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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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