Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Gets in the Way of U.S. Immigration Reform

A useful summary below but it ignores the elephant in the room:  Republicans would be out of their minds to add millions more of Democrat voters to the voter lists.  Hispanics are their own worst enemy.  The big majority are and will remain poor so will always vote Democrat even if Republicans do an octopus job of "reaching out"

There's been lots of talk about legislation, but reform could face significant roadblocks in Congress.

The Gang of Eight is drafting principles. The White House says immigration reform could be in the State of the Union. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is planning Judiciary hearings. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO have joined hands to push for action. There's no shortage of political will to get immigration reform done in this Congress, but attempts at an overhaul of the system have failed before, and lawmakers still have several major hurdles to overcome this time.  Here are a few:

A path to citizenship versus legal status: This is the single most divisive issue that lawmakers will have to overcome. Democrats, in general, will demand that any legislation include a path to citizenship (this is also a priority for the AFL-CIO). Many Republicans, on the other hand, remain staunchly opposed to anything resembling amnesty. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a Nevada news outlet that a bipartisan group of senators “have agreed tentatively on a path to citizenship, which is the big stumbling block.” But it remains to be seen whether that agreement would be acceptable to the entire Congress.

Comprehensive versus piecemeal reform: Proponents say a comprehensive package is the only way to fix the system. It’s also a top priority of the president and the aim of the Gang of Eight—Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and newly elected Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. But a comprehensive bill also gives everyone something to hate. Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, say it will be easier to tackle different reforms in smaller bills because different coalitions will support each piece.

Inclusion of a guest-worker program: Disagreement over granting foreign workers temporary visas to work in the United States has historically separated business and labor groups, but the two are trying to find common ground this time. Jeff Hauser, spokesman for the AFL-CIO—which has opposed such programs in the past—said his group is talking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about ways to create a depoliticized body to manage the future flow of workers.

The Hastert Rule: While a number of high-profile Republicans such as McCain have worked on immigration reform for years, it’s still likely that legislation will have more Democratic than Republican support. But House Speaker John Boehner has generally run the House in the style of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, always ensuring that a majority of the majority party supports legislation before bringing it to the floor. The rule was violated to get the fiscal-cliff legislation passed. Redistricting after the 2010 election put more and more lawmakers into safe districts, meaning they have less incentive to compromise. So it may not be possible for Boehner to get a majority of the majority to back immigration reform.

A crowded agenda: The temporary nature of the deal produced to avert the fiscal cliff means that within the first few months of the year, Congress will have to negotiate a deal to raise the debt ceiling, deal with the sequester, and fund the government. President Obama is also pushing gun control as a top priority. With limited time before legislators start focusing on their 2014 midterm races, there might not be enough oxygen for immigration reform to happen this year as well.

Plain old politics: There’s a reason that immigration reform has failed so many times: It’s a tough political nut to crack, and can bring out ugliness and name-calling on both sides of the aisle. At a Politico Pro event Tuesday, Labrador suggested that Obama wanted a political victory instead of a policy victory—which may be easier if nothing gets done and Republicans get the blame.

That’s not the way Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a longtime immigration-reform advocate, sees it. “I have had Republicans say they don't want Obama to do a bill because they want flexibility, but if he doesn't do a bill, he's criticized,” she said at the event. She says she’s just waiting for Boehner to get the ball rolling. “It's not that tough, it's just the decision to do it,” she said.


Our town's like a foreign country: Locals can't cope with all the immigrants, says British mother after TV clash with academic

A mother who tackled a leading historian on live television about immigration insisted last night that her family’s home town has become like a ‘foreign country’.

On BBC1’s Question Time, Professor Mary Beard dismissed stories about the number of migrant workers overwhelming Boston as ‘myths’ and said ‘public services can cope’.

But Rachel Bull, an office manager in Boston, who  was in the audience, immediately challenged the Cambridge University classics professor, claiming hospitals and schools are struggling to cope in the Lincolnshire agricultural town.

Mrs Bull – whose grandparents moved to Britain from Poland after the Second World War – said that she is not against immigration, but believes ministers should reconsider allowing Romanians and Bulgarians unrestricted rights to live and work in the UK from December 2013.

After Professor Beard – known to millions for the BBC2 series Meet the Romans – told Question Time on Thursday night she believed local services in Boston are able to cope, Mrs Bull raised her hand and said: ‘I’m sorry, I really disagree.’

She told the panel, which was sitting in Lincoln: ‘I have a business in Boston, I have family that live in Boston and we’ve got land at Boston and we’ve had major issues with workers who’ve got nowhere to go, camping on our land and we can’t move them off because the police aren’t interested. Boston is at breaking point. All the locals can’t cope any more – the services, doctors’ surgeries, hospitals.

‘I have a family member that’s a midwife at Boston Pilgrim Hospital. The facilities are at breaking point because of these people coming into the country and nothing is being done. You go down to Boston High Street and it’s just like you’re in a foreign country. And it’s got to stop.’

Yesterday Mrs Bull said that Boston, which has a population of around 61,000, is too small to cope with such a large number of migrants, now thought to number 9,000.

She added: ‘The problem is we’re not like these politicians or other people on television, we’re on the frontline. I’ve not been to university, I’m just a 35-year-old who spoke from the heart.’

Mrs Bull, whose  family has a retirement home business, said she is worried that more migrants from Romania and Bulgaria will make the problems worse.  She said many workers head to the area on the promise of work, but end up without employment or money.

Mrs Bull, who has a 10-year-old son, said: ‘They are going to come to Boston because of the landworkers, the farms and agriculture, that’s where they would get work.

‘But we’ve got so many homeless on the streets, this town has so many problems that are just being swept under the carpet and the locals are crying out. Someone needs to help us.

‘I don’t want it to be about them and us. We all want to work together as one, but when resources are stretched that’s when the animosity starts, and we don’t want that.’ Mrs Bull, who now lives elsewhere in Lincolnshire, said her family has had repeated problems with migrants camping on their land and that it has been impossible to get help from the authorities and police to move them.

'I don't want it to be about them and us... but when resources are stretched that's when the animosity starts, and we don't want that'

She said: ‘My dad and brother used to go there every day as my dad speaks Polish, to explain to them that they have to move on because we were getting complaints from environmental health, and local residents were complaining about the mess they were leaving. There were empty bottles, human faeces, needles.

‘We felt sorry for them as there was a young couple who had been promised work, they’d been dropped off in  Boston, had their passports taken off them, they had no money, and they were just left stranded.  ‘We gave them a bit of money for them to get some food and drink to help them out, but the numbers just grew.’

Mrs Bull’s grandfather was a flight sergeant who fought for Britain, flying Lancaster Bombers and Mosquitoes.

She said her family is proud of its background and enjoy pierogi – traditional dumplings – from the local Polish shops.

She said: ‘We just want help from the Government, and we want them to reconsider when the Romanians and the  Bulgarians come in.’


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