Friday, June 28, 2013

A Bigger Wall

(Editorial cartoon by Jim Morin / Miami Herald (June 14, 2013) and featured at McClatchy DC.)

The Senate passed an immigration bill yesterday, one that has been in the works for months.  Some moderate Republicans worked with Democrats to craft the bill, and while it's not the greatest, it does provide a framework for those undocumented workers already here to attain citizenship.  In that regard, it's a step forward.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Senate was on track to approve a sweeping immigration overhaul Thursday, but the landmark legislation has dim hopes in the GOP-controlled House despite drawing significant Republican support with the addition of $46 billion in border security.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has no immediate plans to consider the legislation, in large part because it would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country without legal status, which his GOP majority opposes. House Republicans are drafting their own bills. ...

Senate Republicans have split over the bill that was crafted by a bipartisan group that included one of their upcoming leaders, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential presidential hopeful.

Some see the legislation as important in their outreach to Latino voters, but for many Republicans, the measure's unprecedented “border surge” of drones, troops and fencing along the boundary with Mexico did not convince them future illegal immigration would diminish.

The Senate’s top Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voted no.

“It’s with a great deal of regret, for me at least, that the final bill didn’t turn out to be something I can support,” McConnell said. “If you can’t be reasonably certain that the border is secure as a condition of legalization, there’s just no way to be sure that millions more won’t follow the illegal immigrants who are already here.” ...

Under the legislation, immigrants would be able to transition to legal permanent resident status with green cards in 10 years, once the border has been bolstered with 24-hour drones, 20,000 new Border Patrol officers and 700 miles of fence, among other measures. They must also have paid fines and fees, know English and be in good standing after undergoing background checks.

Because 40% of the immigrants in the country illegally did not cross borders but stayed on expired visas, a new visa exit system would be required at all major airports.   [Emphasis added]

The sticking point with many Senate Republicans and with most House Republicans is, of course, the idea that some of those already here might receive "amnesty" for the misdeed of entering the country illegally or overstaying a visa.  Even those brought here as young children aren't entitled to the "dream" of being able to stay without fear of summary deportation.

And that border fence?  Well, let's just say that it's one of the few bits of proposed legislation coming out of this Congress that has some actual job creation embedded into it.

Of course, the House Republicans are having none of it.  They intend to craft their own bill(s) which in all likelihood will never even come to a vote if Boehner continues to operate under the Hastert Rule of not bringing up an legislation which will not pass.  Anything more draconian than the Senate bill will not pass.

Still, at least moderate Republicans have something to point at when election time rolls around as evidence of reaching out to Hispanics.  It ain't much, but it's something.

Note:  The text of the bill in pdf is located here.

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