Today’s Immigration Headlines – November 5, 2014

Cruz Says “Era of Lawlessness” is Ended

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday night declared that the “era of Obama lawlessness is over” as Republicans seized control of the Senate,” The Hill reported.

“‘The American people have risen up and frankly, at the national level, they have given Republicans another chance,’ he said during a speech in Austin. ‘If and when we retake the majority nationally, it will be incumbent on Republicans to lead. To stand up with a bold positive, optimistic agenda to turn this country around, to bring back jobs and growth and opportunity.’”

How the Washington Post Missed the Point on Immigration

“Last week, The Washington Post’s editorial board criticized the GOP for trying to “frighten” voters about a wide-open border. The Post points to substantial increases in border security in the past decade as an indicator that the U.S. is already doing a great deal to stop illegal immigration. Yet, the article misses the real issues underlying the U.S.’s immigration problems: the Obama administration’s failure to enforce U.S. immigration laws, especially in the interior of the U.S. Once people illegally enter the U.S. interior, removing them has become increasingly difficult and rare,” the Daily Signal writes.

How do Hispanic Voters View Immigration?

“Despite yesterday’s election results, President Obama is reportedly still planning to move forward with an executive order to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. I spoke to Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez about the issue, and specifically how it’s viewed by Hispanics,” says Genevieve Wood at the Daily Signal.

HUD Chair Castro Says We Need Immigration to Help Housing Market

“My hope is that the overall housing market will continue to get stronger. The Hispanic community is an important component because it is the fastest-growing segment of the population. Having sound immigration policy is important because it gives more certainty to the 11 million or so folks who are here, who are undocumented. And if the president and/or Congress are able to provide more certainty, you will see more folks who now are in limbo deciding in the future to actually purchase a home,” says Julian Castro in a Washington Post interview.

Immigration Wasn’t A Winning Issue for Democrats

“Immigration was a losing issue in the 2014 election, with Republicans who announced their opposition to President Obama’s legalization plans earning victories across the country and voters in Oregon swatting down a referendum that would have granted driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” the Washington Times reports.

“Republicans said the results should serve as a warning to President Obama, who has said he plans to take unilateral action to grant legal status to illegal immigrants some time this year.”

Immigration Among Upcoming Fights

“With Republicans fully in control of Congress for President Obama’s last two years in office, the partisan fighting and gridlock will only worsen as battles loom over immigration reform, Obamacare and judicial nominations — including a potential U.S. Supreme Court vacancy,” the Boston Globe says.

“There is going to be pressure from the right not to confirm a single nominee,” said Makan Delrahim, who served as chief of staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee under Republican control.

Al Hunt: Immigration Could Make A Comeback in 2015

“Even before the votes are counted today, there is a broad consensus that immigration reform will be a casualty of the midterm elections. Republicans killed it in this Congress and there will be more Republicans next year. Moreover, the controversies over children crossing the Mexican border this year may have shifted the politics to the anti-immigration side,” says Al Hunt in a new column.

“Yet a few professionals in both parties say that reports of reform’s demise may be premature. A compelling case can be made that it would be in the interest of both the Republicans and President Barack Obama to get something done.”

Immigration May Force Britain Out of E.U.

“Since it joined the European Union in 1973, Britain’s relationship with it has never been easy. But until recently, the possibility that the United Kingdom might leave has always been remote,” The Atlantic reports.

“Not anymore. According to a report in Der Spiegel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned British Prime Minister David Cameron that efforts to impose immigration quotas in the U.K. would be a ‘point of no return’ after which Berlin would no longer oppose London’s withdrawal from the union.”

Immigration Harms Workers

“Immigration is an emotionally charged subject. The debate has been politicised, and so-called immigration ‘reform’, a misnomer, actually means amnesty initiatives for undocumented aliens. Although the topic is sometimes characterised as a right-wing/left-wing division, it more accurately expresses a rich/poor divide,” says Vanessa Drucker with FundWeb.

“Basically, the suppression of wage competition for the least skilled workers undermines the indigent,’those with less education, lower cognitive abilities, the uninsured, recovering addicts, or anyone marginal to the labour market,’ notes Mark Krikorian, executive director at the Center for Immigration Studies.”

