Idaho Leaders Believe Immigration Reform is Within Reach

2012-10-31T02:00:00Z 2013-07-24T08:01:17Z Idaho Leaders Believe Immigration Reform is Within ReachBy Melissa Davlin - mdavlin@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News

Editor’s note: This is the second piece of a two-part series on recent changes to immigration law. Read the first piece about Deferred Action online here.

TWIN FALLS, Idaho • They came to the United States as children, their parents bringing them into the country illegally through no fault of their own.

For some, it’s the only home they’ve ever known. Though they’re undocumented, they hope to build their lives here.

And their future lies in the hands of elected officials for whom they can’t vote.

As many as two million undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States as children could qualify to stay under the proposed DREAMAct, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. While Congress has unsuccessfully worked on immigration reform for years, one of Idaho’s congressmen is optimistic that gridlock will soon dissolve.

But with different proposals on the table, no one knows what that reform might look like.

DREAM Act vs. Deferred Action

There are plenty of immigration reform options for Congress to consider.

The widely cited DREAM Act gives legal permanent residency to qualifying undocumented students. First introduced in 2001, the bill has been reintroduced in various forms frequently since then.

Despite Democrats controlling both House and Senate in 2010, Senate Republicans blocked passage of the bill through filibuster.

In June 2012, President Barack Obama issued an executive order deferring deportation cases for undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as graduating school and having no significant criminal record.

Deferred action isn’t DREAM — it offers no path to citizenship, for one — but it’s a step in the right direction, said immigration attorney Jeremy Pittard in an interview last week.

“I’d like to see it become legislation,”said Pittard, who practices in Twin Falls and Jerome. “It’s going to take an act of Congress to make this permanent.”

The STEM Act

The DREAMAct and deferred action aren’t the only immigration proposals, and not all deal with undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, proposed the STEM Act in September. STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, aimed to make it easier for foreign-born graduate students to stay in the United States by eliminating bureaucratic barriers in the visa program.

That would help not only those graduate students, but the United States economy, Labrador said.

“Right now, foreign born students are benefitting from our education system, and then going home to compete with us,”Labrador said in a September speech on the U.S. House Floor.

The bill, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass, died in the House despite bipartisan support.

In a Tuesday interview with the Times-News, Labrador said he’s optimistic Congress will reconsider the bill.

An Ambitious Reform Plan

Labrador, who has 15 years of experience as an immigration attorney, said the STEM Act is only one piece of the complex immigration reform puzzle. He also hopes to strengthen border security and expand the guest worker program to dairy workers.

Labrador doesn’t support theDREAMAct, Deferred Action or any form of amnesty for undocumented immigrants. That doesn’t mean he’s ignoring the plight of people who would qualify for deferred action.

“We have to find a solution for these kids who are here through no fault of their own,”he said.

But to solve the problem, Congress needs to look at immigration as a whole, he said. It’s too easy for people to enter the country illegally, and too difficult for them to enter legally, he said. But, he said, most of those individuals should go back to their home countries and reapply to come into the country legally.

His office is researching previously introduced proposals. If Labrador wins his re-election campaign — he faces Democratic challenger Jimmy Farris in the general election — he plans to tackle immigration reform and work with both Senate and House membership in both parties to reach a consensus.

“We’re really close, Ithink,”Labrador said.

The other players

Getting Congress to agree on the details of reform is tricky.

Most Congressional Democrats support the DREAM Act, while most Republicans tend to focus on tighter border security and guest worker programs.

U.S. Sen. MikeCrapo, R-Idaho, supported the DREAM Act in 2005, but now opposes amnesty.

“Crapo’s initial support for provisions of the DREAM Act came because he feels children should not be held accountable for the actions of their parents who may have broken U.S. law to come here. He still feels a visa situation should be studied to avoid breaking up families,”said Lindsay Nothern, Crapo’s spokesman, in an e-mail to the Times-News.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he wouldn’t continue deferred action if he wins, but wouldn’t revoke the status for those already approved, according to an interview with the Denver Post.

“Before those visas have expired, we will have the full immigration reform plan that I’ve proposed,”Romney told the Post.

Though another president could do away with Deferred Action, Pittard doesn’t think that’s going to happen.

“I think the political backlash of that could be tremendous,”Pittard said.

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. levotb
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    levotb - November 01, 2012 11:43 am
    Thanks, zoobee! Romney's Immigration page on his website shows that he's a liar when he says he's against Amnesty. For 6 years, he's been promoting a version of Mike Pence's idiotic and unenforeable scheme which Romney dubs "a touchback green card Amnesty" plan. This is what he's working on with his advisors. As per one of his surrogates Carlos Gutierrez (one of the many Bushies in his circle), they already have 750 pages completed. Of course, they aren't mentioning the Amnesty section, only the Guestworker section which Sununu and Gutierrez tell us will bring in 500,000 Mexican green carded farmworkers, scrapping the H-2A Visa Program, etc. What they AREN'T telling us is that 40% or more of those half a million Mexicans will abscond to the cities and suburbs once they're here and will not return to Mexico. That's about 200,000 new illegals. At that point, farmers (BigAg) will scream for yet MORE foreign farmworkers and the Republicans will push through yet another Guestworker bill, bringing more in, on and on and on. The fact is, unless they're put in chains, there's no way to prevent any of these guestworkers from absconding. And what will they do when they get to the cities with the ensconsed Sanctuary ordinances disallowing authorities to ask for their proof of immigration status? They'll compete for the scarce jobs needed by Americans. It's an UNWORKABLE, INSANE plan that is DOOMED TO FAIL and Romney and his advisors know it.

    I strongly advise visiting the "boilerplate" crappola at Romney's website's Immigration page. Read it carefully. Note that there is NOTHING about "enforcement" of the laws on the books except one line that says "Mitt Romney believes in the rule of law and will fully enforce federal immigration law." What he doesn't say is whether he would tell DHS/ICE to begin workplace raids all around the country. These are all "words". There's no specificity. And under the Amnesty section, it says

    "Mitt Romney opposes amnesty because he believes that it acts as a magnet encouraging illegal immigration. The last amnesty law passed in 1986 granted legal status to 2.7 million illegal immigrants. In the decades since, the illegal immigrant population has quadrupled. Mitt believes that an amnesty should not be permitted to happen again. Illegal immigrants who apply for legal status should not be given any advantage over those who are following the law and waiting their turn. Mitt absolutely opposes any policy that would allow illegal immigrants to “cut in line.”"

    Saying that "Romney believes..." is hardly a strong statement. What it DOESN'T state is key: There is NOTHING about rounding up the millions of illegals because he has stated he doesn't believe in that policy (which is the law). So, how does he plan on "addressing the 11 million illegal immigrants In America"? If he isn't going to have ICE "round up 11 million illegals", much less 40 to 60 million of them (the true figures), how will they be forced to leave the U.S.?

    The truth IS...neither Romney nor his big business buddy-donors WANT the millions of illegals to leave! So, why vote for a man who only difference with his opponent is that he (Romney) wants to ram Amnesty thru next year while his opponent wants to do it by EO? Answer: Don't vote for EITHER man!
    In A Civil and Resolute Manner That Respects the Rule of Law

