Right Side News reports on comprehensive immigration reform legislation being charted this week by the GOP House from the Federation for Immigration Reform:

  • House Members Raise Constitutional Concerns Over Senate Amnesty Bill
  • House GOP Leaders Craft DREAM ActAmerica the Free
  • House GOP Immigration Meeting Produces More Questions than Answers
  • Homeland Security Secretary Takes New Job Amidst Immigration Battle
  • Poll Finds 60 Percent of Hispanics Back ‘Enforcement First’ Approach to Immigration Reform
  • New FAIR Report Shows Senate Bill Harms American Workers
  • Massachusetts Committee Considers Anti-Detainer Bill

House Members Raise Constitutional Concerns Over Senate Amnesty Bill

 Over the last week, several House Republicans have raised constitutional concerns regarding the Senate amnesty bill, S. 744, that would prohibit the lower chamber from taking up the legislation. (breitbart.com, July 10, 2013)

At issue is whether S. 744 violates the so-called “Origination Clause” of the U.S. Constitution. Located in Article I, Section 7, the clause reads, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives….” This has been interpreted to mean that in order for a piece of revenue-raising (or tax) legislation to become law, it must first be introduced and passed in the House before the Senate can act. Therefore, any such bills originating in the Senate are considered unconstitutional as in violation of the Origination Clause.

Arguing that the Senate amnesty bill contains such unconstitutional revenue-raising provisions, many House Republicans are making the case to House Leadership that it should “blue-slip” the Senate bill. “Blue-slipping” is the House term for refusing to take up a Senate bill on grounds it violates the Origination Clause, named after the blue slip of paper on which the procedural motion is conducted.

In fact, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (the committee that oversees taxation issues and legislation) made the case for blue-slipping S. 744 in a press release following the House GOP’s immigration meeting. “The Senate bill is unconstitutional, as it includes a number of revenue-related measures such as fees, penalties, surcharges and the non-payment of taxes.  As such, any consideration of the Senate bill in the House would also be unconstitutional.  The House will have to consider its own legislation.” (See Ways and Means Press Release, July 11, 2013; see also Politico, July, 11, 2013)

Chairman Camp’s press release then went on to specifically mention and address particular sections of the Senate amnesty bill that violate the Origination Clause. These include:

Section 6 regarding the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund created by the bill;

Section  2211 regarding requirements for “blue card status” (ag amnesty) and Section 2309 regarding requirements for the V nonimmigrant visa program;

Section 2232 regarding the establishment of Nonimmigrant Agricultural Worker Program;

Section 4104 regarding fees to be paid into a STEM education and training account; and

Section 5105 regarding a visa surcharge administered by the Department of Labor that would be paid into the “general fund” to finance the government generally.

(See Ways and Means Press Release for further detail).

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) brought up the blue-slip issue late last month. “Not only is the Senate amnesty bill an abuse of taxpayers and immigrants, it’s utterly unconstitutional,” Rep. Stockman said the day after the Senate passed the 1,200 page “comprehensive” immigration reform bill. “The Senate cannot invent its own amnesty taxes,” he asserted, calling on Speaker Boehner to use the blue slip procedure to kill the bill. (Washington Times, June 28, 2013)

However, whether Leadership will blue-slip the Senate bill remains to be seen. The House cannot act until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) actually sends the legislation over to it for consideration — an action he has yet to take in anticipation of the problem.  (See Washington Times, Reid blocks own immigration bill from House vote,” July 11, 2013) Stay tuned to FAIR for details…

House GOP Leaders Craft DREAM Act

Two House leaders critical to the immigration debate, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), are crafting a Republican version of the DREAM Act called the “KIDS Act”.

The efforts of the two senior Republicans become known last week following last week’s House GOP’s immigration meeting. Though the legislation is said to be in its “early stages,” aides say it will include a path to citizenship for illegal aliens currently in the U.S. who claim they have been brought to the country as minors. (The Hill, July 11, 2013) “As part of the step-by-step approach the House is taking to address immigration reform, Leader Cantor and I are working on a bill to provide a legal status to those who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children by their parents,” Chairman Goodlatte said in a statement Thursday. (Id.)

