June 7, 2013
The immigration reform bill will see its first vote in the Senate on Tuesday and faces the final vote before the July 4th recess.
Some Republican Senators are threatening to dismantle the 867-page immigration reform bill, even as others are backing it. New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte is backing the legislation calling it "a thoughtful bi-partisan solution to a tough problem."
Republican Senators Paul Rand (R- KY), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are leading the opposition that is determined to change or defeat the legislation. They consider the bill "amnesty" and are vocal about their determination to tear it apart.
President Obama urged passage of the bill in his weekly radio address:
In the next few days, America will take an important step towards fixing our broken immigration system. The entire United States Senate will begin debating a commonsense immigration reform bill that has bipartisan support.
See, we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. The promise we find in those who come from every corner of the globe has always been one of our greatest strengths. It’s kept our workforce vibrant and dynamic. It’s kept our businesses on the cutting edge. And it’s helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.
But for years, our out-of-date immigration system has actually harmed our economy and threatened our security.
Now, over the past four years, we’ve taken steps to try and patch up some of the worst cracks in the system.
We strengthened security on the southern border by putting more boots on the ground than at any time in our history. And, in part, by using technology more effectively – today, illegal crossings are near their lowest level in decades.
We focused enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally – who endanger our communities – and today, we deport more criminals than ever before.
And we took up the cause of “Dreamers,” the young people who were brought to this country as children. We said that if they’re able to meet certain criteria, we’d consider offering them the chance to come out of the shadows so they can continue to work here, and study here, and contribute to our communities legally.
But if we’re going to truly fix a broken system, we need Congress to act in a comprehensive way. And that’s why what’s happening next week is so important.
The bill before the Senate isn’t perfect. It’s a compromise. Nobody will get everything they want – not Democrats, not Republicans, not me. But it is a bill that’s largely consistent with the principles I’ve repeatedly laid out for commonsense immigration reform.
This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders, increase criminal penalties against smugglers and traffickers, and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. If enacted, it would represent the most ambitious enforcement plan in recent memory.
This bill would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally – a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally.
This bill would modernize the legal immigration system so that, alongside training American workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we’re also attracting highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will grow our economy. And so that our people don’t have to wait years before their loved ones are able to join them in this country we love.
That’s what immigration reform looks like. Smarter enforcement. A pathway to earned citizenship. Improvements to the legal immigration system. They’re all commonsense steps. They’ve got broad support – from Republicans and Democrats, CEOs and labor leaders, law enforcement and clergy. So there is no reason that Congress can’t work together to send a bill to my desk by the end of the summer.
We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that. They’ll try to stoke fear and create division. They’ll try to play politics with an issue that the vast majority of Americans want addressed. And if they succeed, we will lose this chance to finally fix an immigration system that is badly broken.
So if you agree that now is the time for commonsense reform, reach out to your Representatives. Tell them we have to get this done so that everyone is playing by the same rules. Tell them we have the power to do this in a way that lives up to our traditions as a nation of laws, and a nation of immigrants.
In the end, that’s what this is all about. Men and women who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story, just like so many of our ancestors did. Throughout our history, that has only made us stronger. And it’s how we’ll make sure that America’s best days always lie ahead.If the immigration bill is signed into law in any decent form, it will take true bipartisan support and that does not seem to exist, especially in the House where political game playing and obstructionist acts have become the norm. Indeed, it is possible that an immigration bill will not even be brought to the floor for a vote in the House. In fact, the Republican-controlled House voted last week to de-fund the DHS program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that allows young undocumented aliens to live and work in the states.
The Republican Party has become the party that exists primarily to oppose the President and Democrats rather than to advance an agenda that polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans support. If the Republicans defeat the immigration reform bill, they may seal their own defeat in the mid-term elections and in the 2016 presidential race.
More Backing for Status for CNMI Legal Aliens
Malou Ernest, president of the Society of Human Resource Management in the CNMI announced her support for permanent status for the long-term guest workers.
Citing the dedication and contributions, Ernest said that they should be given "the opportunity to remain productive members of the commonwealth community,"
CNMI Delegate Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan was the guest speaker at the group's monthly meeting where he stated that the community has responded positively to his proposed provision in the comprehensive immigration bill that would grant green cards to some of the legal, long-term aliens after they met more conditions. From the Marianas Variety:
Sablan said Section 2109 of the immigration bill allows a foreign worker who has been here since 2003, hasn’t broken the law and has been contributing to the islands’ economy, to stay here.
“We want you to keep working here. We want you to be a part of our community, keep your money here, start a business, build a house, have a family [and] help us grow. And if you want to, you can decide to stay,” he added.
Sablan told the HR managers that after five years guest workers can apply for a green card. And some time after that they can become U.S. citizens, if they want to.
So far, he said, the NMI community has “responded positively” to the legislation.
“Even two years ago, I think there would have been a fearful response. But something has changed. We have changed. We are not so afraid. And that should give us all reason to be hopeful about the future of our community,” he said.Indeed, not just the CNMI community, but the American community as a whole has softened towards immigration reform and their perception of immigrants. Now if only the Republican obstructionists could adopt that view.