Divided on immigration

Bush nudges GOP on immigration as lawmakers meet
Associated Press
Jul 11, 2013

Divided on immigration, House Republicans bluntly challenged President Barack Obama's willingness to secure the nation's borders on Wednesday, and appeared unimpressed by George W. Bush's advice to carry a "benevolent spirit" into a debate that includes a possible path to citizenship for millions.

Emerging from a closed-door meeting, GOP leaders affirmed a step-by-step approach to immigration but offered neither specifics nor a timetable — nor any mention of possible citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country unlawfully.

Instead, in a written statement noting that the White House recently delayed a key part of the health care law, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other leaders said the action raised concerns that the administration "cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate."

Lawmakers streaming out of the two-hour meeting said Bush's long-distance advice had not come up in a discussion that focused instead on the importance of securing the nation's borders and a general distrust of Obama.

The former president's ability to sway a new generation of House conservatives was a matter of considerable doubt, especially because many of the tea party-backed lawmakers have risen to power since he left the White House and are strongly on record in opposition to any citizenship provision.

"We care what people back home say, not what some former president says," declared Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a second-term Kansas Republican who has clashed with the party leadership in the House.

Still, the timing and substance of Bush's remarks were reminders of the imperative that many national party leaders feel that Republicans must broaden their appeal among Hispanic voters to compete successfully in future presidential elections. President Barack Obama took more than 70 percent of their votes in winning a second term last fall.

"America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time," Bush said at a naturalization ceremony at his presidential library in Dallas.

For their part, Democrats quickly embraced the former president's message, challenging House Speaker John Boehner to proceed in the same spirit.

The meeting in the Capitol was arranged as a listening session for the House GOP, their first such meeting since the Senate approved sweeping legislation last month on a bipartisan vote of 68-32.

Lawmakers said after the session there was strong support for a bill to create a path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought to the country as children illegally by family members, an idea advanced by Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va.., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his panel would soon begin work on legislation covering that group.

Several members of the rank and file said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had made a particularly strong appeal for a comprehensive approach, which includes possible citizenship for the 11 million.

But others emphasized there was virtually no support for the Senate's approach of one sweeping measure that dealt with immigration in all its forms.

Nor was there a clear timetable.

"I don't sense any urgency," said Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana. Rep. Peter King of New York said that if any legislation came to the floor for a vote this month, it would deal only with border security.

Other lawmakers said there was concern even about that sort of approach, saying it could lead to negotiations with the Senate that might morph into a compromise that included citizenship for some of the immigrants in the country illegally. They sought and received assurances from Boehner that he wouldn't let that happen, according to Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota.

Boehner had said he wants the House to pass legislation on the subject before lawmakers go home for a four-week break over August, beginning with a measure to toughen border security. He has also said he won't put any bill on the House floor that doesn't have the support of at least half of the GOP rank and file, a pledge that only increases the challenge for Democrats and others who want to give a chance at citizenship to millions now in the country illegally.

"I don't know that Republican leadership has a strategy that is workable," Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat, told reporters.

Unlike a sweeping, bipartisan bill that cleared the Senate last month, the House Judiciary Committee has cleared four smaller measures in recent weeks, none of which would include the possibility of citizenship.

One would toughen enforcement of immigration laws, and includes a provision that would permit local police officers to enforce such laws as part of an attempt to raise the number of deportations. It also encourages immigrants in the United States illegally to depart voluntarily, an echo of Mitt Romney's call for "self-deportation" in the 2012 presidential race.

Other measures would create a new mandatory system for employees to verify the legal status of their workers, create a new temporary program for farm workers and expand the number of visas for employees in technology industries.

By contrast, the Senate bill, passed 68-32, would increase border security, provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million immigrants illegally in the country, expand the highly skilled worker program and set up new guest worker arrangements for lower-skilled workers and farm laborers.

Obama is to meet Thursday with two authors of the Senate measure, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in the Oval Office.

In more than four years since he left the White House, Bush has rarely spoken out publicly about either policy or politics — and he said he didn't particularly want to do either as he addressed the naturalization ceremony at his presidential library.

Still, his message was an unmistakable echo of the failed attempt he made as president to overhaul immigration laws, including providing a route to citizenship for many.

He said the nation has a problem: 'The laws governing the immigration system are broken. The system is broken."

Without mentioning Republicans or Democrats, he said "I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate" now unfolding in Congress. "And I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind, and we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country."

Bush's campaign to overhaul immigration legislation while in the White House included the political calculation that Republicans needed to take steps to appeal to Hispanic voters who are an increasingly large part of the population, particularly in states like Texas, Florida, Nevada and Colorado.

At the same time, relatively few House Republicans represents districts with substantial Hispanic populations, and many say they fear primary election challenges from the right if they support citizenship for immigrants in the United States illegally.

Within a few hours of Bush's remarks, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi took note of them in a letter to Boehner.

"In that same spirit, the 113th Congress has the opportunity to make our mark on American history by enacting comprehensive immigration reform," she wrote.

House Democrats insist that a path to citizenship be included in any legislation, and Obama has said he won't sign any bill that lacks it.

"We believe that the president is very firm on that," Rep. Ruben Hinojosa said after he and other members of the all-Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Obama at the White House.

Comments

JERRY from SANDUSKY

ir a casa ilegal

SamAdams

According to a story on CNN this morning, Bush is saying we need to fix the immigration system because the "immigration system is broken." Not true. The immigration ENFORCEMENT system is broken. Fix that, the rest goes by the wayside because it'll work the way it ought to work. Unfortunately, the liberal notion of a "fix" is to ignore (or discard) the things that are "too hard" or that don't fit in with their progressive agenda. In fact, their idea of a "fix" seems to be to completely ignore the REAL problem! Par for the course, but the dangers are very, VERY real.

Huron_1969

Just throw the 100' rope and keep on walking

The Big Dog's back

sam, the Repubs had 8 years to "enforce" the laws. Why didn't they?

SamAdams

Your guess is as good as mine, but if I HAD to guess, they couldn't be bothered for the same reason the Democrats can't be bothered. It's "too hard" or it's "racist." Both are erroneous but convenient excuses, especially when you're a politician talking out of both sides of your mouth.

I should have made clear in my earlier post (and I apologize to you for that, Big Dog) that just because we're listening to progressives cry and bleed for criminals at the moment doesn't mean that the Republicans took appropriate action when they could have. In fact, the most the Dems were guilty of 'til recently is maintaining the status quo.

arnmcrmn

so your response Big is to just keep ignoring the problem?

Get a bad haircut and keep going to the same barber?

How about FIXING the problem and stop finger pointing. I know its hard for you to understand that but it works.

Contango

H*ll, just let 'em ALL in.

Why not fly some low skilled immigrants in from countries like the Congo and elsewhere from ALL OVER THE WORLD, wherever the residents claim oppression and poverty.

Give 'em houses, cars, cell phones, healthcare and welfare, etc. - no questions asked.

Just have "The Bernanke" print a few more trillion dollars to help pay for it all.

Remember: Under the Progressive-Democrats concept of socialism, NO ONE will be REQUIRED to work and EVERYTHING will be FREE.

The Collectivists tell us that the U.S. is a greedy, selfish, racist country - we need to share with the less fortunate of the world.

Let's get to it!

sandtown born a...

Wow is all I can say.

deertracker

Try articulating a REAL thought. Wow is the best you can do? Since you have been taught so well, try it!

sandtown born a...

go track something like a nonracist view for a change

samiam

re Contango: Oh wait, we already do!

deertracker

You guys do know Bush is a Republican? Calm down pooh! Contrary to popular belief, most illegals do pay taxes and those that don't are being taken advantage of by employers that not only hire them illegally, they too DO NOT PAY TAXES! I worked for the IRS for a short time!

Darwin's choice

So, illegals pay taxes? Prove it! Also, they're ILLEGAL. Fix the broken enforcement of the laws we have now!

deertracker

You prove they don't!

goofus

Why does he! You initially brought up your ridiculous comment, the burden of proof is on your shoulders!!!!

deertracker

You guys really need to get informed!

The Big Dog's back

If they aren't paying taxes then their Repub employer needs to go to jail.

SamAdams

Believe it or not, I agree. Track down those who EMPLOY illegals and crack down on THEM, and the illegals go away.

Contango

Day laborers - CASH ONLY.

The New World Czar

Just because one is a Republican doesn't mean one adheres to true conservative values. Bush and McCain are two glaring examples.

santown419

He can't be a repub false news said he isn't.

Contango

Re: "most illegals do pay taxes"

Taxes? LMAO!!

MILLIONS of illegals and increasingly MILLIONS of legal Americans are being paid under the table.

The black market and non-payment of taxes is a MAJOR business in the U.S.

And if they're paying taxes, why can't the IRS compare notes with ICE and find these millions of illegals "living in the shadows."

Only a complete Obama-hole would fall for such nonsense.

deertracker

Most illegals do pay taxes. Even if they are paid under the table, they still pay sales taxes and what is that money used for? Only a complete idiot in a drunken stupor would believe that out of all the illegals here none pay taxes. If the illegal is not paying taxes neither is the employer. That's okay right? The word "and" is a conjunction used to join two thoughts in one sentence. It should NEVER be used to begin a sentence. If they are paying taxes, and they are, why would the IRS even be involved with ICE?

Huron_1969

Sales tax is a small portion of the total tax burden working citizens pay. You're really stretching the truth when you declare illegals pay taxes

deertracker

You are wrong. Most get a refund from state and federal income tax but you do not with sales tax!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

This is the exact argument for why we need to replace the income tax with a national sales tax. So to that extent, I agree. This way everyone does pay and it doesn't matter their citizenship status.

Contango

Re: "replace the income tax with a national sales tax."

IMO, unlikely to happen as sales taxes are and have been historically the perview of state and local govts.

It may come in the form of a value added tax (VAT).

But many are skeptical that the feds would replace the 16th Amend., and instead only ADD a VAT in order to increase overall revenue.

Darwin's choice

Please step away from the white porcelin Obama koolaid fixture in your restroom, and look up fraudulent income tax returns filed and paid by illegals. Former IRS huh, that figures!
http://cis.org/child-tax-credits...
Maybe start here......

deertracker

You can also find a stat about convicts on "fraudulent" returns!. Pay Attention. I said "most" not all. Look up the word "most".

Contango

Re: "paid under the table, they still pay sales taxes,"

No fed, local or state income taxes, no FICA, no Medicare contributions and YEAH, the black market operators and consumers ALWAYS pay "sales taxes."

Those Obama-holes sure do keep their heads tightly up his tush. :)

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