Tag Archives: immigration reform

Immigration reform gets big boost

The overwhelming approval this week of the bipartisan budget deal signals a big win for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

The question now becomes whether he is feeling his Wheaties enough to push through some other legislation that needs to be enacted — such as immigration reform.


The 332-94 House vote approving a budget deal that forestalls a government shutdown has been described as Boehner’s win over the tea party wing of his Republican Party. The tea party clowns also have been yammering against any effort to reform the nation’s immigration laws.

Boehner, until right about now, has been listening to the tea party crowd and saying things like the House won’t act on immigration this year, or maybe even next year. The budget victory now sends other signals that Boehner — who many believe wants to do an immigration deal — might be willing to step on a few more tea party toes.

Go for it, Mr. Speaker.

The nation needs desperately to give the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants living here a chance to come out of the shadows. Do they deserve a complete amnesty? No. They do deserve a chance to become citizens if that’s their desire. President Obama wants to enable those who were brought here as young children a chance to wipe the slate clean, given that they’ve grown up as Americans and know nothing other than life in this country.

The president has an unlikely ally in that effort in the form of GOP Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who also happens to be a tea party darling and who might run for president himself in 2016. Perry, though, governs a state with a large illegal immigrant population and he understands the complexities of the issue and knows how hard it is to round ’em all up and send ’em back the country of their birth.

So, I’m hoping Boehner can decide that the tea party wing of his party isn’t quite so fearsome and he can move immigration reform through the House of Representatives. If nothing else, he can help head off the designation that this Congress has earned for being so unproductive.

No one wants the “do-nothing” label hung around their neck, correct Mr. Speaker?

Let us stumble now to next big issue

Immigration reform.

Does anyone remember that immigration reform used to be the most pressing issue facing Congress? Then the Syria crisis erupted. Then came the battle over funding the government and the debt crisis. Each set of crises eclipsed the earlier set.

OK, now we have settled — for the moment — the government shutdown and the debt ceiling matters and the Syria crisis appears to be settling at least temporarily, we can look back toward immigration reform as something that needs to be decided.

The U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform package by a substantial bipartisan margin. It then got stalled in the House of Representatives, which — given that Republicans control the place — isn’t a big surprise any longer. The GOP remains dedicated to the proposition that its mission is to deny Democrats any legislative victory. So the fight has continued.

Immigration reform concerns a lessening of the pressure to deport those who are here illegally. About 11 million — give or take a few thousand — residents are here without permission. Many of them have led constructive and productive lives here. It is true that many have not. I’m waiting for a study that reveals the comparative percentages of illegal residents and U.S. citizens who have run afoul of the law.

The Senate-passed immigration bill creates a “pathway to citizenship” for those who are here illegally. It gives them a chance to become citizens if they choose to do so. Those who don’t then can seek legal resident status.

Foes of this bill call it “amnesty” and say it forgives those who have broken U.S. laws. The more ardent foes of immigration reform want to round them up and send them back to their native lands. Remember when eventual 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney vowed to make life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they would “self-deport” themselves back to their homeland?

Well, the budget battles are done. President Obama says immigration reform needs to return to the front burner. The House needs to finish the job begun in the Senate.

Get that one done, ladies and gentlemen, before returning to the budget squabbles that are sure to re-erupt right after the first of the year.

Immigration becoming signature Texas issue?

I am beginning to sense a centerpiece issue emerging in the race for Texas lieutenant governor.

The issue is immigration and it may reveal which of the four major Republican candidates for the state’s No. 2 elected office will become the most effective demagogue on it.


Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is one of the Big Four. He served in the state Senate, representing an East Texas district. He has become entangled in a vote he reportedly cast in 2001 to allow immigrants to use foreign passports and birth certificates as valid identification to obtain a Texas driver’s license.

Staples says he doesn’t remember casting such a vote. Really, commissioner? If you did, then it’s on the record in some form.

He now says such allowances are a “grave mistake” and he opposes them.

The other three GOP big dogs — state Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — also are running as quickly as they can from another issue: allowing those who came into Texas as children of those who entered the state illegally in-state tuition rates to attend public colleges and universities.

Patrick ripped that can of worms wide open when he said he is the “only candidate” to oppose such a thing. The other three pounced on him for that declaration; Patterson called him a “liar.” Dewhurst said he’s never supported in-state tuition for undocumented residents.

