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Which Way Forward on Immigration Reform?

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Menendez, Bloomberg, Murdoch Approach Would End Illegal Immigration, Restore the Rule of Law

Hatch and Center for Immigration Studies Call For More of Failed Status Quo

Washington, DC – This week, prominent leaders such as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, business titans such as Rupert Murdoch, and economists such as Robert Rubin called on Congress to pass sensible comprehensive immigration reform.  Meanwhile, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill that would chart a course forward on the issue.  These leaders recognize the inextricable link between fixing immigration and strengthening our economic future. 

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans in Congress looked to Steven Camarota of the faux think tank Center for Immigration Studies for his analysis of immigration and the economy.  Camarota’s recent work includes a publication that blames immigrants for global warming.  And Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a bill that reflects his belief that what is really needed to fix our nation’s broken immigration system is more of the same failed enforcement-only policies. 

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration invited Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and CEO and Founder of Bloomberg L.P.; Rupert Murdoch, publishing mogul and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of News Corp; as well as Jeff Mosley, President and CEO of the business group Greater Houston Partnership to share with Congress their view that comprehensive immigration reform makes sense for the economy and would create good jobs.  Earlier this week at the Brookings Institution, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy; and several leading economists sent the same message

Following his testimony, Mayor Bloomberg participated in a discussion at the Washington Ideas Forum, where he noted, “Unless [immigration reform is] comprehensive, it’s meaningless,” and said that U.S. is “committing national suicide” on immigration, education, and the economy.   According to The Atlantic, Bloomberg also called for “a three-pronged policy that would secure the borders, provide visas to people already in the country illegally, and reduce the demand for undocumented workers.  Unless Congress tackles all three goals simultaneously, he said, reform would be useless.”

In contrast to those like Bloomberg, who occupy the sensible center of the debate, Republican Members of the House Immigration Subcommittee called as their “expert” witness Steven Camarota of the anti-immigrant group Center for Immigration Studies and author of several publications blaming immigrants for global warming, as well as another titled “The Minuteman’s Success” in reference to the notorious border vigilantes.  The Center for Immigration Studies is a “think tank” founded by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).  FAIR has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Camarota’s views in favor of enforcement-only policy approaches have an ally in House Immigration Subcommittee Ranking Member Congressman Steve King (R-IA), who said that, “Whatever the analysis of the economics, we have also the rule of law that to me is priceless.  I’m certainly not going to sacrifice the rule of law for an economic interest because I think that is more important to this country.”  Of course, King fails to get that enforcement-only has been tried for the past twenty-five years and has yet to work to restore the rule of law – something that will only happen with enforcement is combined with smart reforms in a comprehensive overhaul.

The contrast on immigration between sensible reform and more-of-the-same also came into sharp relief in the U.S. Senate this week, as Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced separate immigration bills with two completely opposing views of the reform that is needed to end illegal immigration and restore the rule of law.  The Menendez bill, co-sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy, hews to the “three-pronged policy” approach advocated by Mayor Bloomberg and immigration reform policy experts, while the Hatch bill is a grab-bag of enforcement-only efforts similar to the status quo.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The Menendez legislation is an important legislative starting point for a realistic and effective solution to the problem of illegal immigration, while the Hatch bill is essentially the status quo on steroids.  With more and more experts and leaders from across the political spectrum stepping up and speaking out, isn’t it time Republicans did more than listen to hardliners with an axe to grind?  Isn’t it time they get serious and work with Democrats to solve this problem once and for all?”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform