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

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs