feedback I’ve received is that people are extremely upset with Marco. Tea Party members who were active with us and helped get Marco elected—several have said they’re no longer going to support him.”

Wilkinson organized the first Tea Party event ever held in West Palm Beach, complete with a little-known Senate candidate named Marco Rubio. Rubio’s speech was a hit and his name was passed among Tea Party groups throughout the state and the country.

But at the time, Wilkinson also said some Tea Party supporters quizzed Rubio on his immigration stance and now believe he has taken the opposite position.

“He specifically said he wanted to enforce the borders and have a wall, and make immigration something that you have to earn and that that he wasn’t going to support amnesty,” Wilkinson said. “It’s left a lot of us wondering what happened.”

Although Tea Party supporters alone did not elect Rubio to the Senate, their early advocacy for him, and against Gov. Charlie Crist, gave Rubio crucial momentum, exposure, and a national fundraising network that undoubtedly fueled his rise against the better-known governor.

A split now with conservatives and Tea Party members—the base of his base—will make Rubio a different kind of Republican going forward, for better and worse.

Juan Fiol, a libertarian Republican from Miami who volunteered for Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign, says he won’t vote for Rubio again, nor will many Latinos he knows. “His own volunteers are turning against him. He’s in a lot of trouble,” Fiol said. “I am a Republican, but I do not identify with Rubio anymore. He could have been our savior, and he’s the nail in our coffin.”

Like Wilkinson, Fiol says Rubio “flip-flopped” on his immigration position since 2010. “He ran against this, that’s what bothers me,” Fiol said. “Quite a few times on Fox News, he would say, ‘I am for legal immigration. I am for securing the border.’ Then he turns around and supports amnesty. He might as well switch parties right now. He’s done.”

Read more: http://politics.kfyi.com/cc-common/mainheadlines3.html?feed=104707&article=11461580#ixzz2YaUH4a4F

I-94 Cards Will No Longer Be Given at Airports – Arriving Aliens Must Print Out I-94

July 4th, 2013 No comments
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Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) started implementing the automated version of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, at air and sea ports of entry and will by week’s end include Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, Orlando International Airport in Florida, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Miami International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Implementation will continue across the nation through May 21, to include air and sea ports of entry that support international arrivals. For more information on the implementation schedule, please see CBP’s Travel Advisory.

Foreign travelers entering the United States at air or sea ports of entry will be able to access their electronic Form I-94 by visiting this site. Upon inspection at the point of entry, CBP will give foreign travelers a tear sheet with instructions on how to look up their electronic Form I-94 on CBP’s website. From this website, they can print out their Form I-94 in paper format. Foreign travelers may need their Form I-94 when requesting certain USCIS benefits, or when applying for public benefits from other government agencies.

This new policy changes/complicates things quite a bit. Arriving aliens must print out their I-94 cards online, and they should do so immediately upon arrival. Some have reported difficulties in using the Customs and Border Protection website to print out the I-94 cards. In some instances, the website cannot locate the card. If an arriving non-US citizen has difficulty finding the I-94 on the CBP website, they can go to Deferred Inspection and ask an officer to help them obtain the I-94.

It will be interesting to see how this new policy affects marriage-based adjustments and other immigration processing. In adjustment cases, it is imperative that the foreign-born individual provide proof of a lawful admission to the US, and, the I-94 is the best evidence.

USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas Nominated as Deputy Secretary of Department of Homeland Security

July 2nd, 2013 No comments
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As Director of USCIS for the past four years, Mayorkas has led the agency that oversees the largest immigration system in the world. He is responsible for enhancing USCIS’ efforts to grant immigration and citizenship benefits to those deserving under the law, ensure the integrity of the immigration system, prevent fraud and protect national security, provide accurate and useful information to customers, and promote an awareness and understanding of the citizenship process. Director Mayorkas has also overseen USCIS’ effort to implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing certain individuals who were brought to the United States as children and who meet specific criteria, in line with the Department’s enforcement priorities, the opportunity to be considered for deferred action.

Prior to serving as Director of USCIS, Mayorkas was a partner in the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP. In 1998, President Clinton nominated him to be the U.S. Attorney for the Central
District of California. In that role, he led an office of 240 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and oversaw the prosecution of cases of national as well as international significance. While serving as U.S. Attorney, he also served as the Vice-Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Civil Rights and as a member of the Subcommittee on Ethics in Government.

Director Mayorkas’ experience and leadership will be invaluable as we continue the critical work of protecting this country from threats of all kinds. I congratulate him on his nomination as Deputy Secretary of this Department.

Until Director Mayorkas is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rand Beers will continue to serve as Acting Deputy Secretary. From the first day of this Administration, Acting Deputy Secretary
Beers has been one of my most trusted advisors, and continues to provide invaluable counsel and guidance on a wide spectrum of homeland security issues, from counterterrorism efforts to cybersecurity.

Jeb Bush – The Senate Immigration Reform Bill Advances Republican Economic Growth Objectives

July 2nd, 2013 No comments
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Now that the Senate has passed comprehensive immigration reform, the action shifts to the House of Representatives. Here the GOP’s informal “Hastert Rule” requires Speaker John Boehner to have majority support among Republicans before he will bring legislation to the floor for a vote. That means an immigration bill will need a far greater share of Republican House members than the Senate version received (where fewer than one-third of Republicans voted “aye”).

This is a tall order. But it is one to which House Republicans should respond.

No Republican would vote for legislation that stifled economic growth, promoted illegal immigration, added to the welfare rolls, and failed to ensure a secure border. Yet they essentially will do just that if they fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform—and leave in place a system that does all of those things.

To grow economically, the nation needs more young workers, as the population is aging and its growth is slowing. Yet only 13% of the immigration visas each year are issued for work or special skills. Nearly two-thirds go to relatives of existing residents, under an expansive definition of family preferences that includes not just spouses and minor children but parents, siblings and unmarried adult children.

Family preferences crowd out the work-based immigration this country needs. In particular, America’s educational system produces only a fraction of the high-skilled workers required for technology jobs.

U.S. universities still attract the world’s best and brightest, but few foreign students are allowed to remain after graduating. Many return home or go on to other countries with more sensible immigration policies. Canada has one-tenth of our population—yet it issues far more high-skilled visas (more than 150,000) yearly than we do (65,000).

Illegal immigration results now because there are too few lawful low-skill job opportunities for immigrants. But in both high- and low-skilled industries, the actual alternative to importing workers is not hiring more Americans but exporting jobs.

Today, working-age immigrants contribute to the economy and more to social services than they consume. America needs more of them. Doubling GDP growth to 4% from the anemic 2% that has become the new normal would create more than $4 trillion in additional economic activity in the 10th year—more than the entire current GDP of Germany. It would also add $1 trillion in recurring tax revenues.

The Senate immigration reform addresses most of the flaws of the current system. It reduces family preferences, increases the number of high-skilled visas, expands guest-worker programs, and creates a merit-based immigration system for people who want to pursue the American dream. It also offers a path to citizenship for those who were brought here illegally as children, and dramatically increases resources and tools for border security.

The bill also invites people who came here illegally to come out of the shadows through a provisional resident status. It does not provide an amnesty, that is, a pardon. The Senate bill creates a 13-year probation during which those who came illegally must pay a series of fines and back taxes, undergo background checks, are ineligible for most social services, and must work continuously.

Overall, the bill satisfies a criterion that is essential to the rule of law: It makes it easier to immigrate legally than illegally.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the Senate bill would reduce the budget deficit by more than $1 trillion over 20 years, boost the economy and increase productivity, without reducing the wages of U.S. workers. In short, it advances Republican economic growth objectives.

Congressional Budget Office Reports that Senate Bill 744 Would Save the U.S. Nearly $900 Billion

June 20th, 2013 No comments
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WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional budget analysts said Tuesday that legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws would cut hundreds of billions from the federal deficit over the next two decades.

A long-awaited analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that the benefits of an increase in legal residents from immigration legislation currently being debated in the Senate – which includes a pathway to citizenship – would far outweigh the costs. “The findings in this report give proof that implementing smart immigration reform will strengthen the U.S economy,” said Laura Lichter, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ms. Lichter continued, “Creating an immigration system that puts immigrants on a path to citizenship will not only boost wages and entrepreneurship, but will also bring more tax contributions and spending to small businesses in their local economies.”

