comprehensive immigration reform

House Immigration Group at Impasse

The House’s bipartisan immigration group is struggling to reach an agreement on immigration legislation. The group is divided over many aspects of the legislation including the employment verification program. Republicans want to eliminate the legalization process for undocumented immigrants if the employment verfiication program is not in place in five years. They are also divided over health care for undocumented immigrants and the number of visas to be issued to low-skilled or guest workers. Politico reports:

“I certainly will say that … there still are some outstanding issues in our negotiations,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California said in an interview Tuesday. “But I still believe that we’re so very close.”

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Gang of 8 Defends Guest Worker Plan

The Gang of Eight is banding together across party lines to fend off attacks to the guest worker program in the immigration bill. Members of the gang have been working behind the scenes to ensure only amendments they support are proposed. This has upset Democrats and Republicans who feel the bipartisan coalition has too much power over the immigration bill. Politico reports:

"One of the things that most upsets the American people about Washington is drafting a bill with special interests in secret and jamming it across the finish line in a way that minimizes public involvement and input,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said recently. “This legislation needs improvement and openness.”

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On Scripture: When 'Homeland Security' Keeps Us From Encountering God

spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

Thousands gather to rally for immigration reform in Los Angeles, spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

We return to the benefits of connecting with others, and the dangers of allowing society to drift into one in which we count it too dangerous to trust.

Jesus’ prayer affirms this: I need other people. I do, if I want the chance to experience union with God and plunge into the heart of what God is about. And I don’t need only other people who are like me; love requires me to attend to a wider group. When I’m very different from someone else and yet we manage to live into an authentic unity supported by trust, we may gain a glimpse into God’s own wideness, perhaps discovering God to be more than we predicted.

For Jesus does not limit the venues for encountering God to churches and to groups of familiar people. What keeps it from being possible in public life, as well? It must be possible to encounter God there, given the world’s need to know God (verse 25) and God’s love for the world.

1 in 10 Los Angeles Residents Are Undocumented

A study by the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration used California as a microcosm to see how immigration reform would affect America. The study estimated that 7 percent of California residents were undocumented. In Los Angeles County the number jumped to 10 percent. Christian Science Monitor reports:

“What sticks out to me about this report is that it shows how many immigrants have been in the country more than 10 years that are not just migrants, and who have children born here who are naturalized citizens,” says Michael Moreland.

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Conservatives Back Immigration Reform

Conservatives have united around immigration reform. Over two dozen signed a statement supporting legislation to overhaul US immigration laws. They feel the current Senate legislation is a "importnat starting point." The Associated Press reports:

In a statement being released Thursday, the officials say: "Simply opposing immigration reform should not be the conservative response to this problem. We believe conservatives should be leading the way on this issue by supporting legislation that upholds conservative principles."

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Republicans Demand Stronger Border Security in Immigration Bill

Republicans are pushing for stronger border security measures in the immigration bill. Stronger border security measures could win more Republican votes, but it would also alienate some democratic votes. The bill currently calls for the hiring of 3,500 more Customs and Border Protection agents and employ more border fencing, cameras, drones and radar systems to detect illegal crossings. The Los Angeles Times reports:

"If, in fact, the American people can't trust that the border is controlled, you're never going to be able to pass this bill," Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affair.

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Conservatives Split on Immigration Reform

The Heritage Foundation released a study on Monday that estimate the bipartisan immigration proposal being considered in the Senate would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion. Other conservative groups were quick to denounce the study for overlooking the role immgiatn workers would play in growing the economy. The Washington Post reports:

“The Heritage Foundation document is a political document. It’s not very serious analysis,” said former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, a Republican who is involved in a bipartisan group that supports immigration law reform. “The study is designed to try to scare conservative Republicans into thinking the costs will be so gigantic you can’t possibly be for it.”

The study could determine the future of the immigration proposal and the success or failure of immigration reform. Conservatives help stop immgiration reform in 2007 but now in a different political climate, some are hopeful supporting immgiration reform will help with outreach to Latino and Asian American communities.

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Four Additional Hurdles for Immigration Reform

Now that the Senate's Gang of Eight has published its immigration proposal TIME has put together four hurdles to the bill becoming law.

Problem #1: Stalling tactics from the right. Conservatives may stall the bill calling for "more hearings, more transparency, more opportunities to tweak the legislation to their liking"

Problem #2: Pushback from the left. Immigrants rights groups feel the 13-year path to citizenship is too long and gay-rights advocates want greater protections fro same-sex couples.

Problem #3: The cost for taxpayers. The cost of immigration reform has not been officially calculated. Conservatives are touting a large price tag as a reason to derail the legislation.

Problem #4: The conservative media storyline. Conservative media remains split between those who support immigration reform out of "sheer political imperative" and those who hope to divide the Gang of Eight.

For more indepth explanations of each hurdle, click here.

Polls Find Americans are Disengaged from Immigration Debate

A new Pew Research Center poll found fewer than half of Americans are very or fairly closely following the immigration debate. 38 percent have no opinion on the Senate mesaure recently intoduced by the "Gang of Eight." The lack of public engagement allows for both opponents and supporters to sway public opinion. The Washington Post reports:

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that nearly all of the big individual aspects of the “Gang of Eight” bill won majority support, a sign that proponents can have the potential for success in selling their measure. But given that most people 1) aren’t familiar with bill right now and 2) haven’t made up their minds about it as a package, there remains ample opportunity for opponents to strike.

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Dozens of May Day Rallies for Immigration Reform Planned Across Country

May Day rallies are planned across the country urging Congress to ease the nation's immigration laws. Although the rallies won't be as large as demonstrations in 2006 and 2007, groups have focused heavily on calling and writing congressional representatives. Activists feel more their ongoing targeted campaigns at congresional representatives and demonstrations are the most effective way to achieve immigration reform. The Associated Press reports:

A phone blitz targeting Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch produced 100 calls a day to the Utah lawmaker's office last week, said Jeff Parcher, communications director for the Center for Community Change, which works on technology-driven advocacy for the network of groups. After Hatch was quoted Sunday in The Salt Lake Tribune saying immigration reform couldn't wait, a message went out to call his office with thanks.

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