I happen to think these men are acting like disgusting demagogues on this issue. I believe granting such a waiver is humane and compassionate. So does Gov. Rick Perry, whose support for the waiver got him in trouble as he campaigned briefly for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Immigration reform well might determine just how strong the tea party influence is within the Texas Republican Party. Dewhurst learned the hard way when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012 when he got “Cruzed” by the guy who beat him in the primary, Sen. Ted Cruz. Dewhurst, who I once thought was a serious and studious politician, is now turning hard right on immigration to avoid getting outflanked yet again.

Perhaps another signature issue will emerge. For now, I’m thinking it’s going to be immigration.

It’s going to get ugly.

Help me understand this budget fight

A lot of things go over my head. I’ll admit to being a bit slow on the uptake at times.

Take the budget battle that’s building into a donnybrook — yet again — on Capitol Hill. I’m puzzled over why the Republican congressional leadership has allowed the tea party wing take it over and threaten to hijack the government because it dislikes a duly enacted law that’s been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Affordable Care Act has become a bargaining chip in the budget battle. The right-wing crazies in Congress say they’ll approve a continuing resolution on the budget only if it defunds the ACA, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. If they don’t get the resolution approved in about 10 days, the government shuts down.

Think about this for a moment. We’re still at war in Afghanistan; Social Security checks will need to go out to those who need them; so will veterans disability payments; roads are crumbling; Colorado residents are digging out from horrific weather events in their state … and there might be more weather-related misery occurring in Texas as storm clouds migrate north from Mexico.

You get the picture, yes?

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, a so-called “establishment Republican” who’s been whipsawed by the tea party cabal within his caucus, says the GOP-led House has “no interest” in shutting down the government. Who’s he kidding?

Everyone who hates “Obamacare” has forgotten that Congress passed the law, the president signed it, it survived a Supreme Court challenge when the high court ruled that the law indeed is constitutional. It has been settled.

What’s more, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t even been implemented fully — and still congressional Republicans have declared it a “failed policy.” Aren’t there independent studies out there showing that premiums have increased at a slower rate than predicted and aren’t there 30 million or so Americans who are about to have health insurance?

The moronic push to defund the health care law would deny those folks insurance. That’s a good thing for the country?

While our so-called “leaders” wage budget war, a lot of other pressing needs are being ignored. Does anyone remember immigration reform?

I don’t understand a lot of things. This battle is really pushing me to the limit.

Bush kin on right immigration track

The Bush family name be politically toxic in much of the nation, but it remains fairly golden in Texas.

The reasons for that long-lasting good will might be difficult to explain. I’ll add that on immigration reform, the Bush family is ahead of the curve and is on the right side of history.


As the San Antonio Express-News blog notes, the Bushes can mark their return to public life with their strong stance on reforming the nation’s broken immigration system.

George P. Bush, the son of the former Florida governor, Jeb, is running as a Republican for Texas land commissioner — an office that doesn’t have much to say directly about immigration issues. But his father and his mother — Columba, a native of central Mexico — both have been strongly encouraging serious immigration reform that includes a “path to citizenship” for those who are here illegally. And as someone with Latino blood in his veins, George P. is seen as a rising Latino star within the Republican Party.

Uncle George W., the 43rd president of the United States, is another one who speaks wisely about immigration issues. The Express-News blog notes that former President Bush’s silence since leaving office in 2009 is beginning to break with his views on the subject. He was strong on immigration while serving as Texas governor and as president.

To his great credit, Rick Perry — who succeeded Bush as governor — has been equally outspoken on the issue, much to the dismay of his conservative allies within the GOP, some of whom argue stupidly that we should just round up all them “illegals” and send ’em back to where they came from. Perry, meanwhile, has supported legislation granting undocumented immigrants who’ve grown up in Texas “in-state tuition” incentives to enroll in our state’s public colleges and universities.

It encourages me to know that not all Republicans have gone around the bend on some of critical issues. I just hope they’ll listen to the wisdom — at least on the matter of immigration — to the Bush family of Texas.

Hey y’all, the deficit is shrinking

I consider myself a deficit hawk. I dislike as much as anyone the idea that the government spends more money than it receives.