Election Day May See Both Americans and Non-Citizens at Polls

vote_here_signAs Americans head to the polls to vote this year, new evidence from a variety of sources shows that a number of ineligible non-citizens, including illegal aliens, will be voting as well. (North Carolina State Board of Elections, Oct. 24, 2014; PJmedia.com, Oct. 29, 2014; Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2014)

In North Carolina, the State Board of Elections announced on October 24 that it had completed an audit of more than 10,000 registered voters with questionable citizenship status. Using data from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Homeland Security, elections officials flagged 1,415 registered voters as likely non-citizens. (North Carolina State Board of Elections Press Release, Oct. 24, 2014) Although some of the non-citizens had become citizens since getting a driver’s license, over a hundred of them were DACA recipients, and thus still illegal aliens. (Foxnews.com, Nov. 1, 2014; Winston-Salem Journal, Oct. 21, 2014)

Meanwhile, in Maryland, an election watchdog group has sued the state of Maryland alleging that it has discovered on-going fraudulent voting by non-citizens in Frederick County. (Complaint, Oct. 24, 2014; PJmedia.com, Oct. 29, 2014) The group, the Virginia Voter’s Alliance, alleges that it sent FOIA requests to multiple Maryland counties, and as a result of examining those documents, found individuals who were registered to vote that in past years had also been disqualified from jury service on the basis of non-citizenship. (Id.) It sought to enjoin the county from continuing to allow admitted non-citizens from maintaining voter registration in Maryland. (Id.)

Finally, a new study in the Journal of Electoral Studies suggests non-citizen voting is in fact a nation-wide problem. (Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2014; (Electoral Studies, Dec. 2014) Through an analysis of data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a survey of over 32,000 people in 2008 and 55,000 people in 2010, the authors of the study concluded that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010. (Id.) They also concluded that the numbers of non-citizens voting, as well as their voting patterns, were enough to decide at least the very close Minnesota Senate election of 2008. (Id.) According to the authors, their study is the first to use survey data to estimate non-citizen voting, rather than relying on incidents of detected vote fraud. (Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2014) As such, they point out, they are better able to demonstrate the true scope of non-citizen voting than lower estimates in the past that caught only those detected and prosecuted, generally a much lower number.

Voting in an election for a federal office by a non-citizen is a federal crime, with punishment of a fine or up to a year in prison. (See 18 U.S.C. § 611) Generally, states also prohibit non-citizens from voting in state and local elections. (Electoral Studies, Dec. 2014) Nevertheless, while non-citizens may be criminally prosecuted for voting, the chances of such prosecution are generally remote, and there are few safeguards preventing non-citizens from registering to vote. (See Heritage Foundation Primer on Motor Voter, Sept. 25, 2014)

One of the main reasons non-citizens become registered to vote is The Motor Voter Act. This law, signed by President Clinton in 1993, requires states to offer residents the ability to register to vote when they obtain a driver’s license or sign up for state benefits. (Id. 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq. Foxnews.com, Nov. 1, 2014) They generally need only check a box that indicates they are a U.S. citizen, and state department of motor vehicle officials generally do not authenticate their claim of citizenship. (Id.) Once registered, they can vote as easily as any legally registered voter. And, when a state gives driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, which many states have recently done, it is giving them the ability to easily register to vote as well. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Apr. 2, 2014)

Despite the ease by which non-citizens can register to vote, open borders advocacy groups have long insisted that the problem of non-citizen voter fraud is essentially nonexistent and thus steps taken to restore integrity to the voting roles are unnecessary and discriminatory. (See, for instance, immigrationpolicy.org, Jul. 13, 2012) However in a major decision handed down in 2008, the United States Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter-ID law, declaring that the state had a legitimate interest in improving election procedures and deterring fraud. (Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008) And while the numbers of non-citizens voting may be small compared to the number of registered voters  in a given district, as the Journal of Electoral Studies reports, in close races, such votes could make the difference. (Electoral Studies, Dec. 2014)

GOP Chairman’s Speech Misses the Mark, Again

Republicanlogo.svgAttendees of the Republican National Committee’s Thursday briefing walked out of George Washington University’s Morton Auditorium with more questions than answers about the GOP’s 11 principles to renew America.

Chairman Reince Priebus used the event to spell out the GOP’s new agenda, which focused on nearly a dozen topics that stretched from the economy to immigration and national debt to education. While his speech generated excitement among the base, it lacked a plan for how lawmakers can turn these proposals, like securing the border, into a reality.

Priebus said, “We need an immigration system that secures our borders, upholds the law and boosts our economy.” Yet there was no explanation of how his party would do so. He said, “We can’t reward those who break the laws and punish those who wait in line,” but ceased to mention if his party supports granting amnesty to the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S.

America does not need another speech that reminds voters of the dilemmas it faces because the problems have remained the same every other year. Just compare the 2008 and 2014 Republican platforms, and one can see the principles are the same only listed in a different order. Voters do not want another summary about the issues, they want a concrete plan that details who, what, when, where and how these situations will be handled.

Voters know the southern border is not secure. They are aware that 700 miles of that border is awaiting a fence. However, their problem is not being unaware of those facts as much as it is being unable to affect change.

The only political strategy seen Thursday was repetition and unfortunately those who don’t learn from their mistakes are bound to repeat them.

Do Republicans Have a Plan to Respond to Executive Amnesty?

Barack Obama Should Have Listened to Barack Obama - ImmigrationReform.comOn Tuesday evening, I attended an event at the Heritage Foundation entitled “An Imperial Presidency,” headlined by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration.

In his speech, Chairman Goodlatte explained that the House of Representatives is suing President Obama over his unilateral actions involving the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) because House leadership believes that they must establish the principle that the President cannot rule by decree as he has been on a number of issues.  The “Take Care” clause in Article II of the Constitution, which empowers the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” is a matter of duty, not discretion, Chairman Goodlatte explained.  But the hardest part of the lawsuit will be establishing that a chamber of Congress has the standing to sue at all. The House has passed a bill ensuring that a chamber of Congress would have such standing, the “Enforce the Law Act,” he said.

In the question and answer session following his speech, Chairman Goodlatte said more about the President’s unilateral amnesties specifically, a topic of substantial interest to the audience. He explained that House leadership did give consideration to including the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in the lawsuit, and that if they establish the principle that the House can sue, it will challenge more unilateral actions, as they need to address immigration as well as the President’s actions on the drug laws.  He also said that he believed that Congress has not utilized the Courts “aggressively” enough, and so separation of powers has become very shaky right now.  The lawsuit the House has already filed is the first step of a “step by step” process to curb executive abuses, he explained, because establishing standing is the first step to ultimately deal with the President’s other abuses. While he did not elaborate how Congress could have been more aggressive, he may have meant that the House should have taken that first step, trying to establish standing through a lawsuit, as soon as the President overstepped his authority.

However, he said, should the President follow up in the near future with additional “major” abuses of power, one of which would be the “dramatic expansion” of unlawful and unilateral amnesties, that would call for an “immediate response.” He suggested that this response might take the form of going to Court and asking for an emergency injunction to stop the unilateral amnesty. He acknowledged, however, that the Courts could drag out the process of hearing until past the end of the President’s term, meaning it would not be an effective way of addressing the issue.  While he mentioned that the “Enforce the Law Act” expedites the legal process to a few months, of course, that bill is not currently law, leaving the prospect of litigation as a way to curb the President’s executive overreach quite murky.

Given the difficulties a lawsuit would present at holding the President accountable, I asked if stopping the President through appropriations and not just a lawsuit is also on the table.  In response, Goodlatte said that the power of the purse is “always” on the table. However, he implied that if one chamber of Congress refuses to use the power of the purse to rein in the Executive branch, it is difficult for the other to do so alone.  If the Republicans should take the Senate, appropriations would therefore be a more likely option for the Republicans to pursue, he hinted.

Chairman Goodlatte also stated that the President’s threat of unilateral actions is what is preventing legislation from happening on immigration: “we all believe in immigration reform,” he said, but when the President claims that he can do it on his own, those who agree with him don’t think they need to enter into negotiations about what needs to be done to enforce the law.

It should be noted that funding for the government will currently run out on December 11, during the lame duck period.  The President has suggested that he will act before the “holidays,” which he could easily stretch to mean as late as December 24. That date would be after Louisiana’s potential runoff election on December 6, and after an appropriations bill is passed, if the lame duck Congress passes one before funding runs out. The question for true immigration reform supporters to ponder is therefore, especially if the Republicans win a majority in the Senate in November, will they pass an appropriations bill funding the government for a year right before the President reveals his hand on what unilateral amnesties he will decree? To do so would remove what leverage they have through the power of the purse until that appropriation expires.  Or will they pass a short term continuing resolution funding the government only until January? Based on this panel, the answer is still undetermined.

Boehner’s Tight Rope Walk Above an Immigration Mine Field

tightropeHouse Speaker John Boehner’s reelection campaign has received  $15 million since early 2013, reported Open Secrets. A considerable portion of that funding came from business PACs and special interest groups looking to help the speaker win his 13th term in office.

In addition to representing his constituents in Ohio’s 8th congressional District, the speaker (as do many of his colleagues in Congress) also works to support legislation that additionally serves the best interest of some of the country’s biggest business and corporate empires. Boehner is widely known as business’ political sweetheart because of his understanding for how companies can cut costs and grow their profit margins.

And while businesses support immigration reforms that include growing the population, increasing worker visas and other methods for loosening our current immigration policies, those views do not correspond to the interests of an average voter in the Buckeye State. According to a 2013 poll, the majority of the speaker’s constituents believed current illegal immigrants should not be given legal status until a plan to secure the border has been implemented and our borders are actually secured.

That division of opinion leaves Boehner in-between a rock and a hard place. Although the Rothenberg Report deemed his seat “currently safe Republican,” and he is not expected to lose this November, Boehner’s battle to adequately represent everyday Americans and Big Labor is one that will certainly continue into the 114th Congress.