Monday, December 3, 2012

Immigration unity hits Hill reality

About that GOP epiphany on immigration after the election, there’s one small problem that could scuttle a deal: Republicans in Congress can’t even agree on what to do.

Some want piecemeal reform, picking off the most popular planks and leaving the tough stuff — like whether to give millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship — for later. Others side with Democrats in saying only a comprehensive deal will get at the problem.

The same rifts that existed long before the election are still there. So at least at this early date, there’s scant evidence that the deal that looked so promising on Nov. 7 will materialize.

“Doing a comprehensive bill is a big mistake,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said. “What you end up having is a bill that nobody likes. Everybody hates one piece of it. It’s a way to actually avoid doing what we need to do to solve the immigration problem.”

Republicans such as Labrador who favor a piece-by-piece approach believe that starting with the more politically digestible pieces could build bipartisan momentum for a broader overhaul. They also note the frustration bred by big legislative efforts such as the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

“There’s going to be a natural desire to try to pair things up” on immigration, said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the incoming Senate minority whip. “But at some point, the bill gets so big and cumbersome that I think by virtue of the size alone, that that makes it harder to pass.”

The general outlines of a comprehensive package are clear. It would include provisions on border security and law enforcement, reforms to the legal immigration system and some sort of solution for the illegal immigrants living in the United States.

It’s that last piece that Democrats fear would get left behind if Congress took apart immigration reform. A pathway to citizenship is the one thing Democrats and immigration advocates will insist on, but it’s sure to encounter the strongest GOP resistance.

“That is probably the part of immigration reform that needs the greatest reform,” said Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), the outgoing chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “That’s why I’ve never really understood that people really believe that this piecemeal thing is going to get us anywhere.”

“Why only half fix the problem? Let’s go ahead and fix the whole thing,” added California Rep. Xavier Becerra, the incoming House Democratic Caucus chairman. “If you’ve got a machine that’s not working well, you’re not going to fix just half of it and have it still not work well, let’s go ahead and fix it right.”


House Passes STEM Immigration Reform. Racialists Go Crazy

This week the House of Representatives made a positive move in reforming the US immigration process by passing the STEM Jobs Act sponsored by Lamar Smith (R-TX).

STEM Jobs Act of 2012 – Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to make up to 55,000 visas available to qualified immigrants who:
(1) have a doctorate degree in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM degree) from a U.S. university;
(2) agree to work for at least five years for the petitioning employer or in the United States in a STEM field upon being lawfully admitted for permanent residence; and
(3) have taken all doctoral courses in a STEM field, including all correspondence courses, while physically present in the United States. Makes any such unused visas available to aliens who:
(1) hold a master’s degree in a STEM field from a U.S. university;
(2) agree to work for a total of at least five years for the petitioning employer or in the United States in a STEM field upon being lawfully admitted for permanent residence;
(3) have taken all master’s degree courses in a STEM field, including all correspondence courses, while physically present in the United States; and
(4) hold a baccalaureate degree in a STEM field or in the biological and biomedical sciences.

This act does what our immigration policy should do: ensure a higher level of economic growth in the United States by encouraging the brightest and most talented students in the world to become permanent residents of the United States. It also reduces the wait for the families of the visa recipients to receive residency visas which is now at least two years.

The sponsor of the bill, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, lauded the bill’s passage.

“Many of the world’s top students come to the U.S. to obtain advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects,” he said in a statement. “We could boost economic growth and spur job creation by allowing American employers to more easily hire some of the most qualified foreign graduates of U.S. universities.  These students have the ability to start a company that creates jobs or come up with an invention that could jump-start a whole new industry.”

He also stressed the family component.

“The bill puts families first, allowing the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents to come to the U.S. after waiting one year for their green cards,” Smith said. “The current green card waiting list is over two years and it has been much longer in the past.  This provision will help keep families together rather than leave them miles apart while waiting to legally come to the U.S.”

It also eliminates the grotesque “Diversity Visa” lottery program which divvies up some 55,000 visas each year among applicants from countries that are deemed to have low immigration rates to the United States.

Now the left is all aflutter that yet another source of recruiting for the various ethnic ghettos is endangered.

“It is so disappointing [that] the majority decided to undermine an area of bipartisan agreement on STEM visas by loading up the measure with provisions that are a slap in the face to the core values of the United States,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and one of the Congress’s most vocal proponents for immigration reform policy that would provide undocumented immigrants a path to legalization.

“If you support this bill, you are saying that one group of immigrants is better than another and one type of educated, degree-holding person and their work is more important than anothers,” Gutierrez said. “In order to give visas to those with PhD’s and Masters’ Degrees, Republicans make two demands.  First, we take away visas and the only means of legal immigration (most likely) from 50,000 people who may not have PhD’s or Master’s Degrees.  Talk about picking winners and losers. My dad, if he had been an immigrant from Ireland or Nigeria or Taiwan would have been told ‘Nope.’  America is not for you. It is like when we used to have signs saying ‘Help wanted, Irish need not apply.’

It doesn’t matter that Luis Gutierrez wouldn’t recognize a core value of the United States if one leapt out of the tall grass and latched onto his butt. This statement reveals the true purpose of the Democrat’s immigration program is not to bring in persons most likely to be productive citizens, rather they are interested in bringing in people who are most likely to become government dependents if not actual wards.

His objection is in equal parts stupid and noxious. The elimination of the diversity visa program will not restrict the ability of people from any area of the world to apply for an visa to immigrate. What it will do is place everyone on the same level playing field by not not bringing in an arbitrary number of people from a few favored countries.

More important, something that Mr. Gutierrez doesn’t seem to understand, is that there is no right to immigrate. Being allowed to live and work in the United States, and to eventually become a citizen, is a privilege granted to relatively few. As a nation we have a responsibility to ensure that we bring in people that have the best chance of supporting themselves and contributing most to the nation. So he is correct that we are choosing winners and losers. The difference being is the winners this bill chooses are people with advanced degrees who speak English and who have progressed by dint of hard work. The winners Mr. Gutierrez and his ilk would choose are people at the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder who have a greater propensity to be the recipients of government largesse and become Democrat voters.

The doggerel written by Emma Lazarus that is now associated with the Statue of Liberty is not now, nor has it ever been, US immigration policy. Lamar Smith’s bill points the way forward in reforming our immigration process and ensuring we invite in potential productive citizens and not act as a receptacle for the most needy and least capable.


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