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US Congress to Take Harder Line on Illegal Immigration

 
 
 
 
 
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The end of the year means a turnover of House control from Democratic to Republican and, with it, Congress’ approach to immigration.

In a matter of weeks, Congress will go from trying to help young, illegal immigrants become legal to debating whether children born to parents who are in the country illegally should continue to enjoy automatic U.S. citizenship.

Such a hardened approach – and the rhetoric certain to accompany it – should resonate with the GOP faithful who helped swing the House in Republicans’ favor. But it also could further hurt the GOP in its endeavor to grab a large enough share of the growing Latino vote to win the White House and the Senate majority in 2012.

Legislation to test interpretations of the 14th Amendment as granting citizenship to children of illegal immigrants will emerge early next session. That is likely to be followed by attempts to force employers to use a still-developing web system, dubbed E-Verify, to check that all of their employees are in the U.S. legally.

There could be proposed curbs on federal spending in cities that don’t do enough to identify people who are in the country illegally and attempts to reduce the numbers of legal immigrants. Democrats ended the year failing for a second time to win passage of the Dream Act, which would have given hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a chance at legal status.

House Republicans will try to fill the immigration reform vacuum left by Democrats with legislation designed to send illegal immigrants packing and deter others from trying to come to the U.S.

Democrats, who will still control the Senate, will be playing defense against harsh immigration enforcement measures, mindful of their need to keep on good footing with Hispanic voters. But a slimmer majority and an eye on 2012 may prevent Senate Democrats from bringing to the floor any sweeping immigration bill, or even a limited one that hints at providing legal status to people in the country illegally.

President Barack Obama could be a wild card.

He’ll have at his disposal his veto power should a bill denying citizenship to children of illegal immigrants make it to his desk. But Obama also has made cracking down on employers a key part of his administration’s immigration enforcement tactics.

Hispanic voters and their allies will look for Obama to broker a deal on immigration as he did on tax cuts and health care. After the Dream Act failed in the Senate this month, Obama said his administration would not give up on the measure. “At a minimum we should be able to get Dream done. So I’m going to go back at it,” he said.

The president has taken heavy hits in Spanish-language and ethnic media for failing to keep his promise to address immigration promptly and taking it off the agenda last summer. His administration’s continued deportations of immigrants – a record 393,000 in the 2010 fiscal year – have also made tenuous his relationship with Hispanic voters.

John Morton, who oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a recent conference call that there are no plans to change the agency’s enforcement tactics, which are focused on immigrants who commit crimes but also have led to detaining and deporting many immigrants who have not committed crimes.

The agency also will continue to expand Secure Communities, the program that allows immigration officials to check fingerprints of all people booked into jail to see if they are in the country illegally. Both illegal immigrants and residents can end up being deported under the program, which the Homeland Security Department hopes to expand nationwide by 2013.

Many of those attending a recent gathering of conservative Hispanics in Washington warned that another round of tough laws surrounded by ugly anti-immigrant discussions could doom the GOP’s 2012 chances.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a possible 2012 candidate, cited Meg Whitman’s failed gubernatorial bid in California despite her high spending. When 22 percent of the electorate is Latino, candidates can’t win without a vigorous presence in the Hispanic community and a “message that is understandable and involves respect,” Gingrich said. Even so, Gingrich was unwilling to call on his fellow Republican senators to drop their opposition to the Dream Act, saying the legislation should not have been considered without giving lawmakers a chance to amend it.

The next Congress will be populated with many newcomers elected on a platform of tougher immigration enforcement. They’ll have ready ears in Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who will chair the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who is expected to chair the committee’s immigration subcommittee.

That’s a recipe for more measures aimed at immigration enforcement, including requiring businesses to use E-Verify rather than eyeballing paper documents to check workers’ citizenship and legal residency status.

“I’ve already told the business community it’s going to happen,” said Beto Cardenas, executive counsel to Americans for Immigration Reform, a coalition of business leaders who support overhauling immigration laws. Changes to immigration law contained in appropriations and authorization bills, where immigration enforcement hawks are likely to tuck some measures, would also be tough to reject.

But more controversial measures such as attempts to deny citizenship to children of people who are in the U.S. without permission could be tempered by GOP leaders aware of the need to curry more favor with Hispanic voters.

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  • Truth

    The republicans do not have the votes to change the 14th amendment and that is the real reason why nothing will happen on that front. Look at the votes required to change the constitution, they don’t have it and they never will again.

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  • JamesTheJust

    Its all smoke and mirrors. While the faces change, the real power behind the scene does not.

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  • Francis

    If the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Congress and the White House are really serious about stopping the massive financial baggage of illegal immigration, why have they not overruled Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and mandate the computer verification program? E-Verify must be considered an invaluable tool to reject both existing working and new hires foreigners, who are in the mainstream of the workforce, taking jobs from birthright citizens, naturalized citizens and legal residents. Illegal Immigration cannot be separated from Obamacare or the terrible education predicament we are in? When many States are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, we must start to erect some of barrier against the continuous influx of illegal aliens and their families looking for work and a better life, when Americans and legitimate immigrants must come first.

    When talking about spiraling taxes, when governors are looking for more revenue, they have not the backbone to explain that large portions of taxpayers’ money is being siphoned off to support birthright citizenship of babies, specifically in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico. But then every state today is exposed to illegal immigrants being transported throughout our country. Once here the county hospitals are bombarded with new arrivals in the emergency rooms with obviously no insurance and placing the whole financial measure on taxpayers. Emergency rooms are inundated with illegal people with sore throats and carrying flue germs and not such things as appendicitis or serious injuries. Let me repeat these web-pages at http://www.jpands.org/vol10no1/cosman.pdf defines the issue as a monolithic concern for hospitals across the United States. Read this Health Care report and start spitting blood and bile.

    Along the border many hospitals have sunk into insolvency, as they can no longer finance the incessant flow of illegal aliens, as in the majority of cases the Federal government has failed to reimburse fees. Education for illegal alien children to K-12 is a major problem forced on us by illogical laws, as without permanent residency the students cannot claim any rights to any further education. In the Sanctuary state of California the schools are overcrowded with children from across its border, which on arrival have no conception of the English language or American culture. In that by court order these children must be educated, the education of American children has sunk to a new low as teachers are expected to give them full support. The GAO fully supports a upgraded version of E-Verify, no matter how the Liberal-Democrats smear its operations.

    There is continuous innovation to its ability to locate illegal labor, which is not just workers on farms, but in Janitorial services, construction, and entertainment and service companies. Not “just jobs that Americans won’t do” but jobs found in Casino’s, factories and not just poorly paid employment. E-Verify has expanded its Photo Matching Tool and stopped accepting expired documents from the I-9 form. The (GAO)(Government Accountability Office’s) reports that E-Verify is still susceptible to fraud, enabling illegal labor who engage in identity theft or fraud to trick the system into authorizing them for work. The GAO has considered biometrics as a possible solution, so it’s a surprise and disappointment that they have overlooked the obvious: NumbersUSA has addressed this by saying “the Social Security Administration could seal the loophole almost entirely if it would simply notify workers with more than one employer making contributions to their social security account numbers.

    Then ask them to report if they were not actually working for each of those employers. SSA, however, has a policy of not informing the victims of identity theft.” Obviously–in time the E-Verification operation will become even more accurate in finding and removing illegal workers. The question should be asked, if that worker is disqualified, why should this not reported to ICE to follow up as names and addresses to chase down that worker, to see if they are legitimately in the US? When 15 million Americans are jobless, it seems commonsense to locate these people for deportation? Sometimes I wonder who either political party is working for. The amazing fact to me is why it’s not a felony to enter a country without permission, or why E-Verify is not a reducer of foreign aliens taking jobs of Americans.

    The Tea Party and its advocates in Congress and in State Capitols should demand that E-Verify be applied in every business and an annual check of all workers, as the HMS and SSA program becomes more proficient in seeking out illegal aliens working under bogus documents. Communicate your major concern about the Dream Act, illegal Immigration, and Amnesty through the Washington switchboard to be connected at 202-224-3121. Learn more in depth information at NumbersUSA.

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  • Child O’ the Corm!

    They mean death squads will be released to deal with opponents of their policy of contrived migration.

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  • Patrick

    Send these racist invaders from Mexico back to there home racist country.
    We have no place for racist, that includes no room for zionist supremacist.

    Race is a beautiful and healthy thing created by the hand of God. Do not hate that which His hand has made…

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