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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora