News / USA

Leaked White House Proposal Complicates Immigration Reform Effort

Michael Bowman
Harsh words in Washington are revealing the tough political challenge when it comes to reforming America’s immigration system. A leaked Obama administration draft bill may have disrupted delicate, closed-door negotiations between Democratic and Republican lawmakers attempting to craft comprehensive bipartisan legislation.

What will become of more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States?  An administration proposal leaked to a U.S. newspaper would establish a path to permanent legal residency - a gateway to eventual citizenship.

But Republican lawmakers are angry over the disclosure, accusing President Obama of preempting bipartisan efforts.

“By giving advantage to those who cut in front of the line for immigrants who come here legally, not dealing with border security adequately, that tells me he is looking for partisan advantage,” said Congressman Paul Ryan.

“Does the president want a result?  Or does he want another cudgel [weapon] to beat up Republicans?,” said Senator John McCain

In fact, Obama had already put Capitol Hill on notice.

“If Congress cannot come up with a plan in a timely fashion, I will send up mine,” Obama said.

As lawmakers’ tempers flared, White House officials scrambled to respond.

“I hope that Republicans and Democrats up there do not get involved in some kind of typical Washington back-and-forth sideshow here and rather just roll up their sleeves and get to work,” said the president’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough.

Reform proponents say America has a rare opportunity to act. “For the first time ever, there is more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it,” said  Democratic Senator Charles Schumer.

But opponents fear reform efforts will encourage more illegal immigration.  Jim Gilchrist founded a citizens’ group that patrols America’s border with Mexico.

"If we are going to grant amnesty to 15- to 30-million people who are here illegally now, we are going to be granting amnesty to 300 million who will follow them over the next several decades," he said.

Yet analysts see an emerging consensus in Washington on immigration reform.  

“There is agreement on the need for more border security.  There is agreement on the need for mandatory employment verification.  There is agreement on doing something with unauthorized immigrants and allowing them some level of legal status,” said Michelle Mittelstadt of the Migration Policy Institute.

But friction over the White House draft bill shows that change is far from assured.

“This [initiative] could blow up [fall apart] at any moment.  I think this controversy over the leaked White House proposal and the very strong reaction from Republicans is just a sign of how high the stakes are and the fact that this will remain a very complicated and contentious process,” Mittelstadt said.

Obama has advocated immigration reform since taking office.  Republicans have warmed to the initiative since last year’s presidential contest, which Mr. Obama won with strong support from Hispanic and Asian voters.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jess from: USA
February 19, 2013 10:51 PM
“Does the president want a result? Or does he want another cudgel [weapon] to beat up Republicans?,” said Senator John McCain

The above quote is so irritating. The author who used this direct quote in a news article felt the need to define a word for my benefit. The uncorrected spelling and grammar errors you think I don't notice in many online articles are one thing, but deciding that a word is outside my scope of vocabulary is extra irritating. Don't you know I have the Internet? Or, shockingly, access to a dictionary? I can look it up if I don't get it and then I'll have an accurate definition.

by: Kurt Thialfad from: San Rafael
February 19, 2013 1:55 AM
If these million receive citizenship, would they give up their previous citizenship? The oath of allegiance requires you to, but many committ perjury. Will these new citizens be unprosecuted? Remember they already have a criminal background.

by: Cinthya
February 19, 2013 12:00 AM
Drop the i-word! When you use "illegal" to describe people you are using a slur and it dehumanizes them.

by: Danny Williams from: San Diego
February 18, 2013 10:21 PM
Illegal aliens are NOT important for America. Americans are important. Send them home..all of them. We can easily rid our country of 11,000,000 illegal aliens...Mexico did.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs