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Senator Look at Past Failures for Lessons on Immigration Overhaul

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Legislative Reform Leave a comment
January 31, 2013- The New York Times

Senators Look at Past Failures for Lessons on Immigration Overhaul

 

By 

 

WASHINGTON — As eight senators in a bipartisan group look ahead to a broad immigration overhaul, they are also looking back to 2006 and 2007 — the last time a major immigration measure was considered — as something of a reverse playbook.

Lesson 1? “Make sure you get out there and define what you’re trying to do,” said former Senator Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican who, in 2007, was the minority whip when his chamber’s immigration efforts imploded. “Don’t forget to pay attention to the message, and don’t let the media define what you’re trying to do.”

It is a tip that Mr. Lott says he has communicated to the staff of Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican involved in the current effort, and so far Mr. Rubio seems to be heeding the advice. In recent weeks, he has focused on conservative media powerhouses, tirelessly wooing influential voices on the right like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.

“The outreach by Marco Rubio has been very positive,” Mr. Lott said. “He’s very good at explaining what he wants to do.”

Getting out ahead by articulating their immigration principles, as the group did in a Monday news conference, is only one of the ways the senators hope to learn from the mistakes of the past. This time, they said, they are capitalizing on a promising political environment, using more conciliatory language, and trying to harness media outlets to their advantage. They also plan to move their legislation through the Judiciary Committee, a step not taken in 2007 and one that helped doom the bill, and are working more closely with businesses and labor unions to make sure the two can also reach a compromise.

“Our timing is right,” said Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. “The election results are still fresh in the minds of my Republican colleagues and they don’t want to go through this again.”

President George W. Bush said in 2009 that it was “a mistake” to have pushed for changes to Social Security, rather than immigration, immediately after the 2004 election. By the time he took on immigration late in his second term, he was a lame duck president, weakened by the war in Iraq and facing dissent within his party.

“By his own admission, President Bush made a strategic error in not pushing the issue right after his re-election,” said Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “President Obama is not making the same mistake. He still has a lot of political capital to spend.”

In the wake of the 2012 presidential election, where Mr. Obama’s defeat of Mitt Romney came with the help of 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, those on all sides of the immigration effort believe the climate is ripe for another attempt.

And, at least in the early stages, they are taking steps to reach across the aisle, even with the words they choose.

“The most important lesson I took way from 2006 and 2007 is that people had no faith that there wouldn’t be future waves of illegal immigrants,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat of New York in the Senate’s bipartisan immigration group.

To show that he is serious about an overhaul, he explained, he is especially conscious of the language he uses; Mr. Schumer now refers to “illegal immigrants,” a term preferred by the right and an acknowledgment that the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country did, in fact, break the law.

In a similar linguistic concession, Mr. Rubio, during Monday’s immigration news conference, referred to the “undocumented” workers, a term generally preferred by Democrats and loathed by his party’s conservative wing.

In 2007, in an attempt to save time and reach a deal, the Senate bypassed the Judiciary Committee and brought the legislation straight to the floor. At the time, the senators who drafted the bill tried to band together to vote down any amendments that changed the substance of their compromise, an agreement that broke down. Several controversial amendments, including one that then-Senator Obama supported, ultimately led to the bill’s collapse.

“What we’re doing now is we’re going to put it through committee,” Mr. Schumer said. “When the bill gets through committee, it will be battle-tested and we will be prepared for the floor in a better way.”

The group is also considering again trying to maintain a large voting bloc, to squash any amendments they believe could kill their bill.

“I think we have to unless there’s something that we both agree to,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said when asked about such a possibility at an immigration panel on Wednesday. “It’s going to be fragile, as these kinds of things are, and so we will have to take some tough votes in order to keep it intact.”

Finally, even business and labor interests — who historically come down on opposite sides of how to handle the future flow of legal immigrants — are currently working among themselves and with the Senate in an attempt to reach a compromise.

“We have had discussions with both labor — the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the S.E.I.U. — and business,” including with Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and leaders of other groups, Mr. Schumer said Monday.

“And in fact while we’ve been negotiating these principles, they’ve been sitting talking to one another,” he added. “They are making really good progress, much better than in 2009.”

Mr. Lott said that the collapse of an immigration overhaul in 2007 was “one of the most embarrassing moments that I experienced in the Senate,” and that the memories were still vivid — the way conservative talk radio turned on him, the angry phone calls flooding his office from around the country every morning, the handful of death threats.

Watching the immigration debate take shape now, he said, he is heartened to watch Mr. Rubio and others aggressively make their case in the press — something he wishes he had done better six years ago.

“I’d been in the Congress 34 years by then — I should have known better,” Mr. Lott said. “I was just trying to help move this thing along, but I should have paid better attention to the message part of it.”

 

 

 


McCain, Hatch, Rubio offer optimism on immigration on return for lame duck

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

By Cameron Joseph – 11/13/12 08:25 PM ET
Entire Article

Three key Senate Republican players on immigration returned to a lame-duck session of Congress on Tuesday offering optimism that a deal on immigration could be made next year.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he believes it’s “very likely” the Senate will come up with a comprehensive immigration bill that could include enforcement and a way of dealing with illegal immigrants in the country.

A pathway to residency or citizenship for those illegal immigrants was the major stumbling block to immigration reform efforts in the last decade.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said “everything ought to be on the table” in the immigration talks, while McCain said there’s a “sense of urgency” in the GOP to deal with the issue.

Sen. Marco Rubio said he was “hopeful” lawmakers would be able to work on something, but added his position remains that Congress should take action on strengthening border security first.

“As I’ve said, in my opinion, the first steps in all of this is to win the confidence of the American people by modernizing the legal immigration issue and by improving enforcements of the existing law,” he said. “And then, obviously, we’re going to have to deal with 11 million people who are here in undocumented status.

“I think it’ll be a lot easier to figure that out if we do those other steps first. But like I said, there are going to be a lot of opinions on this.”

Republican soul searching on immigration has stepped up after President Obama’s victory in last week’s presidential election. Obama soundly defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters.

In the wake of the election, conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity and pundit Charles Krauthhammer have both urged Republicans to work on an immigration plan that would include a pathway to residence for those in the country illegally.

“There’s a sense of urgency in the Republican Party for obvious reasons, and I’m sure that everybody’s ready to deal. But the specifics? Too early,” McCain said Tuesday when asked about a comprehensive bill that included a pathway to citizenship.

“There are a lot of very important legal considerations that have to be made, but I’ve always been empathetic towards resolving this problem one way or the other,” said Hatch.

McCain had abandoned his support for a comprehensive bill during a 2010 primary challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.).

But on Tuesday, he sounded more like the McCain who championed a comprehensive immigration reform plan backed by President George W. Bush.

“Oh, I think it’s very likely that we get it resolved, but there are going to be some tough negotiations,” he said.

Rubio, a Hispanic who is trusted and beloved by the GOP base, could be the most important player to watch in the negotiations.

He seemed more hesitant to embrace the concept of a big package than McCain or Hatch but didn’t close the door on a single, comprehensive bill. In the past, that’s usually meant a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S., stricter border enforcement, a temporary worker program for industries such as agriculture and a crackdown on those who hire undocumented immigrants.

“People are interested in it. It’s going to take some time,” he said. “It’s an important issue for the country economically, it behooves us to have a 21st century immigration policy.”

Rubio said he “didn’t have anything to announce today” on how involved he’ll be with the issue, but said he was “hopeful we’ll be able to work on something.”

The Florida senator had begun to work on a Republican version of the “DREAM Act” last year before President Obama ordered temporary visas be given to some undocumented immigrants brought here as children.

Hatch, an original sponsor of the DREAM Act, voted against it in 2010, largely because of concerns about a 2012 Tea Party primary challenge.

This story was posted at 8:25 p.m. Tuesday and updated at 9:13 a.m. Wednesday.


Recently Introduced Legislation – Prepared by AILA

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

 

Introduced Legislation
 

August 1

H.R. 2730- Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act of 2011
(Bass D-CA)
Better enables State child welfare agencies to prevent human trafficking of children and serve the needs of children who are victims of human trafficking

H.R. 2763
(McDermott D-WA; Ros-Lehtinen R-FL)
Extends by two years the special rule relating to eligibility for benefits under the supplemental security income program for certain aliens and victims of trafficking. Amends section 402(a)(2)(M) of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

H.R. 2771
(Rivera R-FL)
Amends Public Law 89-732 to increase to 5 years the period during which a Cuban national must be physically present in the United States in order to qualify for adjustment of status to that of a permanent resident

August 2

S. 1506
(Rubio R-FL)
Prevents the Secretary of the Treasury from expanding United States bank reporting requirements with respect to interest on deposits paid to nonresident aliens.

August 5

H.R. 2805 – Doctors for Underserved Areas in America Act
Lofgren D-CA)
Amends Section 220 of the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994 to make the section permanent.


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