The report estimates that in the first decade after enactment, the immigration bill’s net effect of adding millions of additional taxpayers would decrease the federal budget deficit by $197 billion, even with higher spending on border security and government benefits. Over the next decade, the report found, the deficit reduction would be even greater – an estimated $700 billion, from 2024 to 2033.

“Now that they have this new report in hand, showing that the benefits of immigration reform will make a real difference to our country, there is no excuse for Congressional inaction. We need the Senate to move forward with renewed momentum and forge a bipartisan consensus to fix America’s broken immigration system,” Ms. Lichter concluded.

ICE Director John Morton Leaving Department of Homeland Security for Private Sector

June 19th, 2013 No comments
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the branch responsible for prosecuting deportation proceedings, has informed that “[t]oday Director John T. Morton announced that he will leave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the end of July. Director Morton has dedicated more than twenty years to government service with the past four years as Director of ICE. He leaves to work in the private sector.”

Are House Republicans Backtracking on Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

June 13th, 2013 No comments
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A Democratic leader on immigration reform in the House is chiding Republican colleagues for backtracking on promises to overhaul the nation’s border control laws, signaling fears that a bipartisan compromise in the chamber remains elusive.

“Over the past week, it seems Republicans are having a relapse,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) wrote in an op-ed in the Huffington Post on Thursday. “The anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric are metastasizing and causing a substantial case of amnesia about the last election.”

Gutierrez is part of a bipartisan House group that has been working privately on a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the group has suffered delays and setbacks for months. Most recently, one of the original eight members, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), dropped out of the coalition, citing a standoff over requirements related to health care for illegal immigrants.

Immigration advocates are hopeful that the House group can come to agreement, which would give Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders the option of moving forward with a comprehensive bill instead of smaller, piecemeal proposals favored by some conservatives.

Fearful that the progress has stalled, Gutierrez hit Republican colleagues for voting last week to defund President Obama’s executive order last summer to defer deportations of young immigrants — known as DREAMers — who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents as children. Republicans said they believe Obama should not have usurped Congress.

President Obama Rallying Support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

June 11th, 2013 No comments
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President Obama, his second-term agenda bogged down amid political controversies and partisan gridlock, will attempt Tuesday to keep public pressure on the Senate to move forward with a sweeping proposal to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

Obama is scheduled to appear at the White House with a broad coalition of immigration supporters to tout the legislation that has reached the Senate floor this week. With the full chamber expected to engage in weeks of debate, the president is trying to exert his influence while not upsetting the delicate balance of a bipartisan group of eight senators that negotiated the deal.

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Though Obama has made immigration reform one of his top second-term priorities, his administration has played mostly a supportive role as the senate group took the lead in drafting the legislation. White House aides have said the president recognizes that being too far in front on immigration could risk scaring off Republicans fearful of being tied too closely with the administration.

But opponents of the bill — which features a 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally — are gearing up to offer amendments aimed at delaying or denying the legalization process. And Obama, who has been stymied on his efforts at new gun-control laws and a grand bargain to reduce the deficit, has stepped up his involvement in the immigration issue again this week.

“The bill before the Senate isn’t perfect. It’s a compromise. Nobody will get everything they want – not Democrats, not Republicans, not me,” he said in his weekly radio address. “But it is a bill that’s largely consistent with the principles I’ve repeatedly laid out for commonsense immigration reform.”

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Immigration Reform Bill to be Debated on Senate Floor Starting Today

June 11th, 2013 No comments
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The Senate votes for the first time Today on a major immigration reform bill. The result could set the stage for weeks of discussion.

The vote will decide whether to begin debate on this major immigration reform plan that was drafted by eight senators — four Republicans, four Democrats, dubbed the “Gang of Eight.”

Their bill made it out of committee last month where it underwent a lot of changes. This is the next and crucial step — a debate on the Senate floor that will almost certainly involve weeks of discussion and a number of amendments that could make the bill stronger, or could sink the bill.

This is exactly the point in this debate where the immigration reform plan fell apart in the Senate six years ago.

The plan they are debating creates a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million or so illegal immigrants, but only after certain border security improvements are initiated. Illegal immigrants without a criminal record who get a job would be granted legal status, but they would have to go to the back of the line for citizenship, which could take 10 years or so.

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