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Posts Tagged ‘border security’

CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr.) Calls for Immigration Reform

November 20th, 2013 No comments
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In California’s southern border region, immigration reform is a hotly debated topic. Now that Congress is debating the issue, the crescendo is reaching new heights. Clearly, it’s time to modernize our immigration system so we can effectively compete in a global economy. After all, strengthening America’s competitive advantage should be an overriding concern for those who serve us in office.

As CEO of CKE Restaurants, I have firsthand knowledge of the vital role immigrants play in growing U.S. businesses, spurring innovation and creating jobs. Our broken immigration system hurts individual businesses, like ours, that create jobs and thrive on economic growth. While each side in this debate has legitimate points and sincerely held beliefs, my hope is that inaction, fear mongering and political posturing will give way to rational compromise.

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Two widely respected Southern California Congressmen, Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter, are key voices on immigration reform proposals. I’m confident they will guide immigration reform to a successful resolution.

Congressman Issa points to several substantive changes needed to improve current immigration laws. He supports stronger border security and the E-Verify program that helps employers verify the immigration status of potential employees. He also supports new programs such as the obviously sensible proposal to increase visas for high-skilled workers. That kind of practical thinking will better enable our nation to meet its workforce needs, stay competitive and create jobs for millions of Americans.

Likewise, Congressman Hunter supports stricter border control and co-sponsored a bill to implement the E-Verify program.

In California, the economic benefits of Congress passing comprehensive immigration reform are immense. A little more than a decade ago, the Golden State was the world’s fifth-largest economy. Today, we’ve declined to eighth-largest.

Is a Discharge Petition the Only Way To Revive Immigration Reform and Force a House Vote?

August 19th, 2013 No comments
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Immigration reform is dying. The majority of voters want it. A broad bipartisan coalition pushed hard to enact it. The timing seemed propitious after the 2012 election. But all the economic arguments, policy papers and polling data marshaled by supporters cannot convince the Republicans who control the House. The best shot in a generation at rewriting U.S. immigration law looks destined to die with a whimper.

And yet there may still be a way to resuscitate reform efforts and force a vote on a path to citizenship. It involves a rarely used parliamentary tactic known as a discharge petition.

The legislative practice enables a simple majority of the House to force a vote on a bill, discharging the relevant committee from its responsibility to report it and circumventing the power of leadership, which controls the floor. Discharge petitions are rare. The tactic was successfully employed just 26 times between 1931 and 2002, when it was most recently leveraged to win a vote on the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance-reform bill. But a cadre of progressive activists, including powerful labor groups like the AFL-CIO and the pro-reform organization America’s Voice, have zeroed in on it as perhaps the best way to sidestep Speaker John Boehner‘s insistence that any immigration bill brought to the floor have the support of a majority of the GOP conference.

“Certainly if the House fails to pass a bill with a path to citizenship and strong worker protections, then the discharge petition has to be an option for us to pursue,” says Tom Snyder, manager of the AFL-CIO citizenship campaign.

The argument that advocates should resort to this dusty legislative gambit is a sign of how sharply the odds of comprehensive reform have fallen. Once bullish, Democratic sources now admit the tapestry of forces aligned behind the Senate bill — including business lobbies, evangelicals, Silicon Valley donors and senior GOP strategists — won’t sway House Republicans. While House leaders have said several immigration proposals will receive individual votes this fall, a large faction of Republicans are loath to pass anything at all, lest Democrats use the ensuing conference committee as a vehicle to jam through provisions they oppose.

Hence the emergence of the discharge petition as an option. With Republicans content to let immigration languish, and a tangle of nasty budget disputes likely to overshadow it, a petition is one plausible mechanism to force the issue. “One of the biggest threats we face is that Republicans will slow-walk immigration reform to death,” Frank Sharry of America’s Voice told the Washington Post. “This is a way to counter that.”

To activate a petition, reform advocates would have to introduce a bill in the House. The legislation would then need to “ripen” for 30 legislative days — or until November, given Congress‘s light work schedule this fall. At that point, supporters would try to cobble together the 218 required signatures to force a vote, using a coalition composed of nearly all Democrats and perhaps up to 20 Republicans.

It is not clear whether the vehicle for the petition would be the bipartisan bill that passed in the Senate, which many Democrats consider flawed. House Democrats considered introducing the measure before scattering for August recess, and decided against it — a sign that many members remain cool to the notion of a parliamentary workaround.

Others still feel the bipartisan group charged with devising a comprehensive House bill remains the best bet to thread an immigration overhaul through the chamber. Many Democrats have written off the group’s labors as a fool’s errand, since it has been reportedly on the verge of releasing its blueprint for six months now. Yet “it’s the best chance we have at getting a comprehensive House bill,” says a Democratic leadership aide. “Introducing the Senate bill could undermine that effort.”

