News / USA

Prospects Improve for US Immigration Reform

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights member Adelina Nicholls, of Mexico, joins members of a cross-country group of undocumented immigrants participating in a "No Papers No Fear" event at Fiesta Mall in Atlanta, August 25, 2012.
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights member Adelina Nicholls, of Mexico, joins members of a cross-country group of undocumented immigrants participating in a "No Papers No Fear" event at Fiesta Mall in Atlanta, August 25, 2012.
Michael Bowman
— If elections are meant as an articulation of national will, then last week’s vote appears to have sent a message on the need for immigration reform - specifically what should be done about the estimated 12 million foreign nationals residing in the United States who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas.

No, Americans did not vote directly on immigration reform, and the topic was barely mentioned on the campaign trail by President Barack Obama or his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. But the Republican Party clearly suffered at the ballot box as a result of its resistance to immigration reform.

Republican stance

During the presidential primaries, several Republican contenders took a hard line on the matter, blasting any measure that would provide a path to legal status as an amnesty for law breakers. Romney advocated a strategy of making life in America so difficult for illegals that they would opt to leave the country, or "self-deport."

Last Tuesday, Hispanic-Americans, who make up an increasingly powerful voting bloc, got their say in the matter. More than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for President Obama, a strong rebuke to Republicans. In the week since, many Republicans have gone out of their way to say that the party must change and embrace immigration reform if it is to remain competitive at the ballot box.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 2011 file photo.Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 2011 file photo.
x
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 2011 file photo.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 2011 file photo.
"The immigration debate… has built a wall between the Republican Party and the Hispanic community," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation  program. Graham noted that Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and said that Republican rhetoric on immigration hurts the party in election cycle after election cycle. "It is one thing to shoot yourself in the foot [on immigration]," Graham said. "Just don’t reload the gun."

Graham pledged to push for immigration reform that was once championed by President George W. Bush. At the time, Bush got more support from Democratic lawmakers than members of his own Republican Party. Graham advocated reforms that mirror what President Obama has called for: enhanced border security and employee citizenship verification combined with a guest worker program and a path to legal status for undocumented workers. The path would include a fine for having broken U.S. laws and a requirement to learn English.

"Fix it in a way that we do not have a third wave of illegal immigration 20 years from now. That is what Americans want," Graham said. "They want more legal immigration and they want to fix illegal immigration once and for all."

Helping young illegals

Barack Obama pledged to fight for comprehensive immigration reform during his 2008 campaign. As president, he has issued policy directives to federal agencies on matters relating to immigration, but has yet to deliver on an overhaul of U.S. laws. Even partial measures, like allowing undocumented children of immigrants to gain legal status - known as the Dream Act - have failed in Congress. Deportations have risen under Obama and illegal border-crossings have fallen, likely the result of a weak U.S. economy.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 5, 2012.Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 5, 2012.
x
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 5, 2012.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 5, 2012.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer says he is now more hopeful about reaching a deal with Republicans on immigration reform.  "I think we have a darn good chance…  to get something done," Schumer said on NBC’s Meet the Press  program.

To be sure, not every Republican has expressed a new willingness to engage on the issue of immigration.

Description: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 9, 2012.Description: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 9, 2012.
x
Description: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 9, 2012.
Description: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 9, 2012.
While House Speaker John Boehner now says that reform is "long overdue," other lawmakers remain steadfastly opposed to any measure that would, in their view, reward undocumented immigrants for having broken the law.

On his congressional website, Republican Congressman Steve King writes that "we only encourage illegal immigration by discussing amnesty for illegal immigrants living in the United States today. I adamantly oppose amnesty, regardless of the guise under which it is presented."

You May Like

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Nigerian Islamic School Tries to Combat Boko Haram

Kaduna school headmaster teaches his students that what militants are doing is are doing is 'a total misunderstanding of the Islamic religion' More

University Trains Students to Advocate for Deaf People Worldwide

Program prepares graduates to advocate internationally for access to education, jobs for people with disabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid