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Immigration Reform News and Impact on US Homeland Security January 14, 2014

Written by FAIR

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Right Side News reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform with news that key Republicans were ready to compromise and provide illegal aliens amnesty.

 Key GOP Rep: "No Reason" House Can't Reach Amnesty Compromise

Reaffirming his openness to amnesty legislation, in an interview Sunday with Spanish media outlet Telemundo, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) asserted he sees "no reason" why the House cannot come to an agreement on a legal status for illegal aliens so long as other conditions are met. Specifically citing border security and interior enforcement, Goodlatte told host Jose Diaz Balart that "if we can have a way to get that up and operating — I see no reason why we can't also have an agreement that — shows how people who are not lawfully here can be able to be lawfully here." (See Transcript of Goodlatte Interview at pp. 2-3, Jan. 12, 2014)

Goodlatte also stated that any amnesty proposal put forth by the GOP should include employment verification or entry-exit triggers to address concerns that any pending amnesty will simply be a repeat of 1986. "That's a reasonable concern. But I think it can be addressed…[W]e can say the legal  status is not provided until things like employment verification — electronic employment verification or entry/exit visa programs are up and operating effectively." (Id. at pp. 7-8)

Last year, Chairman Goodlatte began suggesting Congress grant amnesty to certain subsets of the illegal alien population. Last fall, he said illegal aliens who claim to be brought to the U.S. as minors (so-called "DREAMers") should be granted citizenship through education or military service requirements. (Politico, Sept. 19, 2013) "I wouldn't give them what I would call a special pathway to citizenship, I would give them an earned pathway to citizenship," he said. (Id.) Regarding the broader illegal alien population, Goodlatte suggested Congress grant them immediate legalization and allow them to receive green cards and eventual citizenship through the current family-based and employment-based sponsorship channels. (Id.) "We have to find the appropriate legal status for people who are not lawfully here," Goodlatte said. (Id.)

Chairman Goodlatte's statements take on particular significance as he is leading the effort to develop a set of immigration principles for House Republicans that are intended to guide them as they address the issue this year. (Roll Call, Nov. 13, 2013)  However, Goodlatte is only one of a handful of House leaders — including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and the Speaker's new immigration advisor and former McCain chief of staff, Becky Tallent — to have a seat at the drafting table.  (Breitbart, Jan. 8, 2014)  The limited amount of input, coming from individuals who have voiced their support for amnesty, raises alarming questions whether the principles will actually reflect the will of rank-and-file Republicans.

GOP Leaders Draft Immigration "Principles"

Last week, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) updated House Republicans during a closed-door meeting on the progress of drafting a set of principles on immigration. (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 8, 2014) Boehner first announced the drafting of these principles last fall when he announced he would not go to conference with the Senate mass amnesty bill, S. 744 (Roll Call, Nov. 13, 2013)

It is unclear when the Speaker will release his principles document. His brief comment about the piece was made at the beginning of the meeting, and he did not delve into any details about what the principles would be or when they would be released.  (Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2014) Some reporters have indicated that its release date is "weeks away," while others state that the Speaker's goal is to present the document at the upcoming GOP retreat on January 29. According to FAIR's sources, the document may even be introduced prior to the retreat. As GOP Representative and former Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Peter King (R-NY) put it, "I got the impression that it'd be sooner rather than later." (Id.)

Only a few key Members of the House GOP are reportedly working on drafting these principles. This includes House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Speaker Boehner's immigration policy advisor Rebecca Tallent, who previously served as Senate Gang of Eight member John McCain's (R-AZ) Chief of Staff. (Roll Call, Nov. 13, 2013; Breitbart, Jan. 8, 2014)

When House leaders release these immigration principles, they may provide the clearest signal yet about the direction Republicans intend to take with respect to legislation.  Some anticipate the principles will reflect the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce, which supports amnesty and massive expansion of guest worker programs.  Others hope they will reflect TRUE immigration reform principles which prioritize the needs of Americans.  Finally, other sources tell FAIR that House leaders may design the principles to be broad and vague enough that they will prevent Republicans from taking a meaningful stand on the issue of immigration.

