News / USA

Gaps Widen Between US House, Senate on Immigration

People shout out against the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act in the hall outside the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 18, 2013.
People shout out against the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act in the hall outside the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 18, 2013.
Reuters
Work intensified on Tuesday to revamp the U.S. immigration system, but gaps widened between the Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House of Representatives over what proposed changes should become law.
 
The net effect was to raise further doubts about the prospects for both houses approving a comprehensive measure that would grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants.
 
House Speaker John Boehner made a surprise announcement in telling reporters that he would only permit for consideration immigration bills backed by most of the 234 Republicans in the 435-member chamber.
 
“I don't see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn't have a majority support of Republicans,” Boehner said after a closed-door meeting with his caucus.
 
It is widely believed that most House Republicans oppose a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, a key  feature of sweeping legislation now moving through the Senate.
 
Previously, Boehner had only said that he would await Senate passage of a bill before deciding what course the House would take on an issue at the top of President Barack Obama's legislative agenda this year.
 
Many Democrats had hoped Boehner would advance a bill like the Senate's - one containing the pathway to citizenship - and that it could pass the House with the combined backing of most of the 201 House Democrats and some Republicans.
 
But the House Judiciary Committee worked on Tuesday not on  pathways for the undocumented but on a Republican proposal to clamp down on them.
 
It would do so by allowing state and local law enforcement officers to get involved in immigration enforcement, an activity that is now conducted by federal agents. It would also let states and localities enact and enforce their own immigration laws, as long as they were consistent with federal laws.
 
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., gestures as he speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 18, 2013, during the committee's hearing to discuss the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act.House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., gestures as he speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 18, 2013, during the committee's hearing to discuss the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act.
x
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., gestures as he speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 18, 2013, during the committee's hearing to discuss the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., gestures as he speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 18, 2013, during the committee's hearing to discuss the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act.
“We can't just be fixated on securing the [Southwestern] border,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said at the start of the panel's work session on the bill. He added that the Republican-backed bill would strengthen federal enforcement of immigration laws while ensuring “that where the federal government fails to act, states can pick up the slack.”
 
Representative John Conyers, the senior Democrat on the committee, called the bill “extreme and heinous.” He likened it to an Arizona state law he said had resulted in “widespread racial profiling and unconstitutional arrests.”
 
Some Democrats said they were hopeful Boehner would back off his new requirement that any immigration bill be backed by a majority of House Republicans, just as he did in the past year on such issues as tax hikes on the wealthy, the U.S. debt limit, disaster relief and renewal of a landmark bill to curb domestic violence against women.
 
“Boehner is trying to maximize his leverage so he can get a bill that is as conservative as possible,” one Democratic aide said.
 
Split on Border Security
 
In the Senate, the immigration bill sponsored by a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” was moving more slowly than had been expected.
 
A split over how to strengthen border security has slowed action on the measure, which would legalize the 11 million illegal immigrants and eventually allow them to apply for citizenship.
 
The bill also would tighten security along the border with Mexico, but not sufficiently, so far, for many Senate Republicans.
 
Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota said he and some fellow Republicans were making progress on a compromise amendment that could be unveiled as early as Wednesday to deal with border security.
 
Boehner echoed complaints by many Republicans about the Senate bill, saying he believed the measure “is weak on border security.”
 
Once the Senate passes its bipartisan bill, there will be pressure on Boehner to bring it or a similar measure up for a vote in his chamber, regardless if most House Republicans oppose it.
 
“The political winds will be much different after the Senate passes its bill,” the Democratic aide said, especially if there is an overwhelming bipartisan tally.
 
The Republican Party urged its members to embrace comprehensive immigration reform after last year's election, which saw 71 percent of Hispanics, members of the fast-growing voting bloc, support Obama's re-election.
 
A Republican strategist predicted that Boehner would end up “saving Republicans from themselves” by eventually permitting a vote on the Senate bill in the House.
 
The strategist said the move could help rescue the Republican Party, but end up costing Boehner his speakership.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs