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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid