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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More