Written by Federation for American Immigration Reform
Right Side News reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform on comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
The Obama Administration has kept U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Public Advocate Andrew Lorenzen-Strait in his role despite President Obama signing legislation earlier this year that eliminated the position. (Fox News, Sept. 5, 2013)
Congress eliminated the Public Advocate position in March as part of the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013,” legislation to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. (See Public Law 113-6, Mar. 26, 2013; see also H.R. 933) Indeed, Section 567 of the Act reads, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide funding for the position of Public Advocate within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
Nonetheless, the Administration has defied its own law by simply changing the name of Lorenzen-Strait’s position while keeping the same job description. (Fox News, Sept. 5, 2013) He is now the Deputy Assistant Director of Custody Programs and Community Outreach, where he performs the same duties as the now defunct Public Advocate position. (Id.)
Created in February 2012, the Public Advocate’s job was to serve as a point of contact for aliens in removal proceedings, community and advocacy groups, and others who have concerns, questions, recommendations or other issues they would like to raise about the Administration’s executive amnesty efforts. (ICE Press Release, Feb. 7, 2012; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 13, 2012)
Representative Diane Black (R-TN), the Congresswoman responsible for getting the language to gut the Public Advocate position into the FY2013 funding bill, called the Administration’s move in reinstating the post under a new name a waste of taxpayer dollars. “Using taxpayer dollars to fund a position whose primary purpose is to advocate on behalf of individuals who have broken our laws and entered our country illegally is ridiculous and certainly a waste of precious taxpayers’ money,” said Rep. Black. (Fox News, Sept. 5, 2013) “[The Obama Administration is] setting a dangerous precedent by breaking the very law he signed, and this kind of abuse of power will only undermine his agenda by destroying his credibility with Congress and the American people.” (Id.)
Pro-amnesty Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is requesting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to stop enforcing immigration laws against illegal farm workers and their employers. (The Hill, Sept. 4, 2013)
In a letter to outgoing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Feinstein urged ICE to replicate for farm workers the administration’s policy halting deportations of illegal aliens who claim to have been brought to the country as minors known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “I respectfully suggest that you adopt a similar policy of exercising prosecutorial discretion to defer enforcement against agricultural employers and workers, and concentrate instead on removing those who would and have harmed our society, rather than those who contribute to our vital agricultural economy and heritage, and the safe and high-quality food supply that benefits all Americans,” Feinstein wrote. (Id.)
Feinstein, whose home state has approximately 81,000 farms, co-authored the agricultural amnesty portion of the Senate’s “comprehensive” immigration reform bill with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Gang of Eight Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). (Id.)
In a memo outlining the House of Representatives’ fall agenda, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) provided no further insight as to when the lower chamber will address immigration. (National Journal, Sept. 8, 2013)
Sent to his House colleagues Friday, the Majority Leader’s memo repeated the same GOP talking points regarding immigration, stating the borders need to be secured and laws enforced. Summed up in just three sentences, the Leader’s message to fellow House Republicans was:
We know that the current legal immigration system is broken and should be fixed in a deliberate and responsible manner. That is why the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees have produced a number of specific bills which the House may begin considering this fall. Before we consider any other reforms, it is important that we pass legislation securing our borders and providing enforcement mechanisms to our law enforcement officials. (See Roll Call, Sept. 6, 2013)(emphasis added)
Undoubtedly, Cantor’s reference to first passing legislation “securing our borders and providing enforcement mechanisms to our law enforcement officials” refer to bills already passed through House Committees—H.R. 1417, the “Border Security Results Act,” and H.R. 2278, the “SAFE Act”.
As anticipated, the Majority Leader’s priorities for the months of September and October include those with firm deadlines. These consist of ensuring the federal the government remains funded into the 2014 fiscal year (which ends Sept. 30), addressing the nation’s debt ceiling (which is deemed to be reached by mid-October by the Treasury Secretary), and voting on whether to engage in military action in Syria (which Cantor says the House will vote on within the “next two weeks”). (Id.)
In the meantime, the open borders and pro-amnesty lobbies have vowed to continue pressuring the House to act on immigration. The groups plan to host pro-amnesty rallies in cities across the country on October 5, and a rally in Washington, D.C. October 8. (New York Times, Sept. 8, 2013) “We’re gearing up for late October — we’re going to push really hard for votes this fall and negotiations with the Senate,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of pro-amnesty America’s Voice. (Id.)