  2. levotb
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    levotb - November 01, 2012 11:20 am
    Labrador is a RINO, pro-lawbreaker idiot! RINOs are as bad or worse than liberals. They call themselves "conservatives" but they're just as pro-lawbreaker as Dems. Don't vote for RINOs!
  3. zoobee
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    zoobee - November 01, 2012 10:42 am
    Try reading: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/immigration
  4. DaveFrancis
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    DaveFrancis - October 31, 2012 6:52 pm
    I don’t normally talk about individual racial groups when referring to illegal immigration, but why do Hispanics always think we are picking on them? This has never, ever been about legal immigrants who came here through proper channels, but about those people who have no respect for our laws. Illegal migrants or immigrants are coming here expecting us to welcome them, when the cost of illegal immigration is costing taxpayers over 113 billion dollars a year. Illegal immigration does not just hurt financially white people, but black, Hispanic, Asian or anywhere else the world turns. Both parties have crippled us, by keep on distributing taxpayer’s money to either foreign countries or to anybody who manages to smuggle themselves and their progeny into the country. Illegal immigration will never stop until we enforce our borders and interior enforcement.

    The LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT as a portion known as E-Verify should be an essential commitment of both political parties? But both parties and the majority of spineless lawmakers other than the growing propagation of the TEA PARTY politicians refuse to bring the bill to the house floor. If executed would drive many foreign nationals out of the country, as work will no longer be available. Businesses or anybody caught hiring unauthorized labor, should be prosecuted, fined, assets taken and thrown in prison. Company owners are stealing jobs from citizens and legal residents and at the same time lowering wages. On a mandatory basis this law could open millions of jobs to Americans of any race, or legal status.

    President Obama has sworn to offer passage to the 20 million plus illegal immigrants settled in this country, but this in truth would be impossible unless he is going to somehow compel the House of Representatives and the Senate with a rising group of TEA PARTY members firmly entrenched in this Congress. He will have ¾ of American population up in arms if he uses some presidential directive, as he did with the DREAM ACT. The 1986 immigration amnesty was a terrible travesty and fraudulent applications for a path to citizenship.

    The largest majority population should understand that by voting for Obama, they are not only hurting job opportunities, but their family values as well. By President Obama winning this election, he will pass a gargantuan amnesty, that will cost over two trillion dollars, but millions more illegal aliens will slip across borders or fly in from every other poor country in the world. Millions more coming here will expect a free health care, free education for the children and welfare cash. This will dry up the public safety-net for every poor American in all 50 states. Any economist or any futurist will tell you we cannot sustain a population of illiterate, impoverished people that turn up here. Other factors involved are water shortages and eventually the shrinkage of energy to run our industry.

    Obama has already held up new drilling for oil, natural gas and has made good on stopping the coal mines from working. Since Obama came to power we have seen nothing but rising price, specifically such things as gas for transportation. Obama’s Czars all have a zealot type Socialist plot, to promote a national entitlement system of freebies for all. No nation can survive with this type of mentality, as we have seen in Europe. A good example is Britain that is part of the European Union, which for years was able to sustain a National Health system. This changed with the influx of millions of legal immigrants swamping the now sagging system that can no longer handle the new applicants—legal and illegal-wanting medical care. Even today Obama is serving up food stamps for illegal immigrants and irrational welfare public assistance programs. The U.S. government should not be telling us how to run our lives? You only find that type of mentality in Communist countries. America has accomplished more than almost any other nation in the world, without being dictated to or pampered by the Washington crooks.

    Each day, each month, each year millions of the unborn are smuggled into America by parents, taking advantage of an archaic law mauled and badly interpreted by the courts. The BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP LAW corrects this massive problem by making it mandatory, that only parents who hold citizenship gain citizenship for their child. The baby is used as an unethical fulcrum so the mother can settle here. It is a financial negative that is costing each state huge red ink deficits in their general fund.
  5. BajaRat
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    BajaRat - October 31, 2012 3:51 pm
    Yeah, what "reform plan" has this RINO bankster lackey proposed? I haven't heard anything about it. Frankly I wouldn't take a leak on Romney if he was on fire.
  6. wigglwagon
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    wigglwagon - October 31, 2012 5:07 am
    “Before those visas have expired, we will have the full immigration reform plan that I’ve proposed,”Romney told the Post."

    What plan has he proposed? Where is it? I must have missed it.

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