Tag Archives: Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Trump, Congress Say U.S. Will Pay For Border Wall

Barely a week into the Trump Era and the United States has already seen one of the largest protest marches in American history, caught the new Administration telling blatant lies… or as they would like to say, “Alternative Facts”… about something as inconsequential as crowd size at the inauguration, and taken rapid moves to dismantle the American healthcare system with no signs of a replacement in sight.

Someone call Mary J. Blige, because if this isn’t the ‘Thick Of It’ then we are in for a very tough ride.

As one would suspect, the dizzying developments continue.  After the President signed a sweeping Executive Order to fast track deportations and build the infamous Border Wall,  House Speaker Paul Ryan has stepped up to support the efforts, saying Congress can approve funding for the wall.

But as Eric Werner of the Associated Press (via PBS News Hour) points out, this isn’t exactly what Trump promised on the campaign trail…

House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump’s border wall will cost $12 billion to $15 billion — and Ryan says Congress will pay for it by this fall.

Congress will move legislation this year providing up to $15 billion to build a wall along the Mexican boundary, Republican leaders said Thursday at their annual strategy retreat. But they would not say how they would prevent the massive project from adding to federal deficits. Ryan said the goal is to complete that and other major bills in 2017, but the leaders offered no details on how the wall would be paid for, saying they would wait until the Trump administration proposes legislation.


Trump has repeatedly said Mexico will pay for the wall, but Mexican leaders oppose it and have said they won’t finance it.

Congress will pay for “the construction of the physical barrier on the border,” Ryan said.

“We intend to address the wall issue ourselves,” Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Pressed on whether construction would increase federal deficits, Ryan said Republicans are fiscal conservatives. He said strengthening the economy and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care system were two of the best ways to bolster the government’s budget.

“If we’re going to be spending on things like infrastructure, we’re going to find the fiscal space to pay for that” in a budget Congress plans to write this spring, Ryan said.

Umm Mr. Speaker, saying that Republicans are fiscal conservatives is not an answer of how specifically you plan on paying for the wall without adding to the federal deficit.  And it’s certainly not an answer that Republicans would have even consider accepting if the former Administration had proposed legislation without a way to pay for it.  They didn’t support President Obama’s initiatives even when they were paid for, but now we’re supposed to “just trust them”??

Worse yet, it was Donald Trump who said that Mexico would pay for the Border Wall, but now Congress is ready to put up our tax dollars that could be going to educate our kids and pay for our roads.

Sounds less like an ‘America First’ policy, and more like ‘Mexico First’. And Mexican citizens don’t even want the wall.

Let’s revisit some actual facts for a moment.  The United States does not need a Border Wall, because it will not stop illegal immigration to or through the country.  Last time I checked, we live in the 21st Century.  If people want to come to this country illegally, they can get here by simply taking a flight and overstaying their VISA (by many estimates, this is now the predominant mode of illegal immigration).  We can build a wall halfway to the moon and put over a million guards along the Rio Grande. If built, the whole wall project will serve to do more harm than good by fracturing the economies of border communities, seizing land from private landowners, endangering American jobs and reinforcing corrosive narratives which play into the hands of America’s enemies and undermine the values which perpetuate this nation.

Far more important than sealing our borders to keep people out, Congress must do the real work to fix our broken system and pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Presidents on both sides of the political spectrum have tried and failed to get the real work of reform done, and it has been of great detriment to the nation.  Right now the country already spends north of $18 billion per year to enforce the border.  But if we brought our most vulnerable communities out of the shadows and forged a path to citizenship for those already here, we could not only make the American people safer, but generate billions of dollars (and lots of American jobs) in the process.

And let’s not forget, this is the common-sense conclusion that is shared across multiple political philosophies.  If you don’t believe me, take this statement on the border wall issue from the 2016 Gary Johnson campaign

“Having served as Governor of a border state, Gary Johnson understands immigration. He understands that a robust flow of labor, regulated not by politics, but by the marketplace, is essential. He understands that a bigger fence will only produce taller ladders and deeper tunnels, and that the flow of illegal immigrants across the border is not a consequence of too little security, but rather a legal immigration system that simply doesn’t work. Militarizing the border, bigger fences, and other punitive measures espoused by too many politicians are all simplistic “solutions’ to a problem caused by artificial quotas, bureaucratic incompetence and the shameful failure of Congress to actually put in place an immigration system that matches reality.”

Unfortunately for us, “reality” has been thrown out of the window for the next several years.  And soon, our view of it may be blocked from the wall.


Actress Diane Guerrero Tells Her Story: “My Parents Were Deported”

To most Americans, Immigration reform is just a debate topic.  We hear about it all the time, from the comforts of our home television set, computer or tablet.  On a days we’re feeling bold, we may trade barbs back and forth between friends.  It’s just another issue to enliven the conversation… talk a little bit about tax rates, street repair, the undocumented.

But to those that are directly affected, immigration reform is all too real.  Families across this country are living in a constant state of fear that life as they know it could change drastically at the next door knock.

Over the weekend, one American actress decided to share her story of those fears realized with the whole world.  Here is an excerpt from Diane Guerrero’s powerful piece in the Los Angeles Times

In “Orange Is the New Black,” I play Maritza Ramos, a tough Latina from the ‘hood. In “Jane the Virgin,” I play Lina, Jane’s best friend and a funny know-it-all who is quick to offer advice.

I love both parts, but they’re fiction. My real story is this: I am the citizen daughter of immigrant parents who were deported when I was 14. My older brother was also deported.

My parents came here from Colombia during a time of great instability there. Escaping a dire economic situation at home, they moved to New Jersey, where they had friends and family, seeking a better life, and then moved to Boston after I was born.

Throughout my childhood I watched my parents try to become legal but to no avail. They lost their money to people they believed to be attorneys, but who ultimately never helped. That meant my childhood was haunted by the fear that they would be deported. If I didn’t see anyone when I walked in the door after school, I panicked.

And then one day, my fears were realized. I came home from school to an empty house. Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there. Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.

Not a single person at any level of government took any note of me. No one checked to see if I had a place to live or food to eat, and at 14, I found myself basically on my own.

As the only U.S. Citizen in her immediate family, Ms. Guerrero suddenly found herself an orphan.  As she shares in this heartbreaking interview on CNN’s New Day, her parents and brother are still in Colombia, and she had to depend on friends and neighbors through high school and college just to make it.

Guerrero also spoke to why her family came to the United States in the first place. They were fleeing an unstable situation in their home country, and tried to do things the legal way first…

What people don’t realize… it is so difficult for people to come here, get their papers and become documented.  My parents tried forever, and the system didn’t offer relief for them.

Under current law and an immense backlog, legal immigration to the United States can take as long as 24 years to be fully realized… literally an entire generation of one’s life.  For all of the people arguing for folks to “go to the back of the line”, they’re not talking waiting for a new toy at CostCo.  Would any American citizen be willing to wait that long to do… well, anything??

As the country waits to hear President Obama’s plans for sweeping Executive Actions that would set to prioritize how deportations are to be handled, let’s get yet another thing clear. Comprehensive Immigration Reform or not, we MUST have a plan for prioritization.  We all know that it is impossible to deport every single undocumented person at once.  We also know that the vast majority of these persons pose no threat to the communities that they are already living and working in.  The country’s law enforcement agencies continue to waste valuable time and money pursuing people that are doing nothing wrong, while the real criminals are left to do as they please.

For the sake our citizens and their loved ones, it’s time to act on these misguided deportation policies.  The health and safety of real families shouldn’t be up for debate.


Comprehensive Immigration Reform ‘Won’t’ Pass The House

The curious case of the GOP versus Comprehensive Immigration Reform continues.

It appears that the latest plan that Republicans have cooked up to stall Immigration Reform is nothing more than an old stand-by… blame President Obama.

Here’s more from the Washington Post…

Republicans are starting to lay the blame on President Barack Obama if an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system fails to become law.

The GOP’s emerging plan on immigration is to criticize Obama as an untrustworthy leader and his administration as an unreliable enforcer of any laws that might be passed. Perhaps realizing the odds of finding a consensus on immigration are long, the Republicans have started telling voters that if the GOP-led House doesn’t take action this election year, it is Obama’s fault.

“If the president had been serious about this the last five years, we’d be further along in this discussion,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said Sunday.

I suppose making CIR a top priority of his administration during virtually every year of his Presidency isn’t getting serious enough? And not to mention that the only chamber to have done anything substantive at this point is the Democratically-controlled Senate, which passed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation last year. Let’s also not forget that Obama is apparently much more serious on the issue than President George W. Bush. During the Bush administration, neither House of Congress got ANYTHING advanced on immigration. Make no mistake, the GOP is running plays from a tried and true playbook right now… desperately trying to sound serious about immigration reform just long enough to get through the 2014 elections. That’s the only reason for all of the caution and careful change in tone for 2014.

But on Wednesday’s Houston Matters with host Craig Cohen, Texas Congressman Kevin Brady decided to throw even that caution to the wind, and out the window. Here was the exchange from last week…

Craig Cohen: “Another topic of significance to Greater Houston that the President raised last night was immigration. What would it take to see comprehensive immigration reform pass through the House?”

Congressman Brady: “You know… it won’t. I think the House has learned from some of the massive bills, such as the Affordable Care Act, that comprehensive efforts are normally very sloppy, and we learn later just what the consequences of them are. The House is going to take a step-by-step approach.”

Step-by-step approach is code for “we’re going to stall for as long as humanly possible.” Their focus is only on the next election. The GOP agenda is not now, nor will it ever be serious about immigration reform. For someone like Congressman Brady, member of both the House Ways and Means Committee and House-Senate Joint Economic Committee, to be dismissing any hopes of a substantive bill from the House is a big problem. Brady lives in a very safe district that is majority white and majority Republican… basically, he can afford to tell the truth on this issue, and not worry about much blowback. Please folks, don’t be fooled by the Republican rhetoric. If you want Immigration reform passed, vote for the Democrats. And maybe someday, the Democratic party will grow a spine and run on the issue too.

BREAKING: Immigration Reform Bill PASSES the Senate, 68-32

In continuance of has turned out to be quite the week in American politics, the United States Senate has passed the Gang of 8’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill by a vote of 68 to 32. The final vote was taken at approximately 3:24pm CST.

Now the pressure is officially on for the US House of Representatives. The bi-partisan legislation includes the votes of 14 Republicans. It is up to House Speaker John Boehner to see Immigration reform to the end. Most analysts say that the bill could pass the House if Boehner is will to break the “Hastert Rule”. If this is done, the bill would pass mostly by Democratic support.

Here’s my quick look at the Senate’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform plan.

Immigration Reform shouldn’t be a partisan issue…

But let’s face facts here folks… it IS. Even if there are a precious few Republican Congress members that sincerely want to fix our broken immigration system, that number is not enough to matter in the grand scheme of Republican politics. There is still far too large a segment of the GOP that really HATES the idea of allowing undocumented persons to be recognized by the government. If they didn’t, then why is it that (as President Obama politely reminded us at the opening Bush 43’s Library) 3 previous attempts crashed and burned during the Grand Ol’ Bush Administration? When Republicans were in control under an arguably Pro- Immigration Reform President, they tried 3 times and got NOWHERE.

Given recent developments from last week, it’s critical for us to look at why the 2007 attempt did not work. Back then, the failure of the Senate to approve Bush’s measure truly was a Bi-Partisan defeat, as 15 Democrats actually voted against the legislation, citing many similar concerns as the GOP. And eventhough plenty of Democrats didn’t like George W. Bush, they didn’t try to ruin him at every turn the way Republicans have to Obama.

But one thing that both attempts had in common? The Heritage Foundation… a Right-wing think tank. Just like today, Heritage also released a study in 2007 that was timed almost perfectly to scuttle Bush’s Comphrehensive Immigration Reform (abbreviated as “CIR” bill. It served its purpose by pealing off Conservative Democrats and Republicans to vote against the legislation. So is anyone surprised that Heritage felt the necessity to release a similar study last week? And here’s the funny part… both studies make an insane claim that Amnesty will somehow cost the American economy $6.3 Trillion dollars, and neither take into account any of the contributions that Undocumented persons make in our society right now. They work, they go to school, they pay sales taxes, and do almost every thing that other Americans do. But the Heritage Foundation doesn’t mention any of this in its flawed logic. In 2007, these lies were enough to make President Bush 0 for 0 on CIR.

President Obama’s attempts have already gone better though. Let’s not forget that the DREAM ACT came within one GOP filibuster of being law in 2010. Even after that defeat, the President still accomplished many elements of the DREAM Act via Executive Order in 2012, bringing some small measure of hope to that select group of persons. By any measure, Obama and Democrats are the ones that have been responsible for any progress on this issue for the last 30 years, and they certainly weren’t the ones standing in the way when the other side tried to fix it. On the other hand, all the GOP can do is run, hide and tell lies. In every scenario that Comprehensive Immigration Reform laws could pass the House of Representatives, they require virtually all House Democrats to combine with a few “reasonable” Republican members. IF it gets done, that’s the only way CIR is going to happen. So again, I say that I wish Immigration Reform was not a partisan issue, but right now at least in Washington, it is textbook divide and squander. Anyone that wants real progress should remember this going into 2014.

Dos Centavos has some great coverage on this issue as well. Please make sure to check it out.