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Leahy Admits Panel Will Miss Immigration Deadline; GOP Says Take It Slow

Group of Eight bill “potentially could be the most dramatic and consequential alteration of our immigration system in nearly 30 years." Also read: Obama Administration Refuses to Measure Border Security

Bill Straub


March 22, 2013 - 12:39 am
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WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy expressed frustration on Wednesday over the slow pace of immigration-reform efforts and acknowledged that it likely will take more than a month to get a legislative package together.

That assessment from the Vermont Democrat came just a day after five Republican committee members, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member, sent a letter to Leahy expressing concern that immigration reform was being pushed through too hastily.

Noting that the initiative “potentially could be the most dramatic and consequential alteration of our immigration system in nearly 30 years, impacting nearly every aspect of our legal and economic structure, and increasing entitlement spending to historic levels,” the five said sufficient time should be allotted for a series of comprehensive hearings and to give the voting public an opportunity to familiarize itself with the issue.

“We believe the process we have set forth is necessary not only to ensure that members are properly educated on this complex measure, but also to ensure a fair and open process so that the American people know what is in any such bill,” the letter read.

In a statement released in advance of a committee hearing called Wednesday to delve into some aspects of immigration reform, Leahy chided a bipartisan group of senators splicing together an immigration game plan for conducting its business behind closed doors, saying he favored “an open and transparent process during which all 18 senators serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee will have the opportunity to participate and to propose or oppose ideas for reform.”

The group’s proposal was expected to be completed by the beginning of March. That deadline, Leahy noted, has come and gone. The lawmakers continue to negotiate over issues ranging from awarding citizenship to work visas.

“This process will take time,” Leahy said. “It will not be easy. There will be strongly held, differing points of view. Because we do not yet have legislative language to debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee will not be able to report a comprehensive immigration bill by the end of April, which was my goal.”

Regardless, it appears reform advocates are well on their way toward piecing together a comprehensive, bipartisan package with assistance, in some instances, coming from unexpected quarters.

On Tuesday, appearing before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a Tea Party icon, asserted that “the Republican Party must embrace more legal immigration.” Paul said the nation must continue efforts to beef up enforcement efforts along the southern border but he also admitted “we aren’t going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants.”

“Immigration reform will not occur until conservative Republicans, like myself, become part of the solution,” he said. “I am here today to begin that conversation.”

Illegal immigrants must be treated with “understanding and compassion,” he said, saying that under his plan work visas would be afforded to those “who are willing to come forward and work.” They also would be allowed to go through the usual process to apply for citizenship. Bringing the 12 million “out of the shadows,” he said, will turn them into “taxpaying members of society.”

“If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the House reportedly is close to composing its own bipartisan plan. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, the House Democratic whip, both acknowledged that a deal is close at hand.

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All Comments   (6)
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I propose my own elements of immigration reform that'll discourage any future illegal immigration. You'll have two options: Option 1: You stay here in United States it'll take you 20-25 years to be granted full US citizenship (which includes driver's license right to vote etc.). Option 2: You go back to your native country and you're granted such in 5-10 years. Foolproof plan if adopted correctly. It would encourage more legal immigration and less illegal immigration. If you're an illegal here and saw the options which would you rather go for; wait 20+ years or just 5?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why is it that we have to continue to "just accept" those who have broken the law to come here? How about they "just accept" going home?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Because we have 12 million of those and they're unlikely to be deported because it is impossible to do so. Also if you're calling it "amnesty, WE ALREADY HAVE DE FACTO AMNESTY!!!!!! We have 12 million illegals living here (some of them for a decade or more) and no one's telling them to leave! So can we just stop automatically dubbing immigration reform as "amnesty" right on the spot!? Also, I fully support Rand Paul's plan.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh dear, how will this subject be resolved? Let me guess. The Dems will all begin claiming they have put togethor a balanced package. The Dems will tell us a few dozen sob stories about "less-than-fully-documented" immigrants that are almost ready to cure cancer or gut our lawns except the mean ol' GOP is standing in the way. Then some former VietCong prisoner rides in and offers a compromise that give the Dems everything they want and the Dems will say he's responsible in exchange for open borders and a blue-ribbon commission to claim that since Obama isn't arresting illegal border crossers the border is secure.

If your GOP member votes for any change he's selling you out you. The fact the GOP keeps getting taken, in exactly the same way decade after decade, should tell you the fix is in, and the GOP must be taken over. Instead it tells most Republican voters they should ask Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly what to do. The answer always being "surrender today and get ready for a future fight." Wash, rinse, repeat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well I guess I'll comment if no one else will (my how PJ Media has fallen since the changes).

For what it's worth, I am a Spanish surnamed American. My grandparents immigrated here (legally) through Ellis Island in 1902.

Excuse me for calling BS on almost all of the Democrats sloganeering on this issue, i.e. "understanding and compassion" , "out of the shadows", " "creating taxpaying members of society", "straightforward pathways to citizenship". The fact is that these politicians created this mess either by intention or incompetence and now they see millions of permanent Democratic votes in an amnesty based solution, the cost of which will be borne by the rest of us who have worked hard to build a decent standard of living here in America.

I agree that there is no way to deport 20 million people without creating history's next trail of tears. But why not just make a real attempt at border security, grant guest worker visas to those that are already here (that also covers their children) and then create a true "path to citizenship" that involves real assimilation and doesn't involve exploiting our pathetically bloated entitlement system or our race and victimology based court system. Why does it have to happen overnight? Oh that;s right - because the politicians need the votes.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ditto. My grandparents immigrated fro Italy in 1892, and went through the three steps necessary to become citizens. My wife immigrated from Germany in 1958 and it took three years to become a citizen. Why can't illegals take the same track. The biggest mistake America made was to try to accommodate two languages. If you are unwilling to learn English, go home.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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