16 House Republicans to Obama: No Amnesty

Last Wednesday, sixteen members of the House of Representatives led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) sent a letter to the White House expressing their opposition to any amnesty legislation.  (Newsmax, Jan. 9, 2014; Breitbart News, Jan. 8, 2014; Daily Caller, Jan. 10, 2014) The Members of Congress wrote to President Obama: "we reject your call for the House to get an immigration bill to your desk that would permanently displace American workers." (Letter to President Obama, Jan. 8, 2014)

The letter criticizes President Obama for an amnesty agenda that puts the needs of illegal aliens before those of out-of-work Americans. According to the letter, President Obama "entertained a parade of high-powered business executives to discuss immigration policy, all while shutting out the concerns of everyday wage-earners."  (Id.) The Congressmen also wrote that S. 744, the Senate mass amnesty bill endorsed by President Obama, was "an awful deal for US workers" because it would cause lower per-capita GNP and increased American unemployment.  (Id.)

According to the letter, amnesty would particularly hurt "African-American and Hispanic communities enduring chronically high unemployment." (Id.)  Recently released job statistics show that African-American unemployment is in the double digits at 11.9%, and Hispanic unemployment is also higher than the national average at 8.3%.  (Bureau of Labor Statistics December 2013 News Release, Jan. 10, 2014)   Amnesty's effect on the job prospects of minorities has been addressed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last year. (Breitbart News, Apr. 11, 2013)  Drawing from testimony by various scholars, several Commissioners warned Members of Congress that a "grant of legal status [to illegal aliens] will likely disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans by making it more difficult for them to obtain employment and depressing their wages when they do obtain employment." (USCCR Letter, Apr. 11, 2013) 

The letter from sixteen Members of Congress indicated that it was written for American workers who are currently unemployed.  Although legislators signed the letter, they said that they wrote it "on behalf of" the 21 million Americans who can't find a full-time job, the 6 million Americans neither working nor in school, and the 90 million Americans over 16 who are out of the labor force. (Id.)   The letter's signatories included Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), John Fleming (R-LA), Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Steve King (R-IA), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Mike Rogers (R-AL), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Joe Wilson (R-SC), and Ted Yoho (R-FL). (Id.)

On Friday, Rep. Mo Brooks appeared on the Neil Cavuto Show to discuss the letter he spearheaded. According to Congressman Brooks, the letter addresses the fact that "legalizing up to 44 million foreigners competing for scarce jobs…just doesn't make economic sense."  (Bloomberg Government Transcript, Jan. 11, 2014)  He explained, "[Amnesty] will have an adverse effect on American families that are working hard, struggling and who are seeking jobs, or who are working at wages that are being artificially suppressed because of the large number of immigrants that we have allowed in to our country." (Id.)  For the video of this interview, click here.

Chamber Vows to Push Immigration Reform through Congress

During the "State of American Business" address last week, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that the pro-amnesty business lobby will utilize its political muscle to push for immigration reform legislation this year. "We're determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted," declared Thomas Donohue, the Chamber's president. (Remarks by Thomas Donohue, Jan. 8, 2014)  "The Chamber will pull out all the stops — through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics and partnerships with our friends in the union, and faith-based organizations, and law enforcement groups, and others — to get this job done." (Id.)

Specifically, Donohue promised that the Chamber will play an active role in both the primaries and general elections to defeat amnesty opponents. "If you can't make them see the light, then at least make them feel some heat," Donohue declared, alluding to the Chamber's plan to campaign against candidates who do not support the business lobby's agenda. (Id.) Previously, the Chamber revealed that it plans on spending at least $50 million this year to elect pro-amnesty candidates. (See breitbart.com, Dec. 26, 2013) 

Despite Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) pledge to not go to conference with the Senate mass amnesty bill, Donohue expressed optimism during a post-address press conference that the House will pass immigration "reform" in 2014. "I've been encouraged by a lot of the noise and soundings out of the House, and I'm not discouraged when every now and then I wake up in the morning to see a story about some reason it's not going to work," he told reporters. (Washington Free Beacon, Jan. 8, 2014) "I believe we're two-thirds of the way there," Donohue said. (Id.) "Four hundred and thirty five people have to go home and run for office, and I think we're going to get this done," he predicted. (Id.)

