Parent Sponsorship Stalls Kids Act

None

 Attendees hold signs calling for immigration reform during a rally in support of immigration reform, in Washington, on October 8, 2013.
National Journal
Fawn Johnson
See more stories about...
Fawn Johnson
Nov. 3, 2013, 7:29 a.m.

The House Re­pub­lic­ans’ Kids Act — a path to cit­izen­ship for un­doc­u­mented youth brought here as chil­dren — has hit a stum­bling block over wheth­er those “kids” would be able to spon­sor their un­doc­u­mented par­ents for green cards after they be­come cit­izens them­selves, ac­cord­ing to people close to the ne­go­ti­ations. How the GOP spon­sors, led by House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor, come down on the ques­tion could af­fect wheth­er the le­gis­la­tion is taken ser­i­ously by Demo­crats and the im­mig­rant com­munity.

The Kids Act is viewed by many law­makers in­volved in im­mig­ra­tion talks as the ful­crum on which the en­tire House ne­go­ti­ation turns. The bill ad­dresses the dicey ques­tion of leg­al­iz­a­tion for at least one group of un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants, and it has Re­pub­lic­an sup­port from rank-and-file mem­bers and party lead­ers. The Kids Act, com­bined with a bor­der se­cur­ity/en­force­ment meas­ure and a nar­row work-visa pro­pos­al, could form the three pil­lars of an im­mig­ra­tion pack­age that would sig­nal to Latino voters in par­tic­u­lar that House Re­pub­lic­ans aren’t ig­nor­ing the is­sue.

The prob­lem comes when law­makers start ask­ing what hap­pens to the chil­dren who even­tu­ally be­come cit­izens un­der the bill. Un­der cur­rent law, they would be al­lowed to spon­sor fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing par­ents, for green cards. That wor­ries some Re­pub­lic­ans who have long ques­tioned the util­ity of fam­ily-based im­mig­ra­tion in the United States. It also is of con­cern to any mem­ber who jus­ti­fies sup­port by say­ing that un­au­thor­ized im­mig­rants brought here as chil­dren were not at fault, their par­ents were.

Demo­crats are angered by this line of reas­on­ing, point­ing out that Re­pub­lic­ans re­peatedly say they sup­port a path to cit­izen­ship for people without pa­pers if those people be­come cit­izens us­ing ex­ist­ing law. Yet they would be chan­ging ex­ist­ing law by in­clud­ing a pro­vi­sion in the Kids Act that bars these par­tic­u­lar cit­izens from spon­sor­ing their fam­ily mem­bers. What’s more, ad­voc­ates say the pro­vi­sion would co­di­fy a ba­sic un­fair­ness in­to the concept of cit­izen­ship. Some cit­izens — i.e., the “kids” — would have few­er rights than oth­ers.

Some Demo­crats and im­mig­rant-ad­vocacy groups have privately told Re­pub­lic­ans that they would hap­pily sup­port Can­tor’s le­gis­la­tion if it did not touch cit­izen­ship rules. Rep. Lu­is Gu­ti­er­rez, D-Ill., a lead­er in the bi­par­tis­an ef­forts to pass im­mig­ra­tion over­haul in the House, is watch­ing the back-and-forth on the Kids Act care­fully, hop­ing that it could jump-start a stalled con­ver­sa­tion on im­mig­ra­tion. But even for Gu­ti­er­rez, tinker­ing with ex­ist­ing cit­izen-spon­sor­ship rights is a deal break­er. “The con­gress­man would sup­port the Kids Act if it is ser­i­ous and the re­form ele­ments are good enough and doesn’t con­tain pois­on pills, like a pro­hib­i­tion on cit­izens spon­sor­ing fam­ily mem­bers for leg­al im­mig­ra­tion,” his spokes­man, Douglas Rivlin, said in a state­ment.

A Kids Act that is sup­por­ted only by Re­pub­lic­ans would sig­nal that bi­par­tis­an ne­go­ti­ations on im­mig­ra­tion are es­sen­tially over for the cur­rent Con­gress. It is the only House bill be­ing worked on by Re­pub­lic­ans that ad­dresses Demo­crats’ core is­sue on im­mig­ra­tion, the status of un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants. Without it, it’s hard to see any­thing hap­pen­ing.

The bi­par­tis­an op­por­tun­it­ies for im­mig­ra­tion re­form are break­ing down any­way, but a few law­makers on both sides of the aisle don’t want to slam the door com­pletely. Rep. Zoe Lof­gren, D-Cal­if., is one of them. She de­clined un­til last week to co­spon­sor House Demo­crats’ broad im­mig­ra­tion bill mir­ror­ing a Sen­ate-passed meas­ure be­cause she wanted to keep open the pos­sib­il­ity of bi­par­tis­an ne­go­ti­ations.

She says the Demo­crat-sponsored bill won’t make a “ma­ter­i­al dif­fer­ence” in the im­mig­ra­tion de­bate. The bill is widely viewed as Demo­crats’ polit­ic­al tool to pres­sure Re­pub­lic­ans on im­mig­ra­tion. That nar­rat­ive was put in­to sharp­er fo­cus when the bill was un­veiled by the fig­ure who is least trust­worthy to House Re­pub­lic­ans, House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi.

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
×