President Obama this week tried to give House Republicans another chance to move immigration reform by delaying announcing any changes to deportation policy until after the summer.
But listen to what they’re saying, and it’s clear that top Republican lawmakers aren’t eager to take him up on the offer.
The divide over immigration reform was most clearly on display Thursday on Capitol Hill. Immigrants who either faced deportation or have seen their relatives deported shared heart-wrenching stories before the Congressional Progressive Caucus in an effort to advocate for immigration reform.
Just one floor below that hearing in the Rayburn Office Building, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee grilled Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, charging that the administration is already flouting the law when it comes to immigration enforcement, and can’t be trusted with new immigration policy.
Johnson, the official tasked by Obama with reviewing the administration’s approach to deportations to make them more “humane,” did confirm that he would delay announcing the results of his review, which is still ongoing.
To House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, however, even delaying the results of such a review doesn’t change the equation around immigration reform. “When the president says he’s going to set a time limit and then consider taking actions himself, which many of us read to be again as the president repeating, ‘I’ve got a pen and a cell phone and if you don’t act, I will,’ then that makes doing immigration reform harder, not easier,” Goodlatte said.
The delay of that review was met with a mixed response; Hill Democratic leadership and some pro-reform groups have likewise cautioned the Obama administration from taking executive action, because they view the work period before the August recess as the last window of opportunity for the House to pass reform. They want to give Republicans all the space possible to make it happen.
But many advocates also decried the delay, saying there is no time to waste. They charge that Obama has deported record numbers, and that without action those deportations will just continue. (Goodlatte, for his part, said those record numbers “simply rely on smoke and mirrors.”) Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a leader for reform in the House pushing for executive action, told Johnson Thursday that he is “disappointed” and “sad” about the delay.
Then, Gutierrez turned to Republicans to say, “It’s a pretty grand gesture on the part of the president of the United States, it’s a pretty grand gesture on his part to say ‘no’ to me … and to say ‘no’ to millions of people who support him, voted for him, cherish him, love him, and have protected him — for him to say ‘no’ to us, because he wants to say ‘yes’ to you. Because he wants to reach an agreement with you.”
Johnson also provided clues as to what the results of his review will entail, including how to best prioritize who should be deported, with a focus on national security, public safety, border security.
Johnson said he wants a “fresh start” to the controversial Secure Communities program, in which local law-enforcement officials share with federal immigration officials the fingerprints of those booked in local jails. Some cities and states have opted out of the program, which critics say encourages racial profiling and discourages immigrants from cooperating with the police.
He also endorsed the principles of the program, saying, “I do not believe we should scrap Secure Communities. I believe, given the reality and where we are in this country, we need a fresh start.”
Goodlatte and other Republicans also blasted the administration over the DHS’s last year releasing of about 36,000 immigrants convicted of crimes, including some who had homicide and sexual-assault convictions.
Johnson pledged to the panel that he is reviewing the release of such immigrants, some of whom have “pretty serious criminal convictions.”
That’s one issue that has certainly galvanized House Republicans. In fact, an amendment that gives the Justice Department $5 million to investigate the release of criminals from immigration detention sponsored by an immigration hard-liner, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, passed the House on Thursday.
While advocates clamor for a vote on full immigration reform, that King amendment is one of the few immigration-related bills that actually made it to the House floor this year.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."