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‘The Devil Is in the Details’ on Bipartisan Immigration Reform

Lawmakers offer praise for the bipartisan effort that brought about today's framework, but won't commit until they see a bill.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

January 28, 2013 - 4:29 pm
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“The bipartisan immigration principles represent a real breakthrough on substance and I hope they will be seen as a breakthrough in forming a political coalition to finally solve our immigration problems,” Graham said. “The coalition must also include the president and the House of Representatives.”

The president is scheduled to lay out his vision in a Las Vegas speech tomorrow. House Republicans were decidedly mixed on the effort.

“No one should be surprised that individuals who have supported amnesty in the past still support amnesty. When you legalize those who are in the country illegally, it costs taxpayers millions of dollars, costs American workers thousands of jobs and encourages more illegal immigration,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). “By granting amnesty, the Senate proposal actually compounds the problem by encouraging more illegal immigration.”

“The Senate group laid out some principles today, and the president will do the same tomorrow. But the devil is in the details. I want to see actual legislation and assess the intended and unintended consequences of the policies,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), author of the 2005 bill H.R. 4437 that sparked massive protests over immigration policy. “Extending amnesty to those who came here illegally or overstayed their visas is dangerous waters. We are a nation of laws, and I will evaluate any proposal through that matrix.”

“They have 52 more Senators and 218 House Members to convince after they put their plan on paper in the form of a bill. I agree with most of the language in the very broad guidelines,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). “…The president has demonstrated he will only enforce the laws that he likes. Promises of future law enforcement made under the 1986 Amnesty Act were not adequately kept by President Reagan. Why, then, would Americans accept the promise of this president?”

Democrats said they also want to see the details in print, but expressed optimism that a plan was in the early stages of moving forward.

“The Senate’s bipartisan set of principles is a positive step toward achieving needed immigration reform,” said Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif.). “President Obama expressed that comprehensive immigration reform, including an earned pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, be a top legislative priority.”

“While the details of this legislation still need to be worked out, it is encouraging that both Democrats and Republicans can finally come together and work towards fixing a broken immigration system,” McLeod added. “I look forward to hearing what the president has to say.”

“Our nation’s immigration system hasn’t been updated in over 25 years, and it is well past time to overhaul our laws to make them more effective, humane, and to improve our nation’s economic competitiveness while safeguarding our security,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said. “I stand ready to work with my colleagues as this process moves forward.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) repeated the catchphrase of the day among right and left: “There are details that still need to be worked out,” she said on MSNBC. “I think that it’s definitely a sign of positive things to come. I mean, the devil is always in the details.”

The framework expresses the need to provide the Border Patrol with more technology and personnel, as well as strengthening “prohibitions against racial profiling and inappropriate use of force” by agents. It would also require completion of an entry-exit system tracking people here on temporary visas.

Illegal immigrants would have to register with government, pass a background check, pay a fine and back taxes to earn probationary legal status. Those already waiting legally for a green card at the time the legislation is passed would all have to have their requests processed before anyone here illegally can have their residency request processed.

“Individuals who entered the United States as minor children did not knowingly choose to violate any immigration laws,” the framework states. “Consequently, under our proposal these individuals will not face the same requirements as other individuals in order to earn a path to citizenship.”

“Similarly, individuals who have been working without legal status in the United States agricultural industry have been performing very important and difficult work to maintain America’s food supply while earning subsistence wages. Due to the utmost importance in our nation maintaining the safety of its food supply, agricultural workers who commit to the long term stability of our nation’s agricultural industries will be treated differently than the rest of the undocumented population because of the role they play in ensuring that Americans have safe and secure agricultural products to sell and consume. These individuals will earn a path to citizenship through a different process under our new agricultural worker program.”

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Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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