Reid Kills True Immigration Reform Amendments

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), through a procedural maneuver commonly referred to as "filling the amendment tree," effectively blocked key immigration-related amendments to S. 1845, a Senate bill aimed at extending unemployment benefits. (New York Times, Jan. 9, 2014; The Hill, Jan. 9, 2014)

One of the key amendments blocked was a proposal by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) that would pay for extending the proposed unemployment benefits (and reinstate previously cut funds for military veterans) by eliminating the loophole in the tax code that allows illegal aliens to collect the additional child tax credit (ACTC).  Specifically, Sen. Ayotte's amendment would close the ACTC loophole by requiring those seeking the credit file a Social Security Number (SSN) to claim the benefit. Current law merely requires a taxpayer identification number to claim the credit, allowing those without SSNS — such as illegal aliens — to obtain it. 

In addition to blocking Sen. Ayotte's ACTC amendment, Majority Leader Reid also effectively blocked an E-Verify amendment by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has likewise spearheaded previous efforts in the Senate to close the ACTC loophole.  Specifically, Sen. Sessions' amendment would have permanently reauthorized the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility program and required its use by all employers. "This commonsense amendment would simply require that E-Verify be used by employers to prevent corporations from hiring illegal workers and therefore undercutting employment opportunities for American workers," Sen. Sessions said of his amendment. "If our colleagues in the majority are serious about helping jobless Americans then they should both allow this amendment to come to a vote and support it when it does." (See Sen. Sessions Press Release, Jan. 9, 2014)

Although the amendments were apparently "killed" last Thursday, the next day Sen. Reid indicated he may reverse course.  On Friday, January 10, Reid released a statement that he would allow a limited number of "relevant" amendments when the bill is voted on. (The Hill, Jan. 10, 2014) Therefore, the future of these amendments remains uncertain. In fact, inside the beltway publication Roll Call reported on Monday that Democrats have been counting their votes on the Ayotte amendment behind closed doors with the idea that it will be voted on only if they have the votes to defeat it. (Roll Call, Jan. 13, 2014) Stay tuned to FAIR as details emerge…

New Hampshire House of Representatives to Vote on In-State Tuition Bill

Today, the New Hampshire House is scheduled to vote on HB 474, a bill that provides illegal aliens taxpayer-funded in-state tuition at New Hampshire public colleges and universities.

Under House Bill (HB) 474, an illegal alien is eligible for in-state tuition rates, if he or she:

has graduated from a NH High School or received a NH GED;

has attended a NH High School for 3 years prior to graduation or was domiciled in NH 3 years prior to receiving a NH GED;

provides a copy of a filed application to legalize immigration status or files an affidavit stating that he or she will file an application to legalize immigration status when eligible to do so; and

meets all other general requirements for in-state tuition rates.

If HB 474 passes, it will exacerbate New Hampshire's education budget crisis. New Hampshire state fiscal support for higher education decreased by 49.9% between FY 2008 and FY 2013, despite significant increases in enrollment. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2013) During this period, New Hampshire colleges and universities were forced to increase tuition on average by more than 36.7%, eliminate hundreds of staff positions, freeze hiring and staff salaries, and make countless other cuts. (Id.)As a result of these budget cuts and annual tuition hikes, New Hampshire's college graduates rank second with the most education-related debt in the entire United States, carrying an average of $32,698 of debt. (The Telegraph, Dec. 6, 2013) New Hampshire also ranks second in the nation of proportion of students in debt, with 74% of students relying on loans to fund their educations. (Id.)

The University of New Hampshire, the largest public university in the State of New Hampshire, currently charges its full-time in-state students $12,720 less per year than its out-of-state full-time students. (The Associated Press, Jan. 6, 2014)

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