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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora