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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.