How Everyone Is Trying to Sway the Immigration Debate

Immigration reform advocates support an American flag while taking part in a National Day of Dignity and Respect march on October 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Thousands of people marched for comprehensive immigration reform in more than 150 events nationwide.
National Journal
Elahe Izad
See more stories about...
Elahe Izad
Jan. 31, 2014, 7:35 a.m.

House Re­pub­lic­ans aren’t even con­sid­er­ing an ac­tu­al im­mig­ra­tion re­form bill — just a one-page doc­u­ment with a bunch of some­what vague prin­ciples — and already folks on all sides are shower­ing law­makers with memos to sway opin­ion.

Alabama’s Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, an out­spoken crit­ic of the Sen­ate’s com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion bill, has been work­ing be­hind the scenes to dis­cour­age his Re­pub­lic­an coun­ter­parts in the House from tack­ling re­form. He dis­trib­uted a memo to fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans be­fore the House GOP re­treat this week. It de­clares that “Re­pub­lic­ans must end the law­less­ness — not sur­render to it.” The 30-page doc­u­ment has a “fact vs. myth” sec­tion and in­cludes “ob­ject­ive polling data — not mis­lead­ing polls from spe­cial in­terests.”

Those want­ing re­form have been passing out their own memos. FWD.us, the pro-im­mig­ra­tion re­form group backed by Face­book founder Mark Zuck­er­berg, has sent a doc­u­ment to all House Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans, in­clud­ing those huddled at their an­nu­al re­treat, a FWD.us spokes­man con­firms. And that memo slams some groups as “anti-im­mig­rant” that are “re­flex­ively op­posed to any at­tempt to fix our broken im­mig­ra­tion sys­tem.” It refers to “hate­ful rhet­or­ic, ex­treme views, and blatant false­hoods.”

“We’re en­cour­aged that House Re­pub­lic­ans have put forth draft prin­ciples to guide their ap­proach to im­mig­ra­tion re­form and want to make sure all mem­bers have polling, re­search, and rel­ev­ant re­sources in the com­ing weeks as they work to craft le­gis­la­tion,” the FWD.us spokes­man said in a state­ment. “Rel­ev­ant re­sources in­cludes fac­tu­al in­form­a­tion that many of these mem­bers may not have about the ori­gins and real mo­tiv­a­tions of some of the loudest anti-im­mig­rant groups.”

FWD.us was foun­ded in 2013 in an ef­fort to bol­ster the pro­spects of com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion re­form, and it spent $600,000 on lob­by­ing.

While out­side groups and even sen­at­ors will have a meas­ure of in­flu­ence over what mem­bers in the House end up do­ing on im­mig­ra­tion re­form, they’re not the ones ac­tu­ally cast­ing the votes. Per­haps the most telling sig­nal of the up­com­ing House de­bate can be found in the re­ac­tions to the GOP draft prin­ciples from mem­bers of House Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship. Simply put, they’re not shut­ting the door on Re­pub­lic­ans. 

House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi said her caucus “wel­comes” the re­lease of their draft, which ex­cludes a path­way to cit­izen­ship and in­stead calls for leg­al­iz­a­tion. “As Re­pub­lic­ans un­veil more spe­cif­ics of their le­gis­la­tion, we hope we can find com­mon ground with our Demo­crat­ic prin­ciples — to se­cure our bor­ders, pro­tect our work­ers, unite our fam­il­ies, and provide an earned path­way to cit­izen­ship,” she said.

So, sure, they have their dif­fer­ences, but Pelosi’s re­marks are a world away from those of people like AFL-CIO Pres­id­ent Richard Trumka, who called the draft “a flimsy doc­u­ment that only serves to un­der­score the cal­lous at­ti­tude Re­pub­lic­ans have to­ward our na­tion’s im­mig­rants.”

What We're Following See More »
DONATING TO FOOD BANKS
Government Buying $20 Million in Cheese
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Thanks to competition from Europe, America's cheese stockpiles are at a 30-year high. Enter the U.S. government, which announced it's buying 11 million pounds of the stuff (about $20 million). The cheese will be donated to food banks.

Source:
BRIEFER THAN TRUMP’S?
Clinton to Receive Classified Briefing on Saturday
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS
FHFA RULES APPLY
Judge: Freddie Mac Doesn’t Have to Open Its Books
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Freddie Mac shareholders cannot force the mortgage finance company to allow them to inspect its records, a federal court ruled Tuesday." A shareholder had asked the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to allow him to inspect its books and records, as Virginia law allows him to do. "The court held that Freddie shareholders no longer possess a right to inspect the company’s records because those rights had been transferred to the Federal Housing Finance Agency when the company entered into conservatorship in 2008."

Source:
MANY BEING TRADED ON BLACK MARKET
Pentagon Can’t Account for 750k Guns Provided to Iraq, Afghanistan
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The Pentagon has "provided more than 1.45 million firearms to various security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, including more than 978,000 assault rifles, 266,000 pistols and almost 112,000 machine guns." Trouble is, it can only account for about 700,000 of those guns. The rest are part of a vast arms trading network in the Middle East. "Taken together, the weapons were part of a vast and sometimes minimally supervised flow of arms from a superpower to armies and militias often compromised by poor training, desertion, corruption and patterns of human rights abuses."

Source:
SINCE JANUARY
Baltimore Is Spying on Its Residents from the Air
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"Since the beginning of the year, the Baltimore Police Department" has been using a Cessna airplane armed with sophisticated camera equipment "to investigate all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings." The public hasn't been notified about the system, funded by a private citizen.

Source:
×