WASHINGTON — A divided House of Representatives voted Friday to ease visa restrictions for a limited pool of foreign workers, previewing a fight over how far Congress should go in changing the country’s immigration laws.
The bill the House approved by a vote of 245 to 139 — with just 27 Democrats supporting it — stands little chance of advancing in the Senate, where Democrats have control. And the White House has come out in opposition to the bill, calling it too “narrowly tailored” and incompatible with President Obama’s vision for a more comprehensive approach.
Looming over the House vote was a stark political reality: Republicans received just a sliver of the Hispanic vote in the elections last month, and the party is divided over how best to improve its standing with such a large and growing demographic.
Some Republicans are eager to move forward with legislation that would tighten border controls but also start paving a path to citizenship for some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the United States, a move that could help reverse impressions among Hispanics that the party is hostile to immigrants. But many are also wary of the furor that could arise among conservative voters over any perceived softness on those who are here illegally.
Some leading Republicans have become more vocal about their desire to see immigration legislation pass, albeit in a nuanced fashion. ...
The House bill, which would provide for 55,000 visas for foreign graduates of American universities who have doctoral and master’s degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, was an attempt to reconcile the concerns within the party. And some Republicans acknowledged its shortcomings.
“It is not the panacea,” said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents a stretch of South Florida west of Miami. “It does not solve all the problems. But it takes a huge step.” ...
But some Democrats said Friday that the bill set immigrant groups against one another by deepening demographic divides.
“That is not America,” said Representative Luis V. Gutierrez of Chicago. “There was no special line for Ph.D.’s and master’s degree holders at Ellis Island.”A leading expert on immigration on the Democratic side of Congress is Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who looks like Pat Robertson. From VOXXI:
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus rebuffed recent Republican immigration legislation as partisan. Instead, the caucus laid the groundwork for their own principles on immigration reform as a means for dialogue during a press conference with reporters Wednesday.What, you say that both these gentlemen aren`t Mexican, they are Cuban, and Cubans have their own special immigration package, that they aren`t even racialist opportunists, they`re just individual opportunists propelled forward by the ignorance and madness of the times?
The meeting took place days after Republicans in the Senate and House publicized legislation for a DREAM Act version and STEM Visa that would boost high-skilled labor. Already both bills have undergone scrutiny indicating that it would result in a seemingly partisan divide.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who has been at the forefront of the immigration debate, explained to VOXXI that the bills being proposed from Republicans are not bipartisan in nature and therefore he rejects it.
“I don’t like to negotiate in parts,” said Menendez, while relaying his response to piecemeal legislation. “I want to know everything that my colleagues want. And after that start to negotiate.”
On the Senate side, Menendez said conversations on immigration reform have started individually with members, but not in a collective group.
That echoed the assertion he relayed to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on the Achieve Act. The Achieve Act, sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas), follows similar principles as Sen. Marco Rubio, but offers not pathway to citizenship. The Senator went on to note that the problem with the “Achieve Act is that it doesn’t achieve the dream.”
Menendez reiterated that a pathway to citizenship is non-negotiable. Although he did agree that the Republican efforts are a good starting point from the party’s beliefs in the past. He’s cautiously optimistic.
How racist of you.