The Majority Leader first announced his support for the DREAM Act in a speech before the American Enterprise Institute in February. “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home,” he said. (Politico, July 11, 2013; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 11, 2013)

Both Cantor and Goodlatte’s new-found support for DREAM Act legislation run contrary to their previous positions in opposition to such legalization policy. Both voted against the DREAM Act in 2010 when it last came to the House for a vote. (See Roll Call Vote 625)

House aides say there is no timetable set for the yet-to-be introduced legislation. (The Hill, July 11, 2013) The House is expected take up border security immigration bills first, and debate on those may not come until September.

House GOP Immigration Meeting Produces More Questions than Answers

House GOP Leadership left the closed-door immigration policy meeting last week reiterating that they will not take up the Senate’s 1,200 page “comprehensive” immigration reform bill. “Today House Republicans affirmed that rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system,” read a joint statement by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the Republican leadership. (House Speaker Press Release, July 10, 2013)

While the meeting was expected to produce the House majority’s path forward on immigration reform, Republican lawmakers failed to agree on an overall policy strategy. “There is no approach of the conference,” said House Gang of Seven Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). (National Journal, July 11, 2013) “Not much really happened in there,” added Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX). (Id.) “We didn’t decide anything,” confirmed Rep. John Fleming (R-LA). (Id.)

While the GOP conference did not produce a plan on how to deal with immigration, its Members did overwhelmingly agree on one thing: the borders must be secured first.   “Securing our borders and having the ability to enforce our immigration laws are the first big steps in this process,” said Speaker Boehner. (Bloomberg, July 11, 2013) “There was pretty strong consensus that the border has to be secured before anything else,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA). (NPR, July 10, 2013) “There is little consensus in there for doing anything other than border security,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS). (The Hill, July 10, 2013)

Notably, just one day after the meeting, Speaker Boehner implied he may bring an amnesty bill to the House floor. “We’re going to find out [if the House supports amnesty],” he told reporters without additional details. (The Hill, July 11, 2013)

Boehner’s failure to outright reject all amnesty proposals has rank-and-file Republicans concerned that the Speaker will accept a watered-down version of the Senate bill if the two chambers conference together to resolve differences in their immigration bills. “Unless the Senate, specifically Chuck Schumer and the Democrats that drafted this bill, relent on their insistence for legalization first, enforcement later, then I can’t see a way to reconcile any legislation that we might pass that would focus on enforcement,” said Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR). (CQ Today, July 10, 2013) “People were asking [the Speaker,] ‘Well, can you guarantee me what’s going to come back from conference won’t be the Senate bill-light?'” said an unnamed lawmaker. (The Hill, July 10, 2013) “[Boehner] said, ‘I can’t guarantee what’s going to come back from conference because it hasn’t happened yet, but I can guarantee that we’re going to have something a majority of the conference accepts.” (Id.)

Homeland Security Secretary Takes New Job Amidst Immigration Battle

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Friday she is stepping down after more than four-years with the Obama Administration to become the next president of the University of California system. (Fox News, July 12, 2013)

“For more than four years I have had the privilege of serving President Obama and his Administration as the Secretary of Homeland Security,” Napolitano’s statement read. ” The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the frontlines of our nation’s efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career.” (See Secretary Napolitano Press Release, July 12, 2013)

However, Secretary Napolitano’s tenure at the Department has been highly controversial. Under her “leadership,” the Department has proactively taken steps to dismantle immigration enforcement. Napolitano has been responsible for overseeing a series of “prosecutorial discretion” memos instructing federal immigration agents to ignore the vast majority of illegal aliens who do not fall within the Department’s enforcement “priorities”  In addition, Napolitano was responsible for administering a case-by-case review of all immigration deportation proceedings, administratively closing the cases her Department did not deem a priority and creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, thereby administratively implementation of the DREAM Act despite the bill’s repeated rejection by Congress. (See FAIR Morton Memos Summary)

In fact, a group of ICE agents has thus far successfully sued Secretary Napolitano in an attempt to overturn the DACA program. The agents have argued — and a Texas district court has agreed — that the program forces them to violate federal law by prohibiting them from arresting or placing in removal proceedings every illegal alien they encounter who is not clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted to the United States. (See 8 U.S.C. 1225; see also FAIR Legislative Update, April 29, 2013)

The University of California Board of Regents is expected to officially approve Ms. Napolitano’s nomination as the system’s 20th president Thursday during a meeting in San Francisco. (Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2013) According to University of California officials, Napolitano is expected to begin her new position in September, just as the House is anticipated to begin action on immigration. (Id.)

The Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, resigned less than a month ago. (See FAIR Legislative Update, June 24, 2013)

Poll Finds 60 Percent of Hispanics Back ‘Enforcement First’ Approach to Immigration Reform

According to a recent poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, a majority of Hispanic voters support amnesty only after the border is secure. Specifically, the survey found that 60% of Hispanic voters support legalizing the nation’s illegal immigrant population only after a goal of stopping 90% of unlawful border crossings has been met.  See the Presentation of Survey Results for more detail…

New FAIR Report Shows Senate Bill Harms American Workers

A newly released FAIR report, “Out of the Shadows: Shining a Light on Immigration and the Plight of the American Worker,” explains how current U.S. immigration policy harms American workers, and makes the case that current proposals on Capitol Hill to grant amnesty and increase guest workers will only further harm native-born workers.

In particular, the report compares the economy in 2007 when Congress last considered “comprehensive” immigration reform to the present. It points out that in May 2007 when the Senate rejected the last amnesty bill, the unemployment rate was at a relatively low 4.5 percent. Six years later, now that the unemployment rate remains at a high 7.6 percent — and over 4 million more people are unemployed — the Senate has passed a 1,200 page bill that grants legal status and work authorization to 12 million illegal aliens while increasing the number of guest workers by at least 50 percent. 

“Out of the Shadows” emphasizes Congress and the White House’s refusal to acknowledge the disadvantage using immigration to increase the work force during times of high unemployment puts American workers and recent college graduates, while advocating for sound immigration policy to help put Americans back to work.

Click here to read the full report.

Massachusetts Committee Considers Anti-Detainer Bill

The Massachusetts Legislature held a hearing on Tuesday in the Joint Judiciary Committee to discuss House Bill 1613, a bill that prohibits state and local law enforcement from honoring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers in all but a very limited number of circumstances. An ICE detainer request serves to advise a state or local law enforcement agency that ICE seeks custody of a particular alien for the purpose of arrest and removal. If ordered by law to ignore ICE detainers, state and local jails have no choice but to release criminals — criminals who have no right to be in the United States — back onto the street.

Under HB 1613, co-sponsored by Representative Carl M. Sciortino (D-Medford) and Senator James B. Eldridge (D-Acton), an illegal alien may not be detained pursuant to an ICE detainer request if the alien can make bail pending trial, is adjudged not guilty on the criminal charges, or the criminal charges are dismissed. Even if an illegal alien meets none of the previous conditions, state and local law enforcement agencies cannot cooperate with ICE unless: (1) the illegal alien is 18 years of age or older, (2) the illegal alien has been convicted of a violent crime and confined to a state prison for at least five years, (3) the detainer is accompanied by a prior order of removal or DHS Notice to Appear, and (4) the federal government has agreed to reimburse the state for all expenses associated with the continued detention of the illegal alien.

HB 1613 also prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from making inmates available for ICE interviews unless the inmate is provided the opportunity for an attorney to be present and signs a written consent form in a language the illegal alien understands that explains the legal consequences which might result from speaking to ICE agents. The bill also prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from providing booking lists to ICE without a criminal warrant or communicating regarding individuals’ incarceration status or release dates. Even further, the bill prohibits all law enforcement officials from making arrests or detaining any individual based on an administrative immigration warrant contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

HB 1613 is obviously intended to impede the federal government’s ability to enforce immigration law, but it comes with dire consequences. In an August 23, 2012 letter to FAIR, former ICE Director, John Morton, stated that jurisdictions that ignore ICE detainer requests “are undermining public safety in their communities by exposing their local communities to risks from suspected and convicted sex offenders, weapons violators, drunk drivers, and other violent criminals.” Morton stated further that these are not “hypothetical risks” as ICE is “aware of some of the additional crimes being committed by these recidivist criminal aliens after such jurisdictions have chosen to release them back into their communities rather into federal custody.” Such additional crimes, as recounted by Morton, include “the possession of controlled substances, money laundering, burglary, spousal battery, aggravated driving under the influence, and even attempted murder.”

Earlier this year, Connecticut passed a similar law that prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with ICE detainers unless the illegal alien had been convicted of a serious crime.  (LCO 4662, May 2013). A similar bill is also currently pending in the California Legislature, AB 4