Many of the candidates vying for New York City mayor told TPM on Thursday that they oppose a measure being considered by the city council that would allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.
The potential law would allow those who are "lawfully present in the United States" and have lived in the five boroughs for "six months or longer" to vote in local elections.
The general consensus in Washington is that a bill expanding legal immigration for high-skilled and low-skilled workers alike could find Republican support with ease -- it's dealing with undocumented immigrants that's the hard part. But a poll by Pew Research suggests the political environment may be tilted in the opposite direction.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
New York City could soon become the first major city in the country to give non-citizens the right to vote. The proposal, which would allow certain non-citizens to vote in local elections, appears to have a veto-proof majority in the New York City Council -- enough to overcome opposition by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As hearings on the proposal get underway Thursday, supporters are optimistic it will become law by the end of the year and believe it will have an impact beyond the five boroughs.
"It's going to be huge and just imagine the implications that are involved here," Councilman Daniel Dromm, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation along with Councilwoman Gale Brewer, told TPM Wednesday.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin examining about 300 proposed amendments to the bipartisan immigration bill, kicking off a new phase in the reform effort. While most are unlikely to pass, the amendments give a valuable preview as to which issues the final battle over immigration will be fought hardest over. You can expect to see lawmakers come back to some of these same debates many times over before any kind of legislation hits the president's desk.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The conservative Heritage Foundation is launching a new campaign to sink immigration reform by claiming it will explode the deficit thanks to increased social services for undocumented immigrants.
On Monday, the think tank debuted a new study by Robert Rector and Jason Richwine claiming the bill would cost $6.3 trillion over the lifetime of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who could potentially gain legal status through bipartisan legislation under consideration in the Senate.
Going into immigration reform, supporters knew that the biggest obstacle to passage would be on the right and planned their entire strategy around minimizing the inevitable backlash. Now as conservative voices grow louder in opposition to the newly released Senate bill, their plan is being put to the test.
On Wednesday, Tea Party Patriots' co-founder Jenny Beth Martin penned an op-ed on Breitbart.com decrying the immigration bill as "Obamacare Redux." Her objections were primarily process based -- the bill was too long and shouldn't have been negotiated by a small group of senators.
"This is not about amnesty," she wrote. "It is not about illegals. It is about how government has gone off the rails. Just like Obamacare that was negotiated behind closed doors, any legislation cooked up in a secretive gang-like attitude among D.C. politicians is not the kind of system the forefathers had in mind."
The bipartisan immigration bill proposed by the "Gang of 8" is going to pass the Senate. That much is clear to Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). But they don't just want it to pass, they want it to pass big.
That's the message the two conveyed on Thursday after being asked about fellow co-sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) suggestion that their bill might get as many as 70 votes.
"We need that," McCain told reporters at a breakfast held by the Christian Science Monitor. "And I think it's doable."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) may be the face of immigration for the right, but trailing not far behind is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has gone much farther than other House leaders in embracing reform.
Like Rubio, Ryan is a potential 2016 presidential candidate, which both lends more weight to his support and puts him in line for a damaging backlash if the issue becomes toxic on the right.
Ryan offered pubic encouragement to Rubio and the other "Gang of 8" senators throughout their negotiations to craft a comprehensive reform bill. And unlike other House leaders who encouraged "reform" in theory while dodging the specifics of what a bill would entail, Ryan specifically embraced a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants right out of the gate.
In recent days, Ryan has stepped up his public advocacy on the topic just as the Boston Marathon attack -- allegedly carried out by ethnic Chechen brothers who came to the United States as refugees when they were children -- is presenting new political challenges to the reform effort.
On Monday, Ryan joined Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), one of the lawmakers working on a bipartisan House immigration bill, for a series of joint events in Chicago promoting reform
"We need it for national security reasons. We need it for the economy," Ryan said. "We do not want to have a society where we have different classes of people who cannot reach their American dream by not being a full citizen."
Gutierrez, a longtime progressive proponent of revamping immigration laws, noted at one of their events that Ryan wasn't a "Johnny come lately" and had worked on the issue throughout the last decade. In a previous interview, Gutierrez said that Ryan had told him during his vice presidential run that he planned on returning to a comprehensive reform bill after the election, win or lose -- even as running mate Mitt Romney took a hardline position on the trail.
But Ryan's newfound visibility also puts him line to get some of the same talk radio abuse that Rubio has been scrambling to contain lately.
On Tuesday, Breitbart reporter Joel Pollak grilled Ryan about why he appeared with Gutierrez, "who has some very radical views on immigration," and about a variety of conservative concerns about the Senate bill.
In one notable exchange, Ryan argued that the Boston marathon attack -- currently a source of conflict for the Senate's immigration efforts -- was further evidence that Congress needed to pass reform.
"If anything, it shows that we need to modernize our immigration laws," he said. "We don't know who is overstaying their visa, we don't know who is coming into the country, we don't have firm control of our borders, and we need to modernize our laws."
"Paul Ryan is an extremely likable guy," Levin said. "He's been on this show many times. I like the man. But he's creating a record here for himself that makes it very, very hard, in my view, if he chooses to run for president, to vote for him.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
America's refugee policy, up until now one of the least discussed elements of immigration reform, is coming into the spotlight as lawmakers grapple with the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing.
The two suspects in the case, Dzokhar Tsarnaev and Tamewrlan Tsarnaev, reportedly arrived in the United States as refugees when they were children, meaning there's little chance a background check at that point could have caught anything potentially threatening in their past. But the broader system is still being brought up as a concern.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is pushing back hard against suggestions that his immigration bill will be an electoral boon for Democratic candidates, arguing that Republicans can win back Latinos with improved messaging and that long term predictions to the contrary are idle speculation.
The Senate "Gang of 8" has done its job in producing a bipartisan immigration bill. Now they just have to convince Republicans to vote for it. To that end, pro-reform lawmakers and interest groups are launching a massive, co-ordinated effort to address every possible conservative concern about the bill -- and undermine the opponents stoking them.
Conversations with activists and senators this month as well as their own public efforts reveal a deep playbook designed to address skeptics from every possible angle. Here are a few of the major avenues they're pursuing.
Get Marco Rubio To Hold Their Hand
Rubio really is a one-man conservative outreach program when it comes to this bill. His ties to the tea party base are so deep that reformers were constantly worried he'd abandon negotiations rather than risk an inevitable backlash by signing onto a compromise. Rubio made light of the dynamic at a press conference introducing the legislation on Thursday when he took the podium, said "Actually, I changed my mind," and pretended to walk off.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Like it or not, the Boston marathon bombing and its two foreign-born suspects have become an unavoidable topic in the immigration debate, prompting strong reactions from reform opponents, supporters, and everyone in between.
Nowhere was the tension greater than in the Senate's second hearing on the "Gang of 8" immigration bill Wednesday, where lawmakers clashed over whether it was fair to draw lessons from the Boston attack in crafting reform and, if so, what policy response was needed.
11:50 a.m. ET: See below for an update to this post.
For the second time in as many hearings, the top ranking Democrat and Republican examining immigration legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee clashed over whether the Boston marathon bombing should be tied to reform.
"Let me point out one thing that has troubled me a great deal," committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said in his opening remarks."Last week opponents of comprehensive immigration reform began to exploit the Boston marathon bombing....I urge restraint in that regard."
Rush Limbaugh's argument to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) about why he's not inclined to support Rubio's immigration reform bill was pretty straightforward: Latinos don't like Republicans and with their freeloading, big government ways, they never will. So why bring in more of them?
"I must tell you, I just don't understand this, Senator," Limbaugh said in opening his interview with Rubio on his radio program Thursday. "I don't understand why we are doing something that the Democrats are salivating over."
Limbaugh's argument, common among reform opponents, was that Latino voters are sympathetic to a more active government in polling and therefore don't deserve the party's attention. He suggested trying to maximize the evangelical vote instead.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Immigration supporters are cautiously optimistic about the "Gang of 8" reform bill, but there's still a long list of complaints they want to address before it gets to final passage. On Wednesday, activists and lobbyists wasted no time in voicing their concerns, from anger over LGBT protections to fears that the path to citizenship will leave too many people stuck in the middle.
Immigration advocates are encouraged that the bill provides a relatively clear criteria for legalizing the undocumented population and a mechanism that, in theory, would allow many of them to become citizens within the next 10-15 years. But there are still some worries that various restrictions will leave out too many people along the way.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
With the release of the "Gang of 8"'s bipartisan immigration bill today, conservative opponents of reform now have a juicy 844-page target to attack instead of just a set of talking points. Mindful of the risk, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is responding rapidly to rumors and innuendo on the right in the hopes he can shut them down before they spread.
Despite calls from LGBT and immigrant rights groups, the draft immigration reform legislation released by the Senate "Gang of 8" doesn't include provisions that would allow same-sex couples to access the nation's visa and immigration system.
After months of vague talking points about creating a "path to citizenship" versus a "special path to citizenship" versus "amnesty," the Senate's "Gang of 8" finally has an immigration bill ready. And, much to the relief of immigration advocates, there is a relatively clear and reliable process for today's 11 million undocumented residents to eventually become citizens.
That's good news for the immigrant rights community. But it also means the Republican members of the gang -- Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) -- have a difficult path ahead convincing a skeptical party that these features are necessary to passing a final bill. Or as one immigration lawyer sympathetic to reform put it to TPM: "Rubio is going to get crucified for agreeing to this."
Let's dive in to how it works:
On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators are introducing a major immigration bill that would bolster border security, legalize many of America's 11 million undocumented immigrants and put them on a path to citizenship, dramatically overhaul the legal immigration system, and crack down on employers who hire unauthorized workers.
While a scheduled press conference to debut the bill was cancelled in response to the Boston bombing, the senators plan on releasing the bill in full later today. In the meantime, TPM has obtained a 17-page memo outlining the broad strokes of the upcoming "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013." You can read the full document below.
The hard work of writing a bipartisan immigration bill is done as the Senate "Gang of 8" is expected to debut their legislation on Tuesday. Now comes the next part: jockeying for credit if it passes and deflecting blame if it fails.
Enter American Bridge, a prominent Democratic super PAC devoted to tracking Republican candidates and gathering opposition research.
The group is out with a dossier Monday entitled "Barriers to Reform: The anti-immigrant and extremist money blocking progress in the Senate." The report singles out a handful of Republican senators for what it describes as "disturbing" anti-immigration rhetoric and notes donations they've received from individuals and foundations who have also funded border hawk groups like FAIR and NumbersUSA, among others.
So who's on the list of these supposed "barriers to reform" with "troubling histories on the issue?" Every Republican who wrote the immigration bill.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
For the past several months, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) walked a fine line on comprehensive immigration reform: simultaneously working to craft legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship while bending over backward to assuage and sometimes play to the concerns of his conservative colleagues and supporters.
But on Sunday, as he and seven of his Republican and Democratic colleagues prepare to release a comprehensive immigration reform bill early this week, Rubio sang a different tune. The potential 2016 presidential contender took center stage with appearances on seven talk shows -- including on two Spanish media outlets -- kicking off a serious effort to win over skeptical Republicans and pass reform.
After months of work, a bipartisan group of senators working on immigration reform say they plan to finally release a draft of their legislation within the next week. But that's only the beginning of the next phase of the reform debate as activists, lawmakers, and the broader public pick over the bill, senators pitch their own improvements, and the House considers whether it's an acceptable model for its own legislation.
"I think that there's obviously some strategic leaking going on, some of which gives us cause for concern, some of which makes us happy, some of which we just don't know all of the details," Frank Sharry, director of the pro-reform group America's Voice, told reporters on a conference call Friday. "To a large extent we're going to have to wait to see it all and fully analyze it."
TPM compiled five of the biggest questions that reformers (and reform opponents) are waiting to see the answers to before they pass judgement on the bill.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Tens of thousands of people rallied on the Capitol lawn on Wednesday to tell Congress that the "Time Is Now" for immigration reform. They picked a pretty good time to do it.
Republican senators in the "Gang of 8" crafting an immigration bill are eager to unveil and pass their legislation as soon as possible, brushing aside concerns from within their party that they slow things down.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Republicans working on a bipartisan immigration bill are touting a new study by a conservative economist to prove that legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants will boost the economy and lower the deficit.
The report, which was authored by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum think tank and a prominent Republican economic adviser, argues that increased immigration would amount to a net gain to the economy, mostly by bringing in more young workers to maintain population growth and support retirees with their taxes.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) recent concerns about the pace of immigration reform are causing heartburn for immigration activists, who warned the senator on Friday that he'll only damage the odds of a bill passing and his own political standing if he keeps calling for a slower process.
"Most of us think he's been courageous in engaging the debate and are very hopeful he'll stay in it," Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, said on a conference call with reporters. "On the other hand, he seems to keep building himself exit ramps."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
As immigration reform heats up, one of the big names outside of Washington to keep an eye on is Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX).
No, wait, don't stop reading!
Perry's national relevance is at a low point after running the most cringeworthy presidential campaign in recent memory. But he's still the longtime governor of a large border state, he's still weighing a presidential run, and he still has a visceral feel for the party's conservative id. And even if he's not the most influential guy shaping the immigration debate (or even the 100th most influential), Perry might be a decent bellwether of conservative support for reform.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Any immigration reform bill that comes out of Congress this year is expected to expand the number of visas available for future immigrants. But religious leaders, labor groups, and immigration activists are worried that the new visas will come at the expense of families, who could find it harder to sponsor their relatives to join them in the United States.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Responding to demands by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that immigration reform proceed at a leisurely pace this year, Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is warning that he won't let legislation get bogged down in the procedural muck.
"I am hopeful you recognize, as I do, that if we do not act quickly and decisively we will lose the opportunity we now have to fix our immigration system," Leahy wrote in a letter to Rubio on Tuesday. "Those who have been committed to this effort for decades are counting on us and expect the Senate to act thoughtfully and without further delay. I have little doubt we are capable of doing both and that our committee process will be, as is my practice, a full and open public debate of the legislation."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
A pro-business immigration group is raising concerns that a breakthrough deal between labor and industry on guest workers is dangerously flawed and could attract another wave of illegal immigrants.
Tamar Jacoby, executive director of ImmigrationWorks USA, warned on Monday that the chief problem of the new worker visa program envisioned by the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce is its size.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
You'd expect Sen. Marco Rubio to be elated by the news over the weekend that labor and business groups reached a deal on a guest worker program, given that he'd identified their slow progress as one of the biggest obstacles to reform. Instead, Rubio used the occasion to issue warnings about "premature" celebration and demand that the Senate slow the whole process down.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Jose Antonio Vargas and Mark Meckler aren't two guys you'd expect to share a beer together. The former is the most famous undocumented worker in the country and a prominent activist for immigration reform. The latter co-founded the Tea Party Patriots, the vast grassroots network that anchored the conservative backlash against President Obama's agenda.
Yet somehow the two struck up a warm relationship in recent months. Vargas has come to appreciate Meckler as a sounding board for how to sell the right on immigration while Meckler admires Vargas for his underdog story.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Senators working to craft immigration reform legislation expressed optimism that a final deal is near at hand Sunday, following news that labor and business groups had come to an agreement on a guest-worker program, the absence of which threatened to derail reform efforts. But members of the bipartisan Gang of Eight crafting the legislation conceded there is not yet a final deal.
Senators on the Sunday talk shows, all members of the Gang of Eight, said that final agreement among them depends on the language of the bill that will be drafted next week.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
A strong majority of Americans, including Republicans, supports immigration reform that would let the nation's undocumented population stay in the country legally, according to a new poll. But there's a sharp divide over how partisans view the immigrants themselves.
Some 71 percent of respondents said they support granting at least some legal status to illegal immigrants, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center, which surveyed 1,501 American adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent. Democrats favored legalization by a 76-21 margin, versus 64-34 for Republicans and 70-29 for Independents. There were divisions over whether a bill should eventually grant immigrants citizenship or just permanent residency, however: Democrats favored citizenship over just legal status by a 48-24 margin, Republicans by 38-22, and independents by 39-28.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has taken on a lead role in immigration negotiations despite living under the constant threat of a conservative primary in his 2014 re-election race. Which puts him in the odd position of being both the author of legislation and the prime political test case for whether his own party's base can get behind it.
"There's a sea change happening in the Republican Party on this and I see it here," Graham told Bloomberg News in an interview published Thursday. "If I can sell it in South Carolina, don't come to me and say it's hard. This is a conservative state, and the way we're selling it is to fix it."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Senators working on a bipartisan immigration bill toured the Arizona border Wednesday in an effort to reassure worried hawks that security will be a top priority in any legislation they produce.
"What I learned today is we have adequate manpower, but not adequate technology," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters after meeting with Border Patrol agents.
Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 28 brand new American citizens, President Obama called on Congress to fix the nation's "broken" immigration system without delay.
"We just got, at this point, to work up the political courage to do what needs to be done," Obama said at the White House event, citing a broad bipartisan consensus on the basic structure of a comprehensive reform bill. "I expect the debate to begin next month. I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible."
Long-simmering tensions between labor and business over importing new workers are spilling out in the open, raising fears that an impasse between two of the biggest stakeholders in the immigration debate could scuttle comprehensive immigration reform.
The tone of what had been mostly quiet and behind-the-scenes talks between the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce has been heating up in recent days as Republicans and business lobbyists have gone out of their way to preemptively blame unions for killing a bill. It's not clear whether the public tiff is part of tough final negotiations or a sign that talks are deteriorating -- or perhaps both.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
A group of hardline conservative members of the House are coming out in favor of immigration reform, writing in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) dated March 21 that they support his efforts to negotiate a comprehensive bill.
Why are so many Republican politicians getting on board with immigration reform lately? If a new study by the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings Institute is any indication, it's because their constituents are getting their back.