A group of “22 Senate Democrats wants President Barack Obama to bypass Congress and use his executive power to delay deportations of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children,” POLITICO reports.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and others sent a letter to Obama this week urging him to suspend deportation for thousands of immigrants who would have been affected by the DREAM Act.
The immigration bill passed the Democrat-controlled House but came up five votes short in the Senate during December’s lame-duck session. The legislation has stalled with Republicans now in charge of the House.
“Granting deferred action to DREAM Act students, who are not an enforcement priority for [the Homeland Security Department], helps to conserve limited enforcement resources. …” the senators wrote in the letter, which was made public Thursday. “We strongly believe that DREAM Act students should not be removed from the United States, because they have great potential to contribute to our country and our children should not be punished for their parents’ mistakes.”
DREAM Act would “put young immigrants on a path toward legal status if they came to the country before the age of 15; have lived in the U.S. for at least five years; don’t have a serious criminal record; have a high school diploma or GED equivalent; and attend college or serve in the military for two years.”
Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) have introduced legislation “that amends the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to limit birthright citizenship to children born in the U.S. to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, legal resident alien or active member of the U.S. armed forces,” according to a press release from Vitter’s office.
Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Jon Tester (D-MT) today “revealed that H.R. 1, the Continuing Resolution (CR) approved by House Republicans, could result in 870 fewer border patrol agents guarding our nation’s borders,” according to a joint press release.
The senators called the cuts a “giant step backward in securing our border” and said that they could effectively repeal the emergency bipartisan border security bill passed last Congress. The proposed cuts would also reduce funding for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology by $272 million.
In a letter to Congressman Harold Rogers, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, and Congressman Robert Aderholt, Chairman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, the senators called the cuts put forth in the CR “dangerous” and “irresponsible,” and said they would harm the security of our nation.
The senators wrote, “We are troubled to learn that the proposed House Continuing Resolution provides funding for only 20,500 agents, which effectively nullifies the very border security gains that were made in August, and again leaves our agents understaffed against the dangerous cartels that we were attempting to combat through our emergency legislation.”
The senators said that a bipartisan emergency border security bill passed in August of last year allocated $600 million to bring the total number of border patrol agents up to 21,370 – an increase of 1,000. The House CR reduces that number by 870 to 20,500. The House proposal also reduces the Department of Homeland Security budget for border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology by $272 million. Reducing the funding available to repair the fence will greatly reduce its effectiveness, wasting the billions of dollars invested to build it in the first place. With a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report indicating that only four percent of our northern border is secure, and with thousands of attempted incursions across our southern border every year, the senators called the cuts proposed by the GOP “simply dangerous.”
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “have rekindled their alliance on immigration reform, taking some early steps to test the political will for addressing the contentious issue this year,” POLITICO reports.
Their call list hasn’t focused so much on House and Senate members who’ve been reliable pro-immigration votes in the past. Instead, they’re looking to a strange-bedfellows mix of conservative and liberal constituencies that can provide a “safety net” of support, as Graham put it, once the issue heats up.
“It’s in the infant stage,” Graham told POLITICO. “I don’t know what the political appetite is to do something.”
Now, conservative evangelicals, the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, business organizations and immigrant advocacy groups say they have gotten word from Schumer’s office that a renewed effort is under way. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce confirmed that it is back in the mix, after a hasty exit last year when Schumer proposed a legislative framework with a temporary worker program that favored labor unions.
And Schumer and his staff have quietly begun reaching out to some unlikely players in the Senate, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has professed a newfound freedom since winning reelection last year without the Republican Party’s help.
“What we’re doing is beginning these preliminary talks, particularly with outside groups, to try and regain the consensus that was pretty nicely formed last year,” Schumer said in a phone interview. “And who knows, we might surprise everyone and get something done. We realize it is a tough thing to do, but it is very important, and it’s worth a shot. We’ve been getting interesting, positive responses — from places you wouldn’t expect it.”
Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have introduced a resolution “that would amend the Constitution so that a person born in the United States to illegal aliens does not automatically gain citizenship unless at least one parent is a legal citizen, legal immigrant, active member of the Armed Forces or a naturalized legal citizen,” according to a joint press release.
Vitter and Paul do not believe that the 14th Amendment confers birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens, either by its language or intent. This resolution makes clear that under the 14th Amendment a person born in the United States to illegal aliens does not automatically gain citizenship.