Immigration Reform By End of Year: The Gang of 8 Plus Obama
A group of eight U.S. Senators four Democrats and four Republicans announced a plan on January 28 to reform immigration policy and secure the southern border. A day later, President Barack Obama gave a 20-minute address in Las Vegas on immigration reform, repeatedly stressing “now’s the time.” House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, also sounded off this week when he told the Ripon Society, a Republican political organization, that it is “time to deal” with immigration. The president said he believes the country and government have the resolve to get comprehensive immigration reform done. Obama also pointed to the “emotions” and partisan politics that are sure to accompany any potential reform. The Department of Homeland Security estimated in 2008 that 75 percent of illegal immigrants in the United States are from Latin America, with 61 percent being from Mexico alone. The GOP is conscious of the fact 75 percent of Latinos voted for Obama in 2012, a trend they are hoping to curtail by the 2014 mid-term elections.
Who are the “Gang Of 8?”
Marco Rubio, R-FL, and the son of Cuban immigrants, has maintained he favors reform, but wants a secured border first. Rubio is also concerned with the fact that those without a green card will be able to take advantage of healthcare reform policies in 2014 without paying any taxes. John McCain, R-AZ, is the other prominent Republican who has been criticized for continually flip-flopping on his immigration stance. McCain was forced to take a more hard-lined stance against reform during the 2010 mid-term elections, as he faced a stiff challenge from Tea Party candidate J.D. Hayworth. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Jeff Flake, R-AZ, are the other two Republicans, with Chuck Schumer, D-NY; Robert Menendez D-NJ; Michael Bennett, D-CO; and Dick Durbin, D-IL, the four Democrats.
Key Provisions in Reform
The key element to both the Senate and the White House’s plans on reform is a pathway to citizenship for those who are already here illegally. Citizenship would be conditional pending the payment of back taxes, passing a background check, and learning English. Work permits would be issued in the interim so the government could begin stopping the “shadow economy” immigrants are forced to live under. A provision requiring all employers in the country to use E-Verify is also a key component to reform. Immigrants will be able to invest their earnings something they are currently not able to do because of “shadow economy” in which they are currently living. For the first time, they will be able to put their income back into a struggling U.S. economy through taxes and stock brokers like Brian Ferdinand at Liquid Holdings and by paying federal and state income taxes.
Obama’s Warning to House GOP
The President, re-invigorated by his decisive victory last November, has warned the Republican-led House of Representatives that he will send his own bill to them and force a vote on it if they cannot come up with something on their own. At least 51 of the 232 Republicans in the House identify as Tea Party members and are sure to vote against any sort of reform that include a pathway to citizenship.