In addition, Democrats want the depth of the GOP’s obstructionism to become clear to voters. “The discharge petition is a tool in the arsenal for the pro-reform side, but it is not ripe yet,” says another Democratic aide briefed on the issue. “The impasse has to be reached before a discharge petition gets traction.”

Historically, discharge petitions have been viewed as a rebuke to House leaders. It’s possible that even the handful of Republicans amenable to comprehensive immigration reform would balk at employing the tactic out of deference to Boehner. Jeff Denham, a California Republican who has said he would support a pathway to citizenship under certain terms, said in a statement to TIME that he “absolutely will not sign a discharge petition.”

Boehner has also been something of a sphinx about his own immigration convictions. Plenty of observers, Republican and Democrat alike, suspect he sides with the majority of GOP senior strategists who believe the party needs a bill to repair its relationship with the nation’s fastest-growing demographic. If that’s true, the argument goes, Boehner might be relieved for a path to passage to materialize without his overt blessing. At the same time, it’s hard to see how Republicans would reap much credit.

It may seem hard to fathom that the momentum to overhaul the broken immigration system has been snuffed out so swiftly. But Democrats who sounded triumphant just weeks ago now privately concede the effort is dying, and a legislative Hail Mary may be the last shot to revive it.

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel Changes Stance on Immigration Reform

July 17th, 2013 No comments
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Three years ago, when he was White House chief of staff, Emanuel was seen as an obstacle to liberal immigration reform in Washington. At the time, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus blamed him for a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that bars immigrants who are in the country illegally from accessing publicly subsidized health insurance. Before that, he called immigration “the third rail of American politics,” warning that Democrats who tried to work on the issue would suffer heavy political losses.

Now that Emanuel has become the mayor of Chicago, things appear to have changed.

“I am committed to making Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the world,” he announced last summer as the city rolled out a wave of new initiatives, including helping immigrants navigate paths to citizenship, providing new scholarships for undocumented students, and formally instructing law enforcement officials not to ask anyone about their immigration status except in the case of “serious” crimes.

What does it mean for a city to stand in open defiance of federal policies on immigration, particularly when the city is led by President Obama’s former chief of staff? Can city-level policies and perspectives affect the national debate about immigration reform?

Emanuel seems to think so. In April, he co-authored an op-ed in the New York Times with Illinois Representative Luis Gutiérrez about the barrier created by high citizenship-application fees. Over the past six months, he has released several statements lauding progress on immigration reform in Congress, always emphasizing the potential economic boon to come from improved pathways to citizenship. During a conversation with The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons and tax-reform advocate Grover Norquist on Monday, Emanuel’s position was the same: Chicago has nothing to lose and everything to gain from welcoming immigrants to the city, and the country could learn a thing or two from this lesson.

“There’s nothing like the dedication of the child of an immigrant,” he said. “They know in their DNA that they’re here, they’re lucky, and this better not get screwed up, or your parents are going to kill you. That is a gold mine for us — I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Read more here.

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.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Passes Key Senate Test

June 25th, 2013 No comments
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Yesterday, the Senate signaled its support for a bipartisan measure strengthening border security in the comprehensive “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill, a sweeping blueprint that promises to overhaul America’s immigration policies for the first time since 1986.

The 67-to-27 vote was considered a key test of support for the bill as a whole, as the measure also includes language echoing most other parts of the legislation.

The Senate kept the vote open for a significant amount of time for lawmakers who experienced travel delays due to bad weather in Washington. Some senators did not make it in time.

Supporters needed at least 60 votes to move forward with the revised border security provisions, which were drafted partly to boost GOP support for the overall package.

Backers of the bill were hoping to win about 70 votes to demonstrate growing bipartisan momentum for the larger proposal as it nears final passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate and heads to the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

Senate leaders are currently on track to hold a final vote on the bill itself before Congress breaks for its July 4 recess at the end of the week.

If enacted, the bill would create a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“When the immigration bill passes, (GOP Speaker John Boehner) should bring it up for a vote in the House of Representatives quickly,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

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.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Offer Immigration Reform Proposal

January 29th, 2013 No comments
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A bipartisan group of senators has agreed on a set of principles for a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system, including a pathway to American citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants that would hinge on progress in securing the borders and ensuring that foreigners leave the country when their visas expire.

The senators were able to reach a deal by incorporating the Democrats’ insistence on a single comprehensive bill that would not deny eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants, with Republican demands that strong border and interior enforcement had to be clearly in place before Congress could consider legal status for illegal immigrants.

Their blueprint, unveiled on Monday, will allow them to stake out their position one day before President Obama outlines his immigration proposals in a speech on Tuesday in Las Vegas, in the opening moves of what lawmakers expect will be a protracted and contentious debate in Congress this year.

Lawmakers said they were optimistic that the political mood had changed since a similar effort collapsed in acrimony in 2010. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and one of the negotiators, said he saw “a new appreciation” among Republicans of the need for an overhaul.

“Look at the last election,” Mr. McCain said Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours.” The senator also said he had seen “significant improvements” in border enforcement, although “we’ve still got a ways to go.”

He added, “We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status.”

President Obama has already changed some rules that will help families in which one spouse is in the United States illegally. Those plans will go into effect on March 4th, 2013.

Immigration Policy Center Releases How to Fix a Broken Border Report

February 6th, 2012 No comments
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Debates over immigration miss the critical border‐security issues. Critics of current U.S. border strategies correctly point out that illegal drugs are still being smuggled across our southwestern border in wholesale quantity and that the flow of illegal border crossers, although reduced in recent years, is still significant. Until the border is “fixed,” they refuse to consider any immigration reforms. The Obama Administration takes the opposite tack, saying with great pride that it is creating a “21st Century Border”—one that is more secure now than it has ever been. Neither side in this debate seems interested in defining what a “secure border” means. And, without a definition, it is hard to say who is right or even what constitutes success or failure.

With all the overheated border‐security rhetoric, it is commonly assumed that the problems on the border are basically simple and that they can be fixed the old‐fashioned way with a greater infusion of money and manpower and maybe a better fence. The prevailing assumption is that all we need to stop illegal crossings of drugs, people, cash, and guns are more Border Patrol agents, more National Guard troops, and more surveillance and sensors to cover the hundreds of rugged miles between lawful ports of entry. The dispute is over how much is enough, with one side saying the current buildup has done the job and the other saying we need even more. Lost in this war of words is any understanding of the nature of modern‐day smuggling.

It is easy to be misled by focusing exclusively on the border as a physical barrier. Rather than being just a line in the desert sand, the southwest border is a complex, multidimensional interrelationship of immigration laws, cyberspace money transfers, and international business connections. Consequently, smugglers must understand and move easily in the multidimensional universe that is the border. Superbly organized, technologically adept, and very well funded, they can penetrate border defenses almost at will.

If this country wants to stop smuggling and not just present an obstacle to immigration reform, we must take a broader and more analytical approach to what motivates the smugglers—and the means by which they illegally move drugs, money, guns, and people in such large volumes with such impunity. Going after the contraband product or smuggled people, as this country has been doing for years, is destined to be an endless chase. The cartels will just regroup and continue operations, learning from their mistakes. If we are serious about stopping the threat on the border, we have to dismantle the criminal organizations that carry the contraband and take away the tools that make them so effective. Anything less will fail.

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U.S. Supreme Court will Decide Constitutionality of Arizona SB 1070 Law

December 16th, 2011 No comments
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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether an aggressive Arizona statute targeting illegal immigrants interferes with federal law, entering another high-profile dispute between the Obama administration and conservative state governments.

Among other provisions intended to drive illegal immigrants from the state, the 2010 Arizona measure, known as SB 1070, requires police to arrest people they stop whom they suspect of being foreigners without authorization to reside in the U.S. Federal courts have blocked much of the Arizona measure from taking effect, agreeing with the Justice Department that it undermines federal authority over immigration.

The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to hear the case by April and issue a decision before July. That is the same time it is expected to rule on the president’s 2010 health-care overhaul, which conservative activists and Republican leaders from 26 states contend exceeds federal authority.

The scheduling positions both cases for a significant role in next year’s presidential and congressional elections—and could make the Supreme Court, certain to be criticized by the losers in each case, itself an issue. Four of the nine justices are in their 70s, suggesting the next president could have at least one vacancy to fill on the closely divided court.

Arizona has become the center stage of the immigration debate over the last few years. Many other states have followed Arizona’s aggressive approach towards illegal immigration.

Candidate Rick Perry Has No Clear Ideas on Immigration Reform, But Sides with Sheriff Arpaio of Arizona

November 30th, 2011 No comments
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Rick Perry did not offer a clear answer when pressed on how he would handle immigration reform during an interview Tuesday night with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. When asked to pinpoint a solution, the Texas governor could not or would not offer one.

“I know it’s one that people ask a lot and the fact is it’s just an intellectual conversation until we secure the border,” Perry said on Van Susteren’s show. She asked how he would deal with the 11 million-plus illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.

“What would you do? What would you do?” Van Susteren continued to ask.

“I’m not going to sit here and go through and talk about all the different options because there may be some ideas that haven’t been talked about yet, so I’m going to stick with folks like Sheriff Arpaio who is with me today and who is endorsing my candidacy, and work on securing the border, because until you get the border secure, all of these issues about immigration reform are frankly just intellectual engagement,” Perry said.

“You know, governor, with all due respect, I think that’s half an answer,” Van Susteren said.

“I think I’ve laid out a number of concepts and ideas. I don’t know which of those the American people want and that’s the reason we need to have this long and lengthy conversation,” Perry said later in the interview. “I don’t know if I have all of the right answers and one thing I have learned on this very volatile issue of immigration and immigration reform, we need to talk to the American people, we need to get their input, we need to listen to them.”

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