Posts Tagged ‘“Gang of Eight”’

Democrats were for a border wall before they were against it

January 11, 2019

Barring some miraculous breakthrough, on Saturday the current government shutdown will become the longest in American history. But it has already hit another historic milestone: It is, by far and away, the stupidest government shutdown in American history.

In 2019, the federal government will spend a whopping $4.407 trillion. Yet Congress and the president are shutting down the government in a dispute between the $1.3 billion the Democrats have approved for border security and the $5.7 billion the president is demanding — the difference being precisely 0.0998 percent of the total federal budget. In Washington, that is considered a rounding error.

Worse, Democrats are doing it over a border wall strikingly similar to one that they almost unanimously supported just five years ago. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) now says that “a wall is an immorality,” back in 2013, she supported a bill that required the construction of 700 miles of border fencing. (Trump has called for a wall of “anywhere from 700 to 900 miles” long.) The bill negotiated by the Gang of Eight, which included current Democratic leaders Sens. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), declared that “not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall establish . . . the ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy,’ to identify where 700 miles of fencing (including double-layer fencing) . . . should be deployed along the Southern border.”

By  Marc A. Thiessen
Washington Post

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are joined by furloughed federal workers at an event in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the impact on families of the partial government shutdown and President Trump’s demands for funding a U.S.-Mexico border wall. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

That’s not all. The bill further said that “the Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant status . . . until 6 months after . . . [the Secretary submits] a written certification that . . . there is in place along the Southern Border no fewer than 700 miles of pedestrian fencing.” In other words, Democrats agreed that no illegal immigrants could get a path to citizenship until all 700 miles of border fencing had been fully completed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Washington, D.C., Jan. 8.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Washington, D.C., Jan. 8. PHOTO: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Every Senate Democrat voted for the Gang of Eight bill — including 36 Democratic senators still serving today. President Barack Obama agreed to sign it. Indeed, he praised the bill for including what he called “the most aggressive border security plan in our history” and said that “the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I — and many others — have repeatedly laid out” (emphasis added). That bears repeating: Obama said building a 700-mile fence on the southern border was consistent with the principles of the Democratic Party.

Pelosi supported the Gang of Eight bill, saying at the time that “every piece of this legislation has had bipartisan support” (emphasis added). But now we are shutting down the government over a wall much like the one that Pelosi and Senate Democrats fully supported just five years ago?

Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi hopes to find ‘common ground’ with Republicans

Democrats will object that the Gang of Eight bill did fund a border wall, but it was in exchange for a lot of concessions. Of course it was. As Obama said at the time, “the bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise.” But today, Democrats are refusing to compromise or lay out what concessions they would accept in exchange for wall funding. When Trump rhetorically backed off the wall and talked about “steel slats” — a fence — Democrats ignored it. When Vice President Pence reportedly offered a deal for $2.5 billion, Democrats dismissed it. In a White House meeting Wednesday, Trump asked Pelosi whether, if he agreed to end the shutdown and negotiate separately on border security, she would support wall funding. She said no. That is ridiculous.

In their response to the president’s address to the nation, Schumer and Pelosi accused Trump of “manufacturing a crisis.” That is simply untrue. As The Post reported this week, the United States now faces “a bona fide emergency on the border” as “record numbers of migrant families are streaming into the United States, overwhelming border agents and leaving holding cells dangerously overcrowded with children, many of whom are falling sick.”

Democrats could not possibly be in a better position to demand concessions form Trump if they had manufactured a crisis. So put some demands on the table, for crying out loud. If Democrats think they have Trump cornered, then squeeze him and try get a lot out of him. But don’t refuse to negotiate and tell us the wall is an “immorality” — because their voting history shows they don’t believe that.

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Above: Sign near former President Barack Obama’s house…..



The FBI’s Watergate

June 5, 2018

What did the bureau know, when did it know it, and how did it learn it?

FBI Director Christopher Wray arrives at an intelligence briefing in Washington, D.C., May 24.
FBI Director Christopher Wray arrives at an intelligence briefing in Washington, D.C., May 24. PHOTO: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

“What did the president know, and when did he know it?” On June 28, 1973, during a hearing before the Senate Watergate Committee, the ranking member, Tennessee Republican Howard Baker, posed the central question of the investigation.

Forty-five summers after Baker uttered those historic words, the same question now hangs over the alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Russia in the 2016 election. But this time the question is directed at the investigators. It runs like this: What did the FBI know, when did it know it—and from whom did it get this information?

The answers are essential to a public accounting of what in fact happened during an election in which the FBI was investigating both the Republican and Democratic nominees for president or their campaigns. But unlike Watergate, which the FBI solved, the more we learn about these investigations, the more troubling the FBI’s behavior appears. Unfortunately, rather than make a clean breast of it all, new FBI Director Christopher Wray behaves as though the bureau doesn’t need to answer to the American people’s elected representatives in Congress.

For weeks Washington has awaited a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general on the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Some findings were released in April, concluding that former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lied repeatedly to investigators. The inspector general recommended criminal charges. We won’t know the full depth of wrongdoing until the whole report is made public. But thanks to indiscreet texts between FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, we know that folks in the bureau understood before the FBI interviewed Mrs. Clinton that she would not be charged, notwithstanding the testimony before Congress by former Director James Comey that he hadn’t made up his mind.

While the Russia investigation is a separate affair, the drama features some of the same FBI players. Officially this FBI investigation started on July 31, 2016. But here’s the problem: If the Russia investigation didn’t start until late July, how was it that the FBI’s “top secret” informant, Stefan Halper, had met the Trump campaign’s Carter Page earlier that month at a University of Cambridge symposium that Mr. Halper helped put on?

Mr. Wray wasn’t the director when the FBI started its Russia investigation. Mr. Comey was, and he has testified that news of the investigation was too sensitive to share with the Gang of Eight, which comprises the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate as well as the chairmen and ranking members of their respective intel committees. Which makes no sense, because the Gang of Eight’s purpose is to provide a way for the intelligence community to share sensitive information with Congress.

Unfortunately, Mr. Wray (along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ) has resisted clearing everything up by producing the documents still under congressional subpoena. In a Sunday interview with Fox News, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes suggested that if his committee was given the relevant documents, and they confirmed the bureau’s account, by Friday the committee would be able to say “look, the Department of Justice and the FBI did nothing wrong” and wrap up its investigation.

Alas, Mr. Wray (along with Mr. Rosenstein) has been playing a double game, pretending to cooperate with Congress but acting to keep documents away from the committees or produce them only in absurdly redacted form.

No one should be surprised. At a December hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Wray suggested he couldn’t share classified information with Congress. The following month, he and Mr. Rosenstein tried to make an end run around the House Intel Committee’s demands for info in a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

In March, Mr. Wray publicly promised a “transparent and responsive” FBI. To that end he would be “doubling” the number of staff assigned to responding to Congress. It’s the classic Beltway dodge, focusing on inputs over output.

Congress is still waiting for the bureau to make good on Mr. Wray’s promise. Meanwhile, sideshows dominate the headlines, from a silly debate about whether Mr. Halper was a spy or an informant to another over whether President Trump can pardon himself.

Eventually Congress will get answers. Press reports have suggested some rank-and-file FBI agents are itching to speak up about what happened under Mr. Comey. Sen. Chuck Grassley last week urged them to come forward, noting they don’t need to be subpoenaed to tell Congress what they know. More telling details could also come from the FBI officials involved, who are at some point likely to testify, under oath, before the House Intel Committee.

To salvage his own and his agency’s credibility, Mr. Wray needs to come clean about the most fundamental question still remaining about the FBI’s Russia investigation: how and why it began. If the bureau’s been telling the truth, it has nothing to fear.

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Russia probe reaches “person of interest” — said to be White House official

May 19, 2017

The Washington Post
May 19 at 3:02 PM
The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.
.The revelation comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had lied to administration officials about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Cabinet members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

 Image result for white house, summer, photos

People familiar with the investigation said the intensifying effort does not mean criminal charges are near, or that any such charges will result. Earlier this week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to serve as special counsel and lead the investigation into Russian meddling.

It is unclear exactly how Mueller’s leadership will affect the direction of the probe, and he is already bringing in new people to work on the team. Those familiar with the case said its significance had increased before Mueller’s appointment.

While the case began quietly last July as an effort to determine whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian operatives to meddle in the presidential election campaign, the investigative work now being done by the FBI also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president. The people familiar with the matter said the probe has sharpened into something more fraught for the White House, the FBI and the Justice Department — particularly because of the public steps investigators know they now need to take, the people said.

When subpoenas are issued or interviews are requested, it is possible the people being asked to talk or provide documents will reveal publicly what they were asked about.

A small group of lawmakers known as the Gang of Eight were notified of the change in tempo and focus in the investigation at a classified briefing on Wednesday evening, the people familiar with the matter said. FBI Director James Comey had publicly confirmed the existence of the investigation in March.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said, “I can’t confirm or deny the existence or non-existence of investigations or targets of investigations.” An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, “as the president has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity.’’

While there has been a loud public debate in recent days over the question of whether the president might have attempted to obstruct justice in his private dealings with FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired last week, people familiar with the matter said investigators on the case are more focused on Russian influence operations and possible financial crimes.

The FBI’s investigation seeks to determine whether and to what extent Trump associates were in contact with Kremlin operatives, what business dealings they might have had in Russia, and whether they in any way facilitated the hacking and publishing of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails during the presidential campaign. Several congressional committees are also investigating, though their probes could not produce criminal charges.

A grand jury in Alexandria, Va. recently issued a subpoena for records related to Flynn’s business, The Flynn Intel Group, which had been paid more than $500,000 by a company owned by a Turkish American businessman close to top Turkish officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Flynn Intel Group was paid for research on Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who Turkey’s current president believes was responsible for a coup attempt last summer. Flynn retroactively registered with the Justice Department in March as a paid foreign agent for Turkish interests.

Separately from the probe now run by Mueller, Flynn is being investigated by the Pentagon’s top watchdog for his foreign payments. Flynn also received $45,000 to appear in 2015 with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a dinner for RT, a Kremlin-controlled media organization.

Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, and he withheld that fact from even the Vice President. That prompted then Acting Attorney General Sally Yates to warn the White House’s top lawyer he might be susceptible to blackmail. Flynn stepped down after The Washington Post reported on the contents of the call.

The president has nonetheless seemed to defend his former adviser. A memo by fired FBI Director Comey alleged Trump even asked that the probe into Flynn be shut down.

The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., in late November. Kushner also has acknowledged that he met with the head of a Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. The president’s son in law initially omitted contacts with foreign leaders from a national security questionnaire, though his lawyer has said publicly he submitted the form prematurely and informed the FBI soon after he would provide an update.

Vnesheconombank handles development for the state, and in early 2015, a man purporting to be one of its New York-based employees was arrested and accused of being an unregistered spy.

That man – Evgeny Buryakov – ultimately pleaded guilty and was eventually deported. He had been in contact with former Trump adviser Carter Page, though Page has said he shared only “basic immaterial information and publicly available research documents” with the Russian. Page was the subject of a secret warrant last year issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, based on suspicions he might have been acting as an agent of the Russian government, according to people familiar with the matter. Page has denied any wrongdoing, and accused the government of violating his civil rights.

Ellen Nakashima and Ashley Parker contributed to this report.

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Breaking News: Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office that James Comey’s firing relieved “great pressure”

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U.S. Immigration: All Eyes on Boehner, Republican Controlled House of Representatives

June 28, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) – Attention is shifting to the House and its conservative majority after the Senate passed a landmark immigration bill opening the door to U.S. citizenship to millions while pouring billions of dollars into securing the border with Mexico.


The bill’s prospects are highly uncertain in the Republican-led House, where conservatives generally oppose citizenship for immigrants living in the country unlawfully. Many also prefer a step-by-step approach rather than a comprehensive bill like the legislation the Senate passed Thursday on a bipartisan vote of 68-32.

Members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” who crafted the immigration reform bill, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., center, flanked by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., leave the floor after final passage in the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., follows at rear. In remarks to reporters, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a conservative Republican, praised the leadership of Democrat Chuck Schumer, saying “Senator Schumer’s a worthy successor to Ted Kennedy.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Following the Senate vote, President Barack Obama, who’s made an immigration overhaul a top second-term priority, called on the House to act.

“Today, the Senate did its job. It’s now up to the House to do the same,” Obama said in a statement issued as he traveled in Africa. “As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye. Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop common-sense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen.”

Members of the Senate’s so-called Gang of Eight, the senators who drafted the bill and hoped a resounding vote total would pressure the House, echoed the plea.

“To our friends in the House, we ask for your consideration and we stand ready to sit down and negotiate with you,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. “You may have different views on different aspects of this issue, but all of us share the same goal, and that is to take 11 million people out of the shadows, secure our borders and make sure that this is the nation of opportunity and freedom.”

At a news conference, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made clear the House would not simply take up the Senate bill as some Democrats and outside advocates are calling for, but would chart its own legislation with a focus on border security. How exactly Boehner will proceed remained unclear, but the speaker has called a special meeting of his majority Republicans for July 10 to go over options.

“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill,” Boehner said. “It’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people.”

The bill passed by the Senate devotes $46 billion to border security improvements, including calling for a doubling of the border patrol stationed on the U.S.-Mexico border and the completion of 700 miles of fencing – changes added at the last minute to attract Republican support. No one would be able to get a permanent resident green card until those border enhancements and others were in place.

The bill also makes it mandatory for employers to check their workers’ legal status, sets up new visa programs to allow workers into the country and establishes new tracking systems at seaports and airports to keep better tabs on people entering and leaving the country.

At its contentious core, though, is a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in this country illegally.

Without such a provision, senators say the legislation could not pass the Senate. With it, its prospects are difficult in the House.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted that the House might end up having to pass the Senate bill after failing to find any other avenue forward and feeling pressure from the public to act.

But that approach is strongly opposed by many conservatives. Boehner also dismissed the idea of relying on Democratic votes instead of a majority of his Republicans to pass an immigration bill.

At the same time Boehner said he hopes the bill will be bipartisan, and he encouraged a House group of four Democrats and three Republicans trying to forge a compromise to continue their efforts.

He offered no details on how a House bill could be both bipartisan and supported by more than half of his own rank and file, given that most of the single-issue immigration bills that have moved through the House Judiciary Committee recently did so on party-line votes over the protests of Democrats. None envisions legal status for immigrants now here illegally.

Boehner declined to say whether there were circumstances under which he could support a pathway to citizenship, but he made clear that securing the border was a priority.

“People have to have confidence that the border is secure before anything else is really going to work. Otherwise, we repeat the mistakes of 1986,” he said, referring to the last time Congress overhauled the immigration system.

One option could be to bring up one or more of four narrowly focused immigration bills approved by the Judiciary Committee this week and last, hoping to pass it and use it as a vehicle for House members to enter into negotiations with senators on a merged bill in the fall or winter.

Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.


WASHINGTON — Senate passage of a comprehensive immigration overhaul sparked no excitement in the GOP-controlled House, where Republican leaders continue to oppose the Senate bill in favor of a piecemeal approach to addressing the nation’s immigration system.

“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill through regular order, and it’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “And for any legislation, including a (final bill), to pass the House, it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members.”

Boehner has faced criticism in his own party for passing major legislation – including the bill at the start of the year to avert the “fiscal cliff” – by relying on the support of House Democrats to overcome the opposition of conservative Republicans. He vowed Thursday that he would not do so on immigration.

House Republicans will hold a special closed-door meeting July 10 to discuss the way forward on immigration, but leading lawmakers have made clear that there is broad opposition to the Senate’s comprehensive approach and little GOP interest in a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants until the U.S.-Mexican border is secured.

“My view is: Break this down. Break it down into smaller components,” said Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., a top vote-counter for Republicans. “Clearly where our conference is, is all about trying to deal with a secure border. Once there is a level of confidence on a secure border, then you can begin to move forward on these other elements.”

STORY: Senate passes sweeping immigration overhaul

Roskam said House Republicans are wary of any legislation the size and scope of the Senate bill because it is reminiscent to GOP lawmakers of President Obama’s health care law. There is also a generally held view among Republicans that bills that size are politically perilous because the public doesn’t trust them.

“The House has no capacity to move that (Senate) bill in its entirety. It just won’t happen. It is a pipedream to think that that bill is going to go to the floor and be voted on,” he said.

The bill is politically difficult for most House Republicans, who represent less diverse and more conservative districts after  the 2012 process that redrew district lines based on population shifts. According to the non-partisan Cook Political Report, about 80% of House Republicans represent districts so conservative they are unlikely to ever face a general election threat. In that climate, Republicans are more likely to face primary election threats, and immigration has long been a divisive issue within the GOP.

Instead, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been moving bills that deal with isolated components of immigration.

Last week, the committee passed bills that would revamp the visa system for agricultural workers and encourage state and local law enforcement agencies to help enforce federal immigration laws. This week, it worked on bills that would provide more work visas to foreigners trained in high-tech fields and nationalize a program requiring business owners to check the immigration status of new hires.

No bills have been filed to address the central questions of border security and a pathway to citizenship. And none of the bills heard in the Judiciary Committee has received any Democratic support because of how they approach each issue.

There is considerably more support among House Democrats for a Senate-style comprehensive overhaul that includes both border security and a pathway to citizenship, and House Democratic leaders have warned Republicans that a piecemeal approach is less likely to win Democratic support.

MORE: Will Senate vote matter in 2014 elections?

“There are obviously some issues which have greater support than others, and to simply adopt those that have an economic consequence to the business community or other people without addressing the issues of families and immigrants, employers, I think would be a mistake,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the party’s top vote counter.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told USA TODAY’s “Capital Download” that “at the end of the day we have to have a path to citizenship” for Democrats to support a final bill.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., is one of the members of a bipartisan group of representatives  trying to craft an all-encompassing bill similar to the one passed by the Senate.

He said he has been disappointed by individual Republican bills fueled by “vitriolic rhetoric that is being used to support them, the criminalization of immigrants.” He worries that approach will lead to partisan attacks on both sides that will kill any chance of reaching a compromise with the Senate.

“We will start the process of condemnation and demonization,” Gutierrez said of the bills advancing in the House. “But does that lead us to a solution?”

Instead, he said, his group hopes to offer a bill after the July 4 recess that both Democrats and Republicans can embrace. He will appear alongside Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., on CNN on Sunday to show a sign of bipartisanship and will join Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada on Monday for a symbolic passing of the torch on immigration.

Gutierrez said he plans to prove that not all House Republicans are opposed to a comprehensive bill. “If you create an avenue for Democrats and Republicans to work together to be a counterpoint to Goodlatte, that’s something people can rally for vs. something they can rally against.”

Some senators warn House Republicans that blocking the bill could doom GOP prospects for a White House victory in 2016.

“We’ve hit a demographic wall,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a leading GOP proponent of the Senate overhaul. “If we can’t grow our numbers among particularly Hispanics, it’s pretty hard to win the White House in 2016.” Although the party’s economic agenda is popular with Hispanics, “it’s hard to sell your economic agenda if they think they’re going to deport your grandmother,” he said.


The Supreme Court said Tuesday that a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced until Congress comes up with a new way of determining which states and localities require close federal monitoring of elections.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is likely to help Republicans alter voting rules and districts in key states, voting rights experts said in the wake of the ruling Tuesday, potentially setting off a string of dominoes that could bolster the GOP’s majority in the House of Representatives for years, or even decades, to come.

The opinion, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the Court’s four conservative members, ruled unconstitutional Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That section lays out the formulas for deciding which states, counties and cities must receive so-called “pre-clearance” from the Justice Department before making any changes to voting procedures.

The jurisdictions that needed pre-clearance under a 1975 revision had a history of discriminating against certain minorities. They include a handful of Southern states, where African Americans faced discrimination, and a number of counties and cities in other states where minorities faced hurdles in voting rights, including two counties in South Dakota, five counties in Florida and three boroughs of New York City.

Civil rights advocates had worried the Court might go farther by invalidating Section 5 of the Act, which lays out the manner in which a covered jurisdiction achieves preclearance. But without Section 4, Section 5 is effectively toothless.

The ruling is unlikely to immediately lead to changes in the makeup of the House of Representatives, observers said, because of one section the Court left untouched. Section 2 of the Act protects voting districts in which minority populations exceed 50 percent of the voting age population; the vast majority of Democrats who represent Southern states hold majority-minority districts, and national interest groups like the Democratic Party and the NAACP are likely to bring lawsuits if state legislatures tamper with district lines in an effort to dilute minority voting power. What’s more, packing minority voters into certain districts can make other, neighboring seats lean toward Republicans.

It’s at the local level where the ruling is likely to have the longest-lasting impact. In many Southern states, legislative districts that elect minority candidates don’t cross the 50 percent threshold, said Michael McDonald, a George Mason University political scientist who studies voting rights and statistics. Those districts would have been subject to the protection of the Justice Department under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, but not under Section 2.

McDonald pointed to Floyd Nicholson, an African American South Carolina Democrat who represents a state Senate district in Greenwood. Nicholson’s district is about 33 percent black; the Justice Department could block any changes to Nicholson’s district under Section 5, but not under Section 2. That means, in the next round of legislative redistricting, Republicans could theoretically split Nicholson’s Democratic base among Republican districts. While losing Nicholson’s state Senate district wouldn’t hurt Democrats in Congress, it would further cement the Republican majority in the South Carolina legislature.

And in South Carolina, as in most other states around the country, the legislature draws Congressional district boundaries. Cementing control over the legislature helps Republicans keep the Congressional seats they already control.

“There are lots of districts like that at the state legislative and local level [where] the minority communities are too small to cross the 50 percent threshold,” McDonald said. “It’s really at the state and local level that we’re going to see the impact of this ruling.”

Eliminating pre-clearance requirements likely also means voting changes in Arizona, where the legislature is considering a bill that would make changes to key elements of the state’s voting laws. The Arizona bill would prohibit organizations from collecting early and absentee ballots from voters and turning them in en masse, an activity the state Democratic Party and Hispanic organizations practice in an effort to boost turnout among voters who might not otherwise make it to the polls. Another provision makes it easier to purge names from a permanent list of early voters. Democrats have spent almost two decades pushing for greater access to early and absentee ballots, in hopes of expanding their voter base.

Both changes likely would have been challenged under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, because Arizona is one of the states that had been required to get pre-clearance before it alters election rules.

Similarly, several states that required pre-clearance are likely to move forward with voter identification laws that had been blocked by the Justice Department. Justice had approved voter ID laws in Virginia and New Hampshire, but it blocked stricter legislation in Texas, which was passed in the last few years.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Tuesday’s decision meant his state could implement the law without Justice’s approval.

“With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” Abbott said, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Democrats have reacted angrily to the Supreme Court’s decision. Both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder said they were “deeply disappointed,” and the White House called on Congress to act quickly to revise pre-clearance requirements to comply with the majority opinion.

“As a nation, we’ve made a great deal of progress towards guaranteeing every American the right to vote. But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists,” Obama said in a statement. “And while today’s decision is a setback, it doesn’t represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination.”

But Republican opposition to the pre-clearance provision means any bipartisan agreement is highly unlikely.

“As long as Republicans have a majority in the House and Democrats don’t have 60 votes in the Senate, there will be no preclearance,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, told reporters after the ruling was announced.

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U.S. Immigration Reform Bill: As currently written, it has “no chance” of passing — And Planned Amendments Worry Lawmakers

June 13, 2013

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a co-author and key proponent of the Senate immigration bill, said he will revoke his support if an amendment is added that allows gay unauthorized immigrants to claim foreign same-sex partners as family.

“If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m done,” Rubio said Thursday during an interview on the Andrea Tantaros Show. “I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly. I don’t think that’s going to happen and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”

The amendment, introduced by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, would grant green cards to foreign partners of gay unauthorized immigrants who seek legal status under new rules in the bill. Leahy originally introduced the measure during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the bill, but he withdrew it under pressure from Republican lawmakers who said it would reduce the chance of the bill passing.

The effort underway in Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration system is a bipartisan one, and its success hinges on a fragile coalition of political, business and religious groups that span the ideological spectrum. Opponents of Leahy’s amendment have said repeatedly that his proposal would cause some key groups to withdraw their support and kill the bill. Rubio’s exit would be especially devastating to its survival.

The Senate is expected to vote on Leahy’s amendment soon.

In the interview, Rubio also said that as the bill is currently written, it has “no chance” of passing.

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Harry Reid Blocks Gang of Eight Immigration Bill Amendment

June 12, 2013

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gestures as he addresses reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blocked a vote on the border security amendment to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill offered by Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

Grassley was pushing for an up-or-down vote by the Senate on his amendment, which would have required the border to be secured for six full months before any legalization of illegal immigrants in America began. Reid objected to Grassley’s motion, effectively implementing a 60-vote threshold that completely blocked any attempt at a fair vote on the amendment.


Grassley protested Reid’s plan, which the Senate Majority Leader laughed off. “I’m somewhat surprised at this request,” Reid said in response. “How many times have we heard the Republican Leader say on this floor and publicly that the new reality in the United States Senate is 60?”

So I just thought I was following the direction of the Republican Leader. I mean, this is what he said. That’s why we’re having 60 votes on virtually everything. And with this bill, with this bill, no one can in any way suggest this bill is not important and these amendments aren’t important. So, I care a great deal about my friend, the ranking member on this committee, but I object.

Grassley responded with fury to Reid’s obstruction. “Well, it’s amazing to me that the majority has touted this immigration bill process as one that is open and regular order, but right out of the box, just on the third day, they want to subject our amendments to a filibuster like a 60-vote threshold.”

“So I have to ask, who is obstructing now?” Grassley said. “There is no reason, particularly in this first week, at the beginning of the process, to be blocking our amendments with a 60-vote margin that’s required when you suppose there is a filibuster.”

Grassley said the Senate should “at least start out” the immigration process with “regular order.”

“Otherwise, it really looks like the fix is in and the bill is rigged to pass basically as it is,” Grassley said. “Bottom line, you should have seen how the 18 members of the Judiciary Committee operated for five or six days over a two-week period of time.”

“Everything was open, everything was transparent,” he explained. “There was a complete cooperation between the majority and the minority, and there is no reason why we can’t do that out here in the United States Senate right now and particularly at the beginning.”

“This is a very provocative act,” Grassley warned.

Grassley was not the only senator who expressed dissatisfaction with the process Reid was using on the Senate floor. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who voted in favor of the bill coming out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said during a floor speech that he is concerned votes on his amendments will be blocked as well.

“I was promised by leaders in the Gang of Eight they would work with me, that they would help me to get these things done,” Hatch said. “I consider those promises to be very important, and yet I’ve had some indication over the last few days that maybe they’re not going to work with me.”

“I don’t think anybody’s acted in better good faith than I have,” Hatch claimed. “As I’ve said, I’d like to support the bill, and make no mistake about it, I don’t want people stiffing me on things I consider to be important without even talking, without even working with me to resolve any problems they may have. And, I’m not the kind of guy who takes that lightly.”

Hatch went on to say he thinks there is “too much partisanship around here anyway.”

“If this is going to be a political exercise, count me out,” Hatch said. “If this is an exercise to really try and resolve the amnesty issues, if it’s an exercise to really really try and resolve these critical issues, I can be counted in.”

“Maybe I don’t mean that much in this debate, but if you look at some of the major sections of this bill, I helped work them out and I’ll help work out this bill not only with colleagues on this side but with colleagues on the other side of Capitol Hill. And I don’t want to be stiffed at this time and I’m not the kind of guy who takes stiffing lightly,” Hatch warned.

Senator Chuck Schumer: “Illegal immigration will be a thing of the past.”

June 12, 2013

After the U.S. Senate voted to pass the motion to proceed to floor debate on the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) claimed that this bill would solve illegal immigration and secure the border.

“Illegal immigration will be a thing of the past,” Schumer said on the Senate floor, celebrating the passage of the motion to proceed.

Schumer complained in an impassioned and lengthy speech on the Senate floor that opponents saying the bill does not have border security “is not fair.” Schumer said giving billions of dollars to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will lead to increased border security, even if illegal immigrants are given amnesty first. He promised that assurances of future border security measures would be maintained.

Nonetheless, Schumer admitted the bill “is not perfect.” He pleaded with other senators, “If you have a better idea” on how to secure the border “tell us.” Though Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have offered outlines of amendments that would improve the border security provisions in the bill, Schumer did not say he would support them.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) (Left) and Sen. Marko Rubio (R-Fla) (Right)

Schumer said the Gang of Eight would not compromise by conditioning the path to citizenship on “factors that may not ever happen” like border security. He complained that border security should not be used as a “bargaining chip.”

And while Schumer claims the bill fixes enforcement issues, he also dismissed border security as not a pressing concern.

“We don’t have a problem whereby these people [illegal immigrants] are besieging us with terrorist acts,” Schumer said.

Schumer also said he has been to the border with other Gang of Eight senators and said, “it’s huge.”


Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona has discussed immigration with President Obama.

By BURGESS  EVERETT | 6/7/13 12:17 PM EDT Updated: 6/7/13 3:29 PM EDT

John Cornyn’s amendment to dramatically alter the border security language of  the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill is a solo effort after all.

After the office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said earlier this week that the  pair had been working together “for weeks,” both senators agreed on Thursday  that the amendment is Cornyn’s and Cornyn’s alone. But Rubio indicated he may  support the minority whip’s amendment, calling it a “very reasonable position”  and a “positive step forward.”

“I did not author that amendment, there shouldn’t be any  confusion about it. I haven’t even seen the full amendment,” Rubio said. “We’ve  been working with Senator Cornyn. His amendment is his amendment. I’ve  definitely talked to Sen. Cornyn because he’s a member of Judiciary, and because  he lives on the border.”

(PHOTOS: At a glance: The Senate immigration  deal)

Rubio’s office quickly contacted POLITICO after it published a story about a massive amendment the Texas senator plans to  offer on the Senate floor next week to say that Rubio’s staff “has been working  with Cornyn for weeks on this amendment.”

Cornyn voted against the bill in committee and wrote in a Dallas Morning News  op-ed that unless the  bill’s “flaws are corrected” that he would not be able to support the bill.

Rubio “recognizes that the bill as currently written can’t get 60 votes. And  he’s interested in actually getting something done. And I think he recognizes  something like my amendment is going to be necessary in order to get the bill  out of the Senate and accepted by the House,” said Cornyn. “We’re working toward  the same goal but again this is something that we generated independently in our  office.”

(PHOTOS: 20 quotes on immigration reform)

The Florida senator, a prominent member of the Gang of Eight, said that the  language is similar to what Rubio has pitched in media appearances. But Cornyn’s  office pushed back against the suggestion the language is being drafted with  Rubio, and Cornyn himself said Rubio’s office got ahead of their boss.

“We have not worked with him at all,” Cornyn told POLITICO. “I think some of  his staff got out in front of him. He actually hadn’t seen it when the news  broke.”

Cornyn’s amendment will strengthen apprehension and surveillance along the  border as well as beef up border security spending. He said in an interview that  Rubio and the other bipartisan Gang members are going to need something like his  language to make the overall bill, which is expected to hit the floor next week,  attractive to conservatives. The amendment text is still being drafted, but  Cornyn has released a broad outline of what changes he will push.

Rubio acknowledged that the bill still needs changes on its border security  title, calling the Senate Judiciary Committee-passed portion of the bill a “good  starting point.” And though he couldn’t yet say that he will support Cornyn’s  provisions, he indicated it may be a reasonable approach.

“What he’s asking for, which is a real way to measure border security and  hopefully specifics on border security, is something that I think will get this  bill where it needs to be,” Rubio said, adding that he isn’t sure whether he  will submit any amendments and may leave that responsibility more senior  lawmakers.

Though the two offices may not have been on the same page earlier this week,  they are now in harmony on one thing: Cornyn’s measure will challenge Democrats  to makes further compromises in order to get something done.

“Unfortunately we see the true motives of Senate Democrats who are dismissing  a plan for border security before they have even seen the text,” said a Cornyn  aide.

“It would be a mistake for Democrats to reject it out of hand,” echoed a  Rubio spokesman.

Read more:

Pictured: Part of the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico. Senator John Cornyn says these is too little fence between Texas and Mexico and immigrants can come to the United States any time they want.

Workers pass through a fence on the border.

Tough new border security plans needed?

McConnell on Immigration: Gang of Eight has done its work but the bill needs to be amended

June 12, 2013

McConnell: “I’m going to need more than an assurance from Secretary Napolitano.”

By Daniel Harper

In a statement on the Senate floor this morning, Republican leader Mitch McConnell signaled he’d vote for cloture for the immigration bill. But he also suggested the bill needs to be amended.

“The Gang of Eight has done its work. Now it’s time for the Gang of 100 to do its work — for the entire Senate to have its say on this issue, and see if we can do something to improve the status quo. At the risk of stating the obvious, this bill has serious flaws,” McConnell said, then suggesting he’d vote for cloture, the motion to proceed.

“I’ll vote to debate it and for the opportunity to amend it, but in the days ahead there will need to be major changes to this bill if it’s going to become law. These include, but are not limited to, the areas of border security, government benefits, and taxes.”

McConnell then says he’ll look to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for more than an “assurance”:

“I’m going to need more than an assurance from Secretary Napolitano, for instance, that the border is secure to feel comfortable about the situation on the border. Too often recently, we have been reminded that as government grows it becomes less responsible to the American people, and fails to perform basic functions either through incompetence or willful disregard of the wishes of Congress. Our continued failure to secure major portions of the border not only makes true immigration reform far more difficult; it presents an urgent threat to national security.


 Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

“Some have also criticized this bill for its cost to taxpayers. It’s a fair critique. Those who were here illegally shouldn’t have their unlawful status rewarded with benefits and tax credits. So this bill has some serious flaws. And we need to be serious about fixing them. The goal here should be to make the status quo better, not worse. And that’s what the next few weeks are about: they’re about giving the entire Senate, and indeed, the entire country, an opportunity to weigh in on this debate, to make their voices heard, and try to improve our immigration policy. And that means an open amendment process.

“But let me be clear: doing nothing about a problem we all acknowledge isn’t a solution. It’s an avoidance strategy. And the longer we wait to have this debate, as difficult as it is, the harder it’ll be to solve the problem.

“We tried to do something six years ago, and didn’t succeed. We may not succeed this time either. But attempting to solve tough problems in a serious and deliberate manner is precisely what the Senate, at its best, should do. And it’s what we’re going to try to do in this debate.”


June 11, 2013

The Senate’s landmark immigration bill passed a key procedural test on Tuesday, the first step on a long road for it to become law.

The Senate voted on an overwhelming, bipartisan basis — 82-15 — to limit debate on the motion to proceed to the bill. Later in the afternoon, senators voted 84-15 to proceed to the bill.

In layman’s terms, that means the Senate debate on the bill will officially begin. Now, senators can give floor speeches and offer amendments to the legislation.

See Also: Everything You Need To Know About Immigration Reform

June will be a busy month, it seems: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that he wants to wrap up debate and vote on the bill by the July 4 recess.

Immigrants to the U.S.

Compared to legislative failures in 2007 and 2010, the odds that this immigration bill passes look better, but are still not guaranteed. Pro-reform advocates were encouraged by the large number of senators on both sides of the aisle who voted yes. The original test vote received 82 aye votes when 60 were needed.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Obama threw his full weight behind the bill during a speech at the White House. He prodded both Republicans and Democrats to support the measure, calling it “the best chance we’ve had in years to address this problem.”

“To truly deal with this issue, Congress needs to act,” he said. “And that moment is now.”

PHOTO: Members of United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, wearing caps and gowns hold their fists in the air on the steps of the Senate to call for immigration reform on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

Members of United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, wearing caps and gowns hold their fists in the air on the steps of the Senate to call for immigration reform on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.  Bill Clark/Roll Call, Getty Images

But challenges lie ahead that could make its road to passage more difficult in the Senate. Many Republicans who voted to proceed to debate on Tuesday said they are uncommitted to supporting the Gang of Eight’s immigration plan on a final vote.

“Today’s vote isn’t a final judgment of their product as much as it is a recognition of the problem,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor on Tuesday.

With 54 seats, Democrats will need to attract at least a handful of Republican senators to acquire 60 votes, the number needed to avoid a filibuster of the final vote of the bill.  The bill’s authors have hoped to attract more than 60 votes to urge the House to act.

Beyond the four Republicans on the Gang of Eight, the group that drafted the legislation, only one GOP senator has pledged her support so far: Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)

An amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has gained traction among GOP senators who are on the fence on the legislation. The proposal would implement stricter border security benchmarks before immigrants who are granted temporary legal status can apply for legal permanent residence.

A border crossing between the U.S. and Mexico

McConnell, who voted to proceed, told reporters on Tuesday that he wants to see changes to the bill’s border security language and government benefits clauses before he can support it.

“Sen. Cornyn, in my view, has got the key amendment to put us in a position where we could actually look at the American people with a straight face and say, ‘We are going to secure the border,'” he said.

But top Democrats have come out against the amendment, saying it could further impede undocumented immigrants from obtaining permanent status after the a 10-year wait that’s already included in the Senate bill.

Reid called the measure a “poison pill” during a Univision interview this weekend. In his speech, Obama did not reference the amendment, but he called the current bill the “the biggest commitment to border security in our nation’s history.”

“Now, this bill isn’t perfect. It’s a compromise,” Obama added. ‘And going forward, nobody is going to get everything that they want — not Democrats, not Republicans, not me. But this is a bill that’s largely consistent with the principles that I and the people on this stage have laid out for common-sense reform.”

U.S. – Mexico Border

Above: The “Gang of 8″

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tour the Nogales port of entry during their tour of the Mexico border with the United States on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Nogales, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tour the Nogales port of entry during their tour of the Mexico border with the United States on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Nogales, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Tough new border security plans needed?

While the economy continues to show signs of recovery, the size of the government’s food-stamp program is expanding. If the immigration bill passes; will there be additional costs to social programs?

Many Conservatives Don’t Trust Democrats, Obama On Immigration

May 10, 2013

By Jon Ward — Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — The official line from conservatives who oppose the immigration reform bill is that it will cost too much money.

The real reason is a total lack of trust.

According to many conservatives, the GOP’s Washington establishment is selling its soul over immigration, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) just wants to be president, President Barack Obama won’t uphold the law, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is looking to pad the Democratic voter rolls, and Latinos will still take government handouts and vote for the Democrats.

There are, to be sure, substantive policy concerns about the details of the Senate “gang of eight” bill. And some opponents may simply be playing to type to maintain their conservative credibility. Others want to prevent the bipartisan legislation from moving to the left. But these five objections the right has articulated suggest that some think the best outcome may be no bill at all:

1. Republicans on Capitol Hill just want to make a deal, so they’ll take anything.

“My concern is that politically right now there is so much pressure on Republicans to essentially go along with anything when it comes to an immigration plan, whether it’s one that makes sense or one that doesn’t, just for the future of the party,” said Ben Domenech, a fellow at the Heartland Institute, while interviewing Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint. “That pressure is being brought in a huge way.”

After interviewing Rubio on his radio program Thursday, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said, “Most of the Republican Party is motivated totally only by politics. They’re buying hook, line and sinker — from the Democrats and the media — ‘You guys better reach out to Hispanics or you’re never gonna win anything! You better make the Hispanics like you.’”

U.S. – Mexico Border

2. Marco Rubio just wants to be president.

“He says that he’s not motivated politically, and that’s fine,” Limbaugh remarked Thursday, and then chuckled. Limbaugh clearly didn’t believe Rubio’s protestations that he is not thinking about running for president in 2016. Nobody does.

“Obviously he has a lot of personal interest in this thing,” said DeMint, the former South Carolina senator whose endorsement of Rubio in the 2010 GOP primary helped to get the 41-year-old Floridian elected.

It’s notable that Limbaugh, Mark Levin and others in the conservative talk radio world have remained friendly toward Rubio overall. Perhaps their admiration for Rubio will keep them from slamming the bill with the same vehemence and frequency as they did the 2007 effort, and that might make the difference between a tough road to passage and outright failure. Yet even if the right thinks highly of Rubio, some also think the senator’s ambition is being manipulated by Schumer — like Rubio, a member of the Senate “gang of eight” that negotiated a bipartisan bill.

“Schumer managed to hold Rubio and win his grudging respect, while selling him a lopsided deal,” wrote National Review editor Rich Lowry. “Rubio traded amnesty — although he refuses to call it that — for an enforcement plan and a commission to be named later.”

3. President Obama won’t enforce the parts of the law that are important to conservatives.

“I don’t know how we get anything good dealing with the president we have,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said this past week. “This is not a legislative problem. This is a problem with an executive who has defied his own oath of office and will not enforce the law.”

The Obama administration is officially deporting more undocumented immigrants than the George W. Bush administration did, but the story behind those numbers actually shows less vigorous enforcement, according to anti-immigration groups, Republican congressmen, and a union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who said the administration is “manipulating arrest and deportation data.”

Limbaugh claims that if the immigration bill were to pass, Democrats would then try to give the newly legalized immigrants the right to vote.

“Within two months, Senator Schumer and the Democrats are gonna run to the microphones and cameras and they’re gonna start tugging at people’s heartstrings by saying, ‘How in the world can we be so cruel as to not let them vote? We’ve just legalized them. We’ve just welcomed them to our country. We’ve just created a pathway to citizenship for them. They are paying taxes, and they’re working. It’s unconscionable that they can’t vote.’ And, voila! They’ll be able to vote,” Limbaugh said.

