News / USA

Immigration Reform Finds New Enthusiasm in US Congress

Cindy Saine
— After an election in which Hispanic voters overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama and Democratic candidates, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are presenting new proposals on reforming U.S. immigration laws.  
 
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a group of Democratic, Hispanic lawmakers from the Senate and House of Representatives, held a news conference Wednesday to lay out their fundamental principles for comprehensive immigration reform. 
 
Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said his caucus has been working since 2004 to try to get Congress to reform the nation's immigration laws, but he said Republicans had "demonized" immigrants instead of tackling reform.
 
"Because of congressional inaction, good people, good people who are only asking for the chance to work hard and help their communities and keep their families together, have been forced to stay in the shadows and been forced to go around our legal system because they could find no way through it," he said. 
 
The principles laid out by congressional Democrats would require undocumented immigrants to come forward and register with the government and pass an English language test and pay taxes before they would be able to join the process to become U.S. citizens. 
 
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said the United States would benefit from bringing the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in this country out of the shadows.
 
"Reform is in our economic interest as well our national security.  I cannot know who is here to pursue the 'American Dream' versus who is here to do it harm unless I get millions of people out of the shadows into the light and come forth and register with the government," he said. 
 
On Tuesday, three Republican senators introduced their own immigration bill, known as the "Achieve Act," which would grant a pathway to permanent residency - but not citizenship - to some undocumented young immigrants who serve in the military or attend college in the United States.  
 
Outgoing Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas said her party's proposal would not give special preference to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally over those seeking to come to the country legally.
 
"They [illegal immigrants] will not get in the front of the line, they will get in the back of the line.  They are not kept from getting that citizenship track, nor are they given a preference in that citizenship track," she said. 
 
Senator Hutchinson and outgoing Republican Arizona Senator Jon Kyl said they believe it is better to tackle the tough problem of immigration one step at a time, instead of trying to enact a massive reform of the system.
 
Congressional Democrats rejected the Republican proposal, saying it would not go far enough to help young immigrants to achieve their dreams.  But Gutierrez said it is a step forward for Republicans.
 
"It is too little too late.  But it does mark something different.  During the election and during the campaign, what they said was self-deportation," he said. 
 
When asked about the millions of undocumented workers already living in the United States during the campaign, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had suggested self-deportation as an option.
 
A number of Republican leaders say their party needs to reform its own thinking about immigration in order to be more competitive in future elections.  Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida says it is "really hard to get people to listen to you on economic growth, on tax rates, on health care, if they think you want to deport their grandmother."
 
Republican House Speaker John Boehner says he is sure that he can reach a deal with the White House next year on comprehensive immigration reform. 

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid