Immigration Reform Stalls in the House

Immigration art

May 13, 2013; CBS News

One thing that’s certain after the House GOP meeting last Wednesday is that immigration reform isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Republican representatives convened to discuss how to proceed after the Senate passed its comprehensive immigration reform bill, which includes provisions for what Senator McCain described as “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” stringent law enforcement measures, and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

House Republicans are well aware that their party mandarins want them to act in short order and produce immigration legislation, but they are not to be rushed. The priorities of national Republicans and representatives are simply different. Party leaders fear losing the Latino vote in 2016 and beyond, while House members fear losing the conservative White vote in upcoming primaries. (Very few House members have sizeable numbers of Latino voters to worry about. On average, only 10 percent of voters in Republican districts are Latino.)

Any steps taken will be after the August recess, and they will be small. The inclination is toward tackling immigration reform piecemeal, starting with border security, interior enforcement, visas for high-skilled workers, and an agricultural guest worker program. But a path to citizenship, a crucial component of any comprehensive immigration reform bill, is a non-starter for most House members, being tantamount to amnesty.

Some Republicans have suggested an alternative path that leads to “legalization,” not citizenship. But isn’t this just semantics? The Senate bill would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants and, after 13 years or so, allow them to naturalize. The House could pass a bill that “only” provides legal status, but under the current system, immigrants could eventually get green cards and in time, citizenship. The process might be tougher and longer, but it nonetheless ends the same…unless formerly undocumented immigrants are banned from ever becoming citizens.

In the meantime, others like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte are open to providing a path to citizenship for one group of unauthorized immigrants: those who were brought into the country as children. Cantor and Goodlatte are drafting their own version of the DREAM Act, which passed in the House but failed in the Senate in December of 2010.

Immigration reform might still happen. But not any time soon, and not in a fashion as comprehensive as some of us would like.

Originially posted on Nonprofit Quarterly’s NPQ Newswire.

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President Romney’s ‘Día Uno’ Campaign Won’t Earn Him Latino Votes

Republican contender Mitt Romney

Republican contender Mitt Romney. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr)

Mitt Romney sealed the deal in Texas on Tuesday and is now the official Republican presidential candidate. The former Massachusetts governor has been actively reaching out to Latino voters who he managed to alienate during the primaries.

At the Latino Coalition’s annual economic summit in Washington, D.C., last week, Romney explained how he would improve schools andcalled education “the greatest civil rights issue of our era and our greatest challenge.”

The weekend prior, his team released its Spanish-language ad campaign entitled “Día Uno,” which focuses on what Romney would tackle his first day as President – the economy.  The ads are running in Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio.

The odd but unsurprising thing about both of these efforts is that Gov. Romney does not mention immigration whatsoever. He brazenly skirts the issue.

No doubt Latinos care about their children’s education and having jobs that provide for their families. But precisely because family and community are also very important to Latinos, immigration is an issue Romney cannot sweep under the rug.

The core of his immigration policy, attrition through enforcement, has prompted families to remove their children from school and parents to leave jobs out of fear. Moreover, his plan to reform immigration includes tighter enforcement and border control and eschews any path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants. Romney’s hardline immigration stance greatly impacts Latino voters, many of whom have undocumented family members and friends.

“Make no mistake, when I am President, you won’t wake up every day and wonder if the President is on your side,” he proclaimed at the Latino Coalition meeting. Mitt Romney is right. Latino and other voters with ties to immigrant communities know that should he win the presidency, he will not be on their side from day one. He has made that rather obvious.

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, June 1, 2012.

The ARMS Act Does Not Make Sense

Marine is sworn in as a US Citizen

Marine is sworn in as a U.S. Citizen. (NYC Marines/flickr)

Republican Rep. David Rivera proposed a bill late last week which would give undocumented youth a path to citizenship.

The Adjusted Residency for Military Service Act – the ARMS Act – is a pruned version of the DREAM Act. Immigrant youth who were brought into the United States illegally as children have the chance to change their status by attending college or joining the military under the DREAM Act. Rivera’s measure only allows undocumented youth the opportunity to legalize through enlisting in military service.

“If somebody is willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America,” Rivera told the Miami Herald.

Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney support the ARMS Act.

“I think there is no opposition to that part of the DREAM Act,” Gingrich told a gathering of the Latin Builder’s Association Friday. “I think it should go through immediately.”

Undocumented youth, however, are not as enthusiastic about the ARMS Act.

Juan Escalante, a DREAM Act activist, says that “the ARMS Act is the GOP ‘dream’ of the Dream Act.”

“The ARMS Act is an opportunistic attempt, in my opinion, from the GOP trying to capitalize some DREAM Act momentum,” he said.

Escalante is not the only DREAMer who opposes the military-only version of the DREAM Act.

Colorlines reporter Julianne Hing wrote that undocumented youth ask, “why it is that the only way they can serve the country they’ve grown up in is by joining the military. Undocumented youth argue that they are fully capable of serving the country in many other ways.”

Escalante, who has no objections himself to the military component of the DREAM Act, said, “It seems foolish to me that you could only be granted relief by risking your life for this country. What are those doctors, lawyers, or politician scientists such as myself, going to do?”

“Better yet, is the United States ready to deport trained professionals or students who have benefited from the public education system funded by the taxpayers?” he asked.

Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, released a statement characterizing the ARMS Act as “a distortion of the DREAM Act.” He argues that excluding legalization through higher education “would provide the wrong incentives for military enlistment during a time of war.” Some undocumented youth might sign up out of desperation and not because they are interested in military service.

Noorani also contends that “by denying immigrant students the right to higher education, America is losing out on their entrepreneurship, productivity and economic contributions.”

The ARMS Act does not make sense. It appears to be a thinly veiled GOP attempt to pander to military hawks while dangling a bittersweet fruit in front of Latino voters turned off by the immigration rhetoric spewed during the Republican presidential primaries.

There is something mercenary about the idea.

The fact of the matter is a majority of Americans support the full DREAM Act. In December 2010, the bill passed the House by a resounding vote of 216-198 but failed in the Senate by five votes.

There is nothing wrong with encouraging anyone to enlist with the military. If done voluntarily it is a noble act which should be applauded and held high as an example. But there is more than one way to serve your country.

Undocumented youth, if given the chance, would educate our children, heal our sick, strengthen our economy and yes, die for the country they consider their own.

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, February 3, 2012.

Romney is Out of Touch With Voters on Immigration

GOP candidate Mitt Romney

GOP candidate Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney is cementing his hardline stance on immigration.

He has touted the endorsement of Kris Kobach, Kansas’ Secretary of State who helped author the draconian immigration laws of Alabama and Arizona. He reiterated his unrelenting position on unauthorized immigrants and DREAMers—young people who stand to benefit from the DREAM Act—at the GOP presidential debate Monday.

“I absolutely believe that those who come here illegally should not be given favoritism or a special route to becoming permanent residents or citizens that’s not given to those people who have stayed in line legally. I just think we have to follow the law, I think that’s the right course,” he said when asked by Fox News political analyst Juan Williams whether he was alienating Latino voters. Romney did say “I love legal immigration.”

“I would veto the DREAM Act, if provisions included in that act say that people who are here illegally, if they go to school here long enough, get a degree here that they can become permanent residents,” Romney added after applause from the audience.

“I think that’s a mistake. I think we have to follow the law and insist those who come here illegally, ultimately return home, apply, and get in line with everyone else.”

He ended by stressing that “to protect our legal immigration system we have got to protect our borders and stop the flood of illegal immigration and I will not do anything that opens up another wave of illegal immigration.”

It won’t help Romney win Hispanic votes. Somos Republicans, the largest Hispanic republican group which says it has 6,000 members, endorsed Newt Gingrich this week, the one candidate who supports a limited path to residency for some undocumented immigrants.

Who is Romney even trying to appeal to? According to the latest Gallup poll, only three percent of Americans say immigration is the most important problem facing the country today, reported Jon Clifton, Gallup Social and Economic Analysis deputy director at an immigration symposium in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

Clifton said that based on Gallup’s latest findings, lingering unemployment, the federal budget and continuing economic malaise are more worrisome to Americans than the perceived scourge of unauthorized immigration trumpeted by some on the far right.

Its true that almost two thirds of those polled say they are “dissatisfied” about the level of immigration to the U.S. Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of NDN, a think tank and advocacy organization, believes that immigration will be an issue in the upcoming Presidential elections because it is a hot button topic, especially in key southwestern states that will be contested in November. Clearly, Romney is placing his bets that reaching anti-immigration voters in those states is more important than the Hispanic voters who live in them.

Rosenberg, another panelist at Tuesday’s symposium, said that immigration is at a deeper level a “surrogate for growing diversification of society.” It is “about race, culture and how we are changing.”

He believes that with the election of an African American president, “the country has passed on to a new place in race,” but he contends that “we have not digested it yet as a country.”

Mitt Romney, rather than helping us process these seismic social and cultural shifts is calcifying the toxic immigration debate by insisting on an uncompromising position, a stance not taken by previous Republican presidents and candidates.

Ronald Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which legalized the status of millions of unauthorized immigrants. President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain supported comprehensive immigration reform that included border enforcement and a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

If Romney’s braggadocio proves to be real, then he will be presenting a very different Republican Party from that of Reagan or Bush. Is pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment the direction the Republican party, and this country, should be going?

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, January 19, 2011.

DREAM Act a Nightmare for Romney

January 18, 2011; Source: DRMCAPITOL GROUP Channel | In a YouTube video uploaded by the DRM Capitol Group, an advocacy group for undocumented immigrant youth, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is confronted by one of the protesters who attended the Republican presidential candidate’s Tuesday night fundraising event at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City.

The video shows Lucy, a young woman who was brought to the United States when she was ten years old, asking the presidential hopeful if he would support the DREAM Act, a federal bill which would grant current, former, and future undocumented high-school graduates and GED recipients a pathway to U.S. citizenship through college or the armed services. “I already said, across the country, I would veto the DREAM Act,” the GOP frontrunner answered. “I already said, across the country, I would veto the Dream Act” the GOP frontrunner answered.

 

This is consistent with Romney’s hardline immigration stance which he reiterated at the GOP presidential debate on Monday.

“I absolutely believe that those who come here illegally should not be given favoritism or a special route to becoming permanent residents or citizens that’s not given to those people who have stayed in line legally. I just think we have to follow the law. I think that’s the right course,” he said when asked by Fox News political analyst Juan Williams whether he was alienating Latino voters. “I would veto the DREAM Act,” Romney said, if it included provisions that stated “if they go to school here long enough [and] get a degree here they can become permanent residents.” After applause from the audience, Romney added, “I think that’s a mistake. I think we have to follow the law and insist those who come here illegally ultimately return home, apply, and get in line with everyone else.”

The DRM Capitol Group, which released a statement recounting Romney’s interaction with Lucy, is now collecting signatures on its Web site to give Romney “the proof that he needs to support the DREAM Act in order to be even considered by Latinos.”

Originally posted on Nonprofit Quarterly Nonprofit Newswire, January 18, 2012.

Ban on Foreign Money Upheld, but Immigrants Find Other Ways to Help Campaigns

Michael Dompas, an Indonesian native who has just been sent overseas by his employer, plans to return this fall to help with President Obama’s reelection campaign.

“I’m allowed to do this,” he explained. “I was so frustrated by the Supreme Court’s decision over the results of the 2000 presidential elections that I just had to do something. I wanted to give money and volunteer. So I consulted a friend who at that time worked for the Federal Election Commission.”

His friend told him that as a legal permanent resident (a Green Card holder) Dompas can give money and volunteer for political campaigns.

Since then, the Indonesian banker has canvassed for Tim Kaine during his 2001 run for lieutenant governor of Virginia, and manned the phones for presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004. In 2008, Dompas took two weeks off from work to campaign for then-Senator Obama.

The outcome of November’s elections will not only affect the lives of native-born Americans but immigrants as well. For that reason, some foreign-born individuals are doing what they can to get the candidate they believe has their best interest in mind elected.

Yet the Federal Election Commission bans foreign nationals from “contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.”

Foreign nationals include those who are not legal permanent residents or do not have Green Cards, such as students, business travelers, temporary workers, and tourists. The commission also prohibits foreign governments, political parties, corporations, associations and partnerships from intervening in U.S. elections.

In October 2010, two foreign nationals who live and work lawfully in the United States filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the constitutionality of this prohibition.

Benjamin Bluman and Asenath Steiman argued that the ban violated the First Amendment and since they are here legally, their freedom of speech was also protected.

Bluman, a Canadian and self-described “passionate” Democratic supporter, wanted to donate to the 2008 Obama campaign. Steiman, who holds dual Canadian and Israeli citizenship, wanted to contribute to Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, the party’s National Senatorial Committee, and the Club for Growth.

The District Court dismissed Bluman and Steiman’s challenge last August and the Supreme Court issued an order Monday upholding the statute against foreigners making financial contributions.

Adolfo Franco, a Republican strategist who was an advisor to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, clarifies that anyone who is in the United States, with or without a green card, can volunteer for political campaigns so long as they do not make financial contributions, make in-kind donations, or are compensated for services they render.

“Freedom of expression applies to everyone,” he said.

Franco adds that the Republican National Committee doesn’t encourage or discourage legal immigrants from volunteering.

“We do not draw a distinction between U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents,” he said. There is “no vetting process for people who walk in the door to volunteer.”

Indeed, the RNC’s website does not mention anything about who can volunteer, but does check the eligibility of anyone who donates.

Dompas shared that though he is not a naturalized citizen he gets involved “because I live here and the policies and decisions made by elected officials affect my life.”

He supports the Democratic Party because he says its core values are aligned with his own. “They care about the individual, about social welfare, which in the long run can only improve society,” he said. “They fight for social justice, which is important to me as a Catholic.”

Franco believes, however, that immigrants will likely fare better under a Republican administration. In particular, he argues that immigration reform stands a better chance with the GOP.

“Comprehensive immigration reform will become law, but only with a Republican president,” he asserted, “because most Americans would trust Republicans with immigration just as they would feel more comfortable with Democratic leadership on issues such as Social Security and Medicare. A lot of Americans think the Democratic Party is soft on the border security and illegal immigration issue, and that Democrats are not really serious about tackling the illegal issue or adequate border security.”

Dompas, on the other hand, believes that immigrants will be better off with a Democrat in the White House and said he will do everything he can to help Mr. Obama keep his job.

Dompas is justified in wanting to get involved in a campaign, as are Bluman and Steiman, as are all people living in the U.S.—citizens and non-ctizens alike—because we are all affected by the policy decisions and rhetoric of our elected officials.

But the prohibition on foreign nationals influencing, and in particular, financially contributing, to U.S. elections is sound. We want people who are truly invested in the welfare of the United States, and who identify as Americans, determining its future through the electoral process.

Arguably, there are foreign nationals who want nothing more than to be U.S. citizens or at least have a green card but currently have no visible path to citizenship. These are the unauthorized immigrants who have planted their roots with American children, jobs, and homes in communities across the country; people who have lived here for decades and know no other home, and who want to contribute fully to this country.

The question then for immigrants and their advocates is which party will give them the best chance to legalize their status and earn a voice, and a vote, in our democracy.

Originally posted on WNYC It’s A Free Country and Feet in 2 Worlds, January 14, 2012.

UPDATED: Block on Payroll Tax Cut Means GOP Hands Latino Vote to Dems. (Again.)

Since the commentary below was posted on Feet in 2 Worlds and WNYC’s It’s A Free Country, House GOP leaders have caved in to President Obama, Democratic leaders and Republican party leaders. House Republicans have agreed to a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. Congress convenes today expecting to pass the measure.

 

paycheck

A paycheck for zero dollars. (Photo: Jima/flickr)

Stalled in Congress is a bill which extends the payroll tax cut for two months, thanks to the intransigence of a handful of House GOP freshmen.  If the measure is not passed by the end of the year, 160 million of us will see our paychecks cut by an average of $40. Those among us who access Medicare and unemployment benefits will also suffer greatly.

Among the millions who will have less money to survive on are Latinos and other immigrants who are here legally or are naturalized citizens.  Many will be voting come November and rest assured, they will have immigration and bread and butter issues on their minds.

Latinos are the poorest according to the Census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure. Over six million Latino children, more than any other group, are living in poverty.  The net worth of Latino families shrank the most during the Great Recession. The payroll tax cut, which may seem paltry to wealthy lawmakers, makes a huge difference to struggling families.

Rational conservatives are lambasting their mulish comrades. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board warnsthat if this impasse is not breached, Republicans might as well gird themselves for a second Obama term. Even some GOP senators who fear losing their seats next November have spoken out against their counterparts in the lower chamber.

If they’d like a chance of winning any Latino votes in 2012, House Republicans should heed these warnings.

More than 6.6 million Latinos – about seven percent of all voters – voted in last year’s midterm elections. Many more are expected to turn out for next year’s presidential and general elections. Who do you think they will vote for?

Romney on Immigration: Hardliner, Not Flip-Flopper

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaking in 2010. (Photo: World Affairs Council Philadelphia/flickr)

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has been accused of flip-flopping on issues, chief among them immigration. But has his stance on immigration really shifted that much?

Finger-pointers wonder how Romney has the chutzpah to accuse Gingrich of being soft on immigration, claiming the former Speaker was opening “a new doorway to amnesty,” when he once shared Gingrich’s position that long-time residents without papers should be granted a path to citizenship.

In 2005, then Massachusetts Governor Romney told the Boston Globe that it was not “practical or economic for the country’’ to deport all undocumented immigrants. “These people contribute in many cases to our economy and to our society,’’ he said.

A year later, Romney told Bloomberg News that immigrants who are in the country unlawfully “are not going to be rounded up and box-carried out.”

He added that “we should have those individuals who are here illegally begin a process either of returning to their homes — particularly those that are unable to be here without government support or those who are involved in crime –or beginning a process of registering for a citizenship, applying for citizenship and then carrying out the process necessary to get there.”

But Romney was far from being an advocate for immigrants. Westy Egmont, a Boston College professor who served as Co-Chair of Governor Romney’s Advisory Committee on Immigrants and Refugees, recalls his interaction with Romney during this period.

“He started as a person without much opinion or a position on immigration,” Egmont said. “He didn’t want to meet with the advisory committee on immigrants and refugees which was odd since we were his appointees, there to serve him at his behest.”

Eva Millona, Executive Director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition who served as Co-Chair with Egmont shares the impression.

“He was disengaged as a governor, not just only on immigration but on other issues as well,” Millona said. “He wasn’t very much present in the state.

Romney’s detachment did not mean that he had a soft spot for unauthorized immigrants.

Egmont remembers that Romney “was increasingly moving to the right” and “was increasingly looking for ways to demonstrate a hardline stance towards undocumented immigrants and as he left office, he signed up Massachusetts to the 287g program.”

Millona believes that Romney, though disengaged, has always been a hardliner on immigration issues even while Governor of Massachusetts. “He has been consistent and not friendly to immigration policy and to immigrants and refugees,” she said.

Indeed, while governor, Romney vetoed legislation that would have afforded in-state tuition for undocumented students; opposed driver’s licenses for unauthorized immigrants; requested a federal investigation of companies that allegedly hired workers without documents; and fought against bilingual education in public schools.

Although Romney may have once thought it impractical to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants, he has consistently said that they should fall back in line behind those who play by the rules. Lanhee Chen, Romney’s policy director, said that he “absolutely opposes” allowing unauthorized immigrants “to cut in line.”

“Those people who had come here illegally and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship,” Romney said during a 2007 “Meet the Press” interview, “but they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally.”

It’s less of a flip-flop, then, rather than soft lines becoming hard. Or, one could argue that it’s simply a lack of clarity on Romney’s part.  Should all immigrants without papers be sent back en masse to their native countries or only certain individuals?

Millona argued that Romney “lacks understanding of U.S. immigration policy, that it’s an outdated policy, that it needs to be repaired.” She thinks that the presidential hopeful does not know “what needs to be reformed in terms of national immigration policy and national integration policy.”

Perhaps so. But at this stage of the game, Romney is more intent on proving to the base that he is the most conservative when it comes to immigration than showing his understanding of the issue.

Originally posted on WNYC It’s A Free Country and Feet in 2 Worlds, December 20, 2011.

Gingrich’s Immigration Stance: Heart or Calculated Gambit?

gingrich_gage_skidmore

Newt Gingrich speaking at CPAC 2011. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr)

Newt Gingrich’s comments on immigration during Tuesday’s CNN debate sparked a maelstrom. He suggested that some immigrant families, including those with members who are in the country without papers, should not be broken up.

“I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families which have been here a quarter-century,” he reasoned.

He qualified, however, that he was only referring to immigrants who have been in the country for decades, not those who recently came and are in the country illegally.

“If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.”

Saying that he was prepared to take the heat for his words, Gingrich continued. “Let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship, but finding a way to give them legality so as not to separate them from their families.”

Is the former House Speaker showing Rick Perry that he has a heart? Or is it a calculated risk to differentiate himself from the pack and position himself as the smart moderate who can win a general election?

My bet’s on the latter. After all, his support for immigrants who have been here for a long time and have played by the rules is aligned with the sentiments of most Americans. A majority do think immigration is a good thing and support a path to citizenship for most unauthorized immigrants.

Gingrich long ago acknowledged the rising importance of the Latino vote in the U.S. In 2009 he launched a bilingual conservative news website for Latinos called “The Americano.”

But his stance on other immigration issues does not deviate much from other Republican candidates. He is big on national security and wants a fence built around the borders, employers to check the immigration status of all hires, and everyone to speak American English. I highly doubt that he would support lesbian and gay immigrant families.

So as Mitt Romney flip-flops on immigration further to the right and Rick Perry tries his darnedest to prove that he is indeed tough on unauthorized immigrants, Gingrich is now portraying himself as the one with the solutions and the heart.

And unlike Romney, he appeals more to the social conservative base. He is a repentant and “real” Christian.

Originally posted on WNYC It’s A Free Country, November 23, 2011. Also posted on Feet in 2 Worlds.

Both Parties Propose Immigration Bills But Pass None

Immigration activists marched on the Capitol last October - Photo: Jelena Kopanka/Fi2W

Immigration activists in front of the Capitol. (Photo: Jelena Kopanka/Fi2W)

Democrats are thinking of introducing an immigration bill as early as December, CNN reported Monday. It is not clear what it would cover—possibly the DREAM Act—but apparently Congressional Democrats would like it to differentiate themselves from Republicans in order to secure Latino votes in 2012.

GOP lawmakers tend to focus on border security and enforcement. The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, for instance, passed the House Natural Resources Committee earlier this month and a vote in the Republican-controlled house is expected soon. The law would allow the U.S. Border Patrol to ignore environmental laws on federal lands including Glacier National Park and the Great Lakes.

The Scott Gardner Act is another Republican-sponsored bill and it seeks to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by directing the U.S. Attorney General to take into federal custody any unauthorized immigrant arrested for a DWI or similar infraction by state and local law enforcement officials. The Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act likewise seeks to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by penalizing states and other jurisdictions that block E-Verify and Secure Communities.

While trying to crack down on undocumented immigrants, Republican House members have simultaneously presented bills recently meant to attract foreign investors and high-skilled professionals. Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced the Fairness of High-Skilled Immigrants Act which would eliminate country quotas for employment-based green cards. Rep. Raul Labrador proposed the American Innovation and Education Act of 2011 which would speed up green card applications for foreign-born grad students who have high-tech jobs waiting for them. These bills signify an acknowledgment in the GOP that immigration policy for legal immigrants needs to be reformed.

If the Democrats introduce anything, it will most likely be a bill that acquiesces to the GOP imperative for border security and enforcement while re-introducing DREAM Act provisions. Like all other federal immigration legislation, it will go nowhere. Fact is, nothing major will pass anytime soon. Not before the upcoming elections or during the 113th Congress, regardless of who takes control of the House of Representatives, Senate, and the White House.

Immigration laws that myopically emphasize border security and enforcement will not win the hearts of Latinos, even if this rapidly growing group of voters agrees with other Republican concepts. These proposals may pander to the conservative nativist base and pretend to address our nation’s economic woes, but at the end of the day, these measures skirt around the obvious need for comprehensive immigration reform, which many Latinos consider priority numero uno.

It is helpful to know where parties and politicians stand on immigration so we can hold them accountable. Party allegiance is not set in stone, a concept many of us are starting to embrace.

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, October 27, 2011.