Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Senators Roll Out Immigration Reform Proposal

Another secretive gang of eight in the U.S. Senate has emerged from behind closed doors and presented what is described as a bipartisan approach to immigration reform.  The continued use of legislating with these small, shadowy groups is disturbing but now we have to hope some meaningful reform will begin to be discussed.

The members of the panel are four Democrats: Senators Schumer, Durbin, Menendez and Bennet.  The Republicans are: Senators McCain, Graham, Rubio and Flake. It would seem we have seen this show before.

The proposal is quite close to the reform that former President George W Bush tried to move forward in 2007.  This was quickly shut down by both Republicans and Democrats.  Democrats certainly didn't want a Republican president to lead such major reform that will affect future voting populations.  HERE are the four specific points of the current proposal:

1. Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;

2. Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
3. Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
4. Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
It looks good on paper but it is easy for Republicans to be skeptical working with this very liberal President and Senate leadership.  It is easy to realize that the safeguards of accountability over border security and reforming visas will be tossed to the curb when it is all done.  Democrats do not support accountability measures, as a general rule.  This president is far to eager to ram through sweeping legislation rather than allowing Congress to do its job and provide sensible and workable solutions.  Remember Obamacare?  Obama's legacy is more important to him than the future needs of our country.

The senators rolled out their framework for immigration reform Monday, the day before President Obama traveled to Las Vegas (why?) to deliver his own speech containing his proposal.  He has a habit of overreaching, this president. He compliments the senators for their work then goes on to muddy the issue with his own words.  The legislative body should be able to present and debate the issue on its own.  Even the Congressional Hispanic caucus asked Obama to not give his speech, to let the debate blossom and not muck things up. So, naturally, his ego made the decision.  He flew to Vegas and bloviated.

As he was interviewed Tuesday morning, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said on getting out in front of the president's speech in Las Vegas on immigration reform: "If people don't know where you stand on something, your opposition will say where you stand and I guarantee they will not tell the truth."

The two Texas senators- both Republicans-  have exhibited restraint in their support of the reform measure put forth.  Senior Senator John Cornyn expressed concern that citizenship for those here illegally would allow them to jump the line over those doing it the legal way:

Speaking on Andrea Tantaros’ radio show Tuesday, Cornyn said he didn’t “want to discourage” the bipartisan effort by the eight senators, but he added: “I do worry that people get the cart ahead of the horse and start talking about a pathway to citizenship before they talk about the prerequisites to that — and really what I would consider to be necessary confidence building measures — to show that the federal government and Congress can be trusted when it comes to border security, when it comes to work site enforcement and when it comes to visa overstays, which accounts for about 40 percent of immigration currently.”
Cornyn also said he thinks the solution, if possible, should come from the Judiciary Committee and was skeptical of a plan crafted “behind closed doors.

Newly elected Senator Ted Cruz also expressed concern about the process put forth for a pathway to citizenship. The statement released by his office:

I appreciate the good work that senators in both parties have put into trying to fix our broken immigration system. There are some good elements in this proposal, especially increasing the resources and manpower to secure our border and also improving and streamlining legal immigration. However, I have deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship. To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally.

This sums it up as to how many conservatives and Republicans brace for the upcoming legislative battle:
If we’ve learned anything from the 1986 amnesty, it is that trust but verify is not going to cut it when it comes to illegal immigration policy.  We need inviolable enforcement mechanisms on the enforcement side before we are prepared to make painful concessions.  Otherwise, comprehensive immigration reform will look a lot like comprehensive healthcare reform.  And we will be having this same debate in 20 years from now, albeit with a permanent Democrat majority.

This is just beginning.  Stay tuned.  Pay attention.

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