It is with that stipulation that I hail news that the federal budget deficit is shrinking. Dramatically, I should add.


The Congressional Budget Office — which is about as nonpartisan and unbiased as it gets — pegs the 2013 federal deficit to be at $670 billion. That’s still a lot of money to be in the hole. It’s also about half of what the annual deficit totaled when President Obama took office in January 2009.

The cause for the shrinkage? More revenue created by more taxes being paid by more Americans getting back to work.

Interesting, don’t you think?

Yet the critics keeping yammering about the president’s “failed economic policies.”

Another report out this week shows that immigration reform would help grow the economy significantly over the next two decades, thus putting downward pressure on the deficit. How does that happen? By allowing undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and work in the open while they set out on that vaunted “path to citizenship.”

Another “failure”? I think not.

Nugent embodies right-wing lunacy

Ted Nugent doesn’t speak for most reasonable Americans. He speaks for himself and the crazed lunatics among us who share his racist, homophobic, xenophobic world view.

He sits on the National Rifle Association board. A group called “Stop Gun Violence,” an acknowledged foe of the NRA, wonders why the pro-gun group doesn’t boot Nugent off its board.


Why, indeed, doesn’t the NRA act?

The Motor City Madman has been on a roll of late, as the link attached to this blog post will attest. No need to repeat his rants. Suffice to say he is out of control.

There he is, though, promoting the NRA agenda — which when it comes to background checks for gun buyers — doesn’t even agree with rank-and-file NRA members, who support background checks.

He makes news when he twists off the way he does because he once was a reasonably popular rock musician. He now has become caricature of himself and the views he espouses.


GOP troubles with Hispanics keep growing

Two words — one syllable each — can describe just why the Republican Party cannot make inroads with the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group.

Steve King.

The Iowa GOP congressman has planted both feet inside his very large mouth and has drawn criticism from none other than the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.


King said recently that for every young illegal immigrant living the United States, 100 more of them are drug mules who pack illegal drugs across the border. Then he said they may be small in stature but they “have calves the size of cantaloupes.”

Boehner, also a Republican, has called King’s remarks “hateful” and mean. Do you think, Mr. Speaker?

King is among a minority of House Republicans who oppose immigration reform. He prefers to round all them illegals up and ship ’em back to wherever they came from. King fervently opposes the Dream Act pushed by President Obama, which would in effect grant amnesty to young U.S. residents who were brought here illegally as children but who have made this country their home.

As for Boehner, he is invoking a House rule that says a measure should be voted on only when a majority of the party in power — that means Republicans — favor it. The House is deciding what to do with the immigration reform bill approved by the Senate in a sweeping bipartisan vote in June. Most House Democrats favor it as does a significant number of Republicans. It has the support of the full House, but it won’t come to a vote unless most GOP members sign on.

Steve King’s big mouth and utter callousness ought to persuade Boehner that the majority-of-a-majority rule — named after former Speaker Dennis Hastert — needs some serious rethinking.


GOP future growth requires immigration reform

I disagree more with Sen. John McCain than I agree with him.

But he’s right to declare that the Republican Party is doomed if the House of Representatives kills immigration reform.


McCain, R-Ariz., represents a border state and has a keen knowledge of the need to reform our immigration system. He voted to approve the Senate bill that passed 68-32 in a rare show of bipartisanship earlier this year. It’s gone to the House of Reps, where Speaker John Boehner has said it will need a majority of Republican House members to support it before it even goes to a vote of the full chamber.

Frankly, I don’t really give a damn about the Republican Party’s future as it relates to immigration reform. I do care that we fix the system that has put 11 million or so U.S. residents in hiding. The Senate bill would give those folks a “path to citizenship”; it also strengthens border security by completing construction of a hundreds-mile-long fence and hiring of many more border patrol agents.

It contains elements that conservatives and liberals both like.

Whether it helps the Republicans’ future is of little interest to me. The GOP has taken it on the chin from Latino voters who keep voting Democratic because, frankly, Republican lawmakers keep saying strange things — such as calling for the deportation of those 11 million residents who are here illegally.

Never mind all of those who have made positive contributions to our society, or those whose children have become de facto Americans by virtue of growing up in the only country they’ve ever known as “home.”

Republicans need to listen to McCain. This GOP elder statesman knows a good bit about the compelling need to reform the immigration system.