April 16, 2014
Statement by the President
One year ago, the Senate introduced comprehensive bipartisan legislation to fix our broken immigration system. Both sides worked together to pass that bill with a strong bipartisan vote. The Senate’s commonsense agreement would grow the economy by $1.4 trillion and shrink the deficit by nearly $850 billion over the next two decades, while providing a tough but fair pathway to earned citizenship to bring 11 million undocumented individuals out of the shadows, modernizing our legal immigration system, continuing to strengthen border security, and holding employers accountable. Simply put, it would boost our economy, strengthen our security, and live up to our most closely-held values as a society.
Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform. Instead of advancing commonsense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from “Dreamers”. The majority of Americans are ahead of House Republicans on this crucial issue and there is broad support for reform, including among Democrats and Republicans, labor and business, and faith and law enforcement leaders. We have a chance to strengthen our country while upholding our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote.
UPDATE: Republican leaders to block US immigration measure
5/16/14 Associated Press By ERICA WERNER and DONNA CASSATA
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leaders intervened Friday to prevent a vote on U.S. immigration legislation, dealing a severe blow to election-year efforts to overhaul the widely denigrated system.
The move came after a Republican congressman announced plans to try to force a vote next week, over strong conservative opposition, on his measure creating a path to citizenship for immigrants who live here illegally yet serve in the military.
In response, Doug Heye, spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said: “No proposed ENLIST amendments to NDAA will be made in order.”
Heye said no stand-alone vote on the measure would be permitted, either.
It was the latest setback for President Barack Obama’s efforts to move comprehensive immigration legislation through Congress to boost border security, remake legal worker programs and offer legal status to the estimated 11.5 million people now living here illegally. The Senate passed an immigration bill last year, but it’s been stalled in the Republican-led House.
Friday’s developments seemed to all but rule out anything happening on the issue this year in the House, if even Denham’s limited measure could not advance. Despite a wide coalition of business, labor, religious groups, farmers and others pushing for an immigration overhaul, many individual Republican House members who represent largely white districts have been unmoved.
Cantor, House Speaker John Boehner and other House Republican leaders have insisted they want to advance immigration legislation, though they’ve rejected the Senate’s comprehensive bill. Chances have always looked slim, but the White House and outside advocates saw a window for action over the next several months, before Congress’ August recess and November midterm elections.
Denham’s measure was widely popular and seen as perhaps the likeliest area for compromise.
But in recent weeks prominent conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation, announced their opposition. Heritage Action, the group’s political arm, announced it would include the vote in its ratings on lawmakers and called Denham’s legislation “deplorable.”
Cantor himself faces a primary election challenge in the state of Virginia June 10 from a tea party opponent who has criticized the majority leader for not being conservative enough and accused him of supporting amnesty for immigrants living here illegally.
- White House White Board: Immigration and the Economy
- Infographic: The Benefits of Immigration Reform vs. the Cost of Inaction
President Obama understands the importance and urgency in fixing the broken immigration system and outlined his vision for a 21st century immigration policy:
- Responsibility by the federal government to secure our borders:Today, our borders are more secure than at any time in the past several decades, and the Administration continues to refine and strengthen its strategy. Enforcement resources should be focused on preventing those who would do our nation harm from entering our country.
- Accountability for businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers: Employers who deliberately hire and exploit undocumented workers must be held accountable. At the same time, we must give employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.
- Strengthening our economic competiveness by creating a legal immigration system that reflects our values and diverse needs: Our immigration laws should continue to reunify families and encourage individuals we train in our world-class institutions to stay and develop new technologies and industries in the United States rather than abroad. The law should stop punishing innocent young people whose parents brought them here illegally and give those young men and women a chance to stay in this country if they serve in the military or pursue higher education. A smart 21st century system should also provide farmers a legal way to hire the workers they rely on year after year, and it should improve procedures for employers who seek to hire foreign workers for jobs if U.S. workers are not available.
- Responsibility from people who are living in the United States illegally: Those people living here illegally must also be held accountable for their actions and get on the right side of the law by registering and undergoing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, and learning English before they can get in line to become eligible for citizenship. Being a citizen of this country comes not only with rights but also with fundamental responsibilities. We can create a pathway for legal status that is fair and reflects our values.
For the immediate time President Obama has issued these important policies for immigration:
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
President Obama’s new DREAM relief policy [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA] would allow undocumented youth who qualify to request temporary relief from deportation, making them eligible to receive work permits and a social security number. For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/15/remarks-president-immigration
Family Unity Immigration Policy Change
President Obama’s final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents), who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States under certain circumstances. The process will be effective on March 4, 2013 and more information about the filing process will be made available in the coming weeks at http://www.uscis.gov/.
DHS Announces Proposals to Attract and Retain Highly Skilled Immigrants
As part of the Administration’s continuing commitment to attract and retain highly skilled immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced the publication of two proposed rules, including a rule to extend employment authorization to spouses of certain H-1B workers, and a proposal to enhance opportunities for certain groups of highly-skilled workers by removing obstacles to their remaining in the United States.
Issue Guidance for School Districts to Ensure Equal Access for All Children to Public Schools, Regardless of Immigration Status
Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder today announced updated guidance to assist public elementary and secondary schools to ensure enrollment processes are consistent with the law and fulfill their obligation to provide all children—no matter their background—equal access to an education.