Tag Archives: House Homeland Security Committee

On Dinosaurs- Can Immigration Reform Pass the House?

18 Nov

We have heard lots of talk about the need for bipartisan immigration reform in the new Congress.  We have heard that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will work with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) on a new bill for introduction in the Senate.  The Senate was five votes away from passing the DREAM Act in 2010, so it is possible to believe that the new political reality has jolted preservation-minded conservatives in the Senate to support common sense immigration reform.  But what about the House of Representatives?  What about the Tea Party supported freshman class determined to oppose compromise at all costs.  Well, their leaders seem to be telling them to compromise, but will they?   While Hannity and Krauthammer may be thought leaders in the GOP, they do not actually get a vote.

Speaker John Boehner “expressed optimism” that immigration reform could pass this Congress.  Well, he should know.  It is his caucus in the House that needs to be pulled along, kicking and screaming, to get common sense immigration reform through the House.  The restrictionists are counting on the Republican majority in the House to be their firewall against reform.  NumbersUSA president Roy Beck, a restrictionist, told the Los Angeles Times, “We have quite a bit of assurance that comprehensive immigration reform won’t pass the next Congress.  All of this is just national talk.  The House is not about national talk. It is about one district at a time.”  What gives Beck such confidence?  For one thing, the House has a 93 member “Immigration Reform Caucus,” dedicated to promoting the worst nativist and restrictionist views on immigration.  Many caucus members, such as Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Steve King (R-IA), have held leadership positions on immigration issues.  Second, the Chairmanship of the House Subcommittee on Immigration is due to pass to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), another anti-immigrant zealot (his check for membership dues in the caucus must have bounced, as he is not a member).

Who is Mr. Goodlatte?  He is a ten term Congressman from Virginia Shenandoah Valley, which lies between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachians and was where a friendly population helped Stonewall Jackson defeat much larger Union armies.  On his webpage, Mr. Goodlatte writes of immigration:

Legal immigration has blessed our nation with talent, diversity, and a commitment to freedom and the rule of law.  However, illegal immigration mocks that law and our system of justice.  It is estimated that there are over 10 million illegal aliens currently living in our country.  Illegal immigration costs our taxpayers billions of dollars every year, while taking jobs from law-abiding citizens and legal residents.  We must crack down on illegal immigration and enforce our current immigration laws.  In addition, we must not grant amnesty to individuals who have broken our laws.

Mr Goodlatte also brags about supporting all of the terrible ideas on immigration that have enthralled the most extreme elements of the Republican party.  If Republicans think that immigration reform is their way to a more electable future, it will not be achieved with dinosaurs like Goodlatte leading the way.

If the Party is serious about changing its tune on immigration, it would do well to marginalize extremists such as Goodlatte, Steve King and Lamar Smith and to empower those few moderates, such as Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), who have positive track records on immigration.  In addition, last week’s victory by Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) over Tom Price (R-GA) for the fourth top Republican slot augurs well that the GOP leadership is serious about marginalizing its extremists.

Napolitano: Deferred Action Applications Will Be Available on August 15

19 Jul

Today, 104 Democratic Members of Congress released a letter to President Barack Obama thanking him for his decision to instruct the Department of Homeland Security to offer “Deferred Action” deportation relief to young immigrants raised in the U.S. who would qualify for the DREAM Act.

The Members of Congress wrote:

We recognize that there are those who will want to take the power of discretion away from you and the Executive branch. Like you, we agree that you are on solid moral, legal, and political ground and we will do everything within our power to defend your actions and the authority that you, like past Presidents, can exercise to set enforcement priorities and better protect our neighborhoods and our nation.

The letter was largely to show support for the new policy ahead of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s testimony in front of a largely hostile House Homeland Security Oversight Committee.

Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee continue to believe that the President usurped Congressional authority with his announcement to not deport Dreamers and threatened to take DHS Sec. Napolitano to court over her June 15 memo.

Rep. Steve King was especially hostile:

Napolitano countered criticism regarding the deferred action program by noting that this was an evolution of a process that began in 2010 and reiterated that the announcement comes on the heels of various memos: the Meissner memo from Legacy INS, Julie Myers Memo, and the Morton Memo.

“I will not rescind it. It is right within the law.”

With regards to deferred action, Napolitano said that applications will be available on August 15 and added in her testimony that:

Individuals must also complete a biographic and biometric background check and not currently in removal proceedings or subject to a final order, must be 15 years or older to be considered for deferred action. Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be considered for deferred action under this initiative. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States or cannot prove that they have continuously resided within the United States for at least five years.

Napolitano reiterated that the program will not cost American taxpayers because there will be a fee for the process (in addition to the $380 for work authorization and $80 for biometrics). It is important to note that DHS has not yet decided the cost of the application.

When Rep. Quayle (R-Arizona) pressed her on the issue, Sec. Napolitano stated there may be a hardship fee-waiver process in some cases. However, she did clarify that there will not be a broad fee waiver process but that people may be granted waivers in exceptional circumstances.

The Congressional Research Service also released an analysis of the June 15 memo, which is available here. Among other important things, the CRS notes that Dreamers who are granted deferred action may be able to work but are not entitled to federally-funded public assistance, such as “retirement, welfare, health,disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual,household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States.”

The DHS will put out additional guidelines on August 1.

For more on deferred action, please see our Dream Act Deferred Action website.