Arizona’s two Republican Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are willing to negotiate with the House of Representatives in order to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform. McCain and Flake told a forum in Mesa, Arizona they were fine with the House’s piece-meal approach provided the two Chambers go to conference with their respective pieces of legislation. (CQ Today, Aug. 27, 2013)
However, the two Senators, both members of the Senate Gang of Eight, indicated that citizenship for illegal aliens as part of an amnesty deal is non-negotiable. “A fundamental principle of this legislation is it has to contain a path to citizenship,” McCain said. (Id.) “We would be amenable to negotiations on various aspects” of how the path to citizenship would work, McCain said. (Id.) “Ours is not engraved in concrete.” (Id.)
Remarkably, the Arizona duo admitted their bill encourages employers to hire amnestied illegal aliens over U.S. citizens. “You have a bit of a quandary here,” Flake said. (Id.) “If we were to say that individuals who come here on a work permit or those who were just made legal had access to federal benefits like Obamacare, you’d have an outcry.” (Id.) Because amnestied illegal aliens are ineligible for Obamacare under the Senate bill, employers would not be subject to $5,000 in fines for not providing health insurance to amnestied illegal aliens.
Although the House only has 36 scheduled working days left this year and a full agenda of other issues to address, Sen. McCain said he is “guardedly optimistic” the House will pass an amnesty bill. (The Daily Caller, Aug. 27, 2013) “I think there’ll be plenty of time to sort it out if we do not succeed.” (Id.; compare FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 4, 2013)
Hundreds of true immigration reformers rallied in House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) district over the weekend, telling him to oppose amnesty and reject efforts to expand foreign guest worker programs.
Organized byOhio Citizens for Sensible Immigration, Grassroots Rally Team of Ohio, and Southwest Ohio Patriots,the Saturday rally included guests from throughout the true immigration reform movement. Emceeing the event was radio personality Doc Thompson, and guest speakers included Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, National Director of the Remembrance Project Maria Espinoza, Rockingham County North Carolina Sheriff Sam Page, Director of America for Lawful Immigration Solutions Today Luis Pozzolo, and Ohio State Representatives Matt Lynch (OH-76) and Wes Retherford (OH-51) among others. Musical guest Madison Rising also played at the event, rounding out the event. (See event page here)
The message sent to Speaker Boehner at the widely attended event included no amnesty for illegal aliens, protect American workers by saying no to increased foreign labor, and no comprises or conference with the 1,200 page Senate “comprehensive” immigration reform bill.
Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Governor Pat McCrory’s veto of the omnibus immigration bill, HB 786. (Governor’s Veto Statement, Aug. 15, 2013) The House overrode the veto by a vote of 84 to 32 on Tuesday; the following day, with less than six minutes of consideration, the Senate overrode the veto by a vote of 39 to 5. (HB 786 Vote History) With the necessary three-fifths vote to override the veto in both houses achieved, HB 786 became law effective immediately. (News Observer, Sept. 5, 2013)
HB 786 amends North Carolina’s E-Verify mandate that was passed in 2011. E-Verify is a free, web-based system through which employers may verify the work authorization of new hires through existing federal records. Congress created E-Verify in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (“IIRIRA”) of 1996 as a way to help employers comply with the federal ban on hiring unauthorized aliens. Prior to the passage of HB 786, North Carolina law required employers with 25 or more employees to verify the employment eligibility status of all employees through the E-Verify program unless the employee worked less than 90 days in a 12-consecutive-month period. The new law increases the exemption from 90 days to 9 months.
The change was championed by business interests who desire to skirt federal law and utilize a cheap illegal labor force. Although these employers must still comply with the I-9 work authorization process under federal law, the employers prefer the I-9 process over E-Verify because the I-9 process is easy to cheat and unreliable. The I-9 process merely requires employers review documents submitted by the employee and make a self-determination whether the documents appear valid on their face. E-Verify, on the other hand, effectively catches almost all employment related fraud because it verifies the documentation submitted by the employee is valid and the name, SSN, date of birth, gender and photographic identification provided match in several federal government databases.
In his veto message, Governor McCrory described HB 786 as “a loophole that would allow businesses to exempt a higher percentage of their employees from proving they are legal U.S. citizens or residents.” McCrory stated further that “[e]very job an illegal immigrant takes is one less job available for a legal North Carolina citizen. We must do everything we can to help protect jobs for North Carolinians first and foremost.” (Governor’s Statement, Aug. 15, 2013) Despite the veto override, Governor McCrory has not given up the fight on behalf of those he represents. He said in a statement last Wednesday that he plans to direct the executive branch “to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state.” (Governor’s Statement, Sept. 4, 2013)