Currently, only U.S. citizens — and not legal non-citizen residents — can vote in federal elections.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has some words for the President of the United States

4. Chuck Schumer is using Rubio to gain the Democratic Party millions of new voters.

“The only thing the other side wants out of this is they want citizens, voters and union members, and they’re not trying to help you with those things to fix our system and keep this happening again,” DeMint said.

DeMint contends that Latinos who are U.S. citizens, and therefore can vote, don’t care that much about the immigration issue.

“It’s naïve for Republicans to think that if they pass this big amnesty bill, that it’s going to win the votes for them from Hispanics. That’s not why Hispanics didn’t vote for us. Immigration reform is a very low priority for naturalized American citizens, for Hispanic Americans. What they want are jobs and opportunities,” DeMint said.

A border crossing between the U.S. and Mexico

Of course, Republicans in favor of reform are not saying that passing a bill will automatically win the party Latino votes. The argument is simply that it will gain the party a fresh hearing with Latino voters, who have heard the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from Republicans during past immigration debates.

DeMint agreed that Hispanic voters “don’t believe Republicans care about them.” But he said he thinks that conservatives can change that perception without an immigration bill.

“The Democrat Party, the Obama machine, has done a good job community-organizing, getting people registered to vote, getting them out to vote, and just showing up in their communities. That’s what we’re going to do at Heritage,” DeMint said. “We’re going to lead the conservative movement to show up, to be a part of the communities, to focus on those issues that are why people came here in the first place: jobs and opportunities, a better quality of life.”

Showing up is always good, but explaining opposition to immigration reform within any Latino community is far easier said than done.

5. Latinos will only vote for Democrats, and they will overburden the social safety net.

“So many people are scared to death, Senator, that the Republican Party is committing suicide, that we’re going to end up legalizing 9 million automatic Democrat voters, and that’s why the Democrats are so adamant,” Limbaugh told Rubio.

Despite the fact that the Senate bill would not give federal benefits to immigrants during a probationary period of several years, Limbaugh also suggested that most Latinos will become a burden on American taxpayers because they don’t really believe in prosperity through self-reliance and free markets.

“I see polling data again that suggests that 70 percent of the Hispanic population in the country believes that government is the primary source of prosperity. I don’t, therefore, understand this contention that Hispanics are conservatives-in-waiting,” Limbaugh said. “If everything you do is ‘outreach’ to Hispanics, how do you ever tell ‘em no? If the objective is to make Hispanics like you and you turn yourself into Santa Claus, then how do you turn yourself into Scrooge someday when you have to? You can’t.”

Rubio’s argument to his fellow conservatives is that the millions of undocumented immigrants are individuals, not a monolithic bloc, who can be persuaded; that Latinos, by and large, share many convictions with American conservatives; and that the GOP should help fix the immigration problem and then robustly make its case to this group in the belief that its ideas have merit and appeal.

“I’m not prepared to admit that somehow there’s this entire population of people that, because of their heritage, are not willing to listen to our pitch on why limited government is better,” Rubio told Limbaugh. “I just refuse to accept the notion that somehow we’re not gonna be able to make that argument successfully to Hispanics.”

Limbaugh was not convinced, but he seemed to sound a note of discouragement about the chances of defeating an immigration reform bill.

“The forces arrayed to oppose this on ideological grounds seem to be vastly outnumbered and overwhelmed. The fact that what happened to California could happen to the country doesn’t seem to matter to a lot of people,” Limbaugh said.

Similarly, King told HuffPost that currently there are not enough votes in the House to defeat an immigration bill.

“They’re not here yet,” King said. “The American people need to wake up to what’s going on.” s-immigration-reform_n_3127560.html


Above: The “Gang of 8″

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tour the Nogales port of entry during their tour of the Mexico border with the United States on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Nogales, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tour the Nogales port of entry during their tour of the Mexico border with the United States on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Nogales, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Tough new border security plans needed?

While the economy continues to show signs of recovery, the size of the government’s food-stamp program is expanding. If the immigration bill passes; will there be additional costs to social programs?

Arizona Governor: Federal Border With Mexico is “The Gateway for the Criminal Element”

April 22, 2013

Governor of the state of Arizona has some words for the President of the United States

As the Senate moves to consider the “Gang of 8” immigration reform bill, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is calling on the federal government to do more to secure her state’s border, which she refers to as “the gateway for the criminal element.”

Brewer says the federal government has given increased security resources, ranging from electronic surveillance to fencing, to other border states, while ignoring such requests for Arizona.

A border crossing between the U.S. and Mexico

“We don’t understand why the federal government will do that for other states, but they refuse to do it in Arizona,” Brewer says in an interview with ABC’s Senior National Correspondent Jim Avila. “I am not going to sit back and be the governor of the state of Arizona and not make a position for Arizona to the federal government that our border needs to be secured. It’s as simple as that.”

The “Gang of 8” bill now before the Senate promises to provide more resources for border security, if passed, but Brewer says she won’t be supportive of the legislation, which also provides a path to citizenship for the estimated 10-12 million people currently living in the United States illegally, until she and ranchers living along the border are convinced the border is secure.

“They had a good relationship with immigrants coming across working on their ranches and going back and um very comfortable…and things have changed,” Brewer says of the ranchers along the border. “They don’t feel safe, they feel very insecure. They don’t believe that the border is secured, their wives, their children, they’re very, very guarded.”

When asked how she would reply if a one of the “Gang of 8” senators were to call her, Brewer replies: “If they were to call me today, I would say our border is not secure, and I would not be in a position to support their measure.”

To hear more of the interview with the governor of Arizona, including her explanation on why she believes those people who came to the United States should be labeled as “illegal immigrants,” check out this episode of Power Players.

ABC’s Serena Marshall and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.


Above: The “Gang of 8”

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tour the Nogales port of entry during their tour of the Mexico border with the United States on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Nogales, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tour the Nogales port of entry during their tour of the Mexico border with the United States on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Nogales, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Tough new border security plans needed?