Inertia on immigration reform riles Dems

Democrats are hitting back at Speaker John Boehner’s statement today that the House won’t take up a comprehensive immigration reform bill before this year’s end.

NBC Latino reports Boehner, R-Ohio, was eating breakfast at a Washington diner this morning when he was approached by two children of immigrants who urged House action.

“I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done,” he reportedly told them. “It’s as you know, not easy, not going to be an easy path forward but I made it clear since the day after the election, it’s time to get this done.”

Later this morning, Boehner wouldn’t set a timeline, but rather said Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is working with Democrats to develop a set of principles “for us to deal with this issue.” He also said the House has “no intention of ever going to conference” on S.744, the bipartisan bill that the Senate passed in June on a 68-32 vote.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, replied to Boehner with a tweet this morning:

Pelosi tweet

H.R. 15 is the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” introduced last month by Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla. It mostly mirrors the Senate bill, but replaces the Senate’s border-security plan with a different one authored by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and approved unanimously by the Homeland Security Committee.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, the senior Democrat on Judiciary’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, spoke about Boehner’s comments during today’s committee hearing on an automated, biometrics-based entry-exit system to track the entry and exit of all travelers to and from the United States.

“Before I close, let me just say, how disappointed I was to hear the news that the House is not intending to consider immigration bills before the end of the year. I think we have a historic opportunity before us to work together to improve our immigration laws. I thank the Chairman of the [Immigration] Subcommittee [Rep. Trey Gowdy] for his kind comments about myself and Mr. [Luis] Gutierrez. I am mindful that we did not do immigration reform in a comprehensive way when we had the majority as Democrats. We were actually, in the House, deferring to the Senate hoping that they could have bipartisan agreement. They ultimately failed. The gentleman was not a Member of that Congress, but we did pass the DREAM Act when Democrats were in the majority, and it fell short in the Senate.

“I just believe that we can put our hands across the aisle and work together to improve our laws. I would hope the spirit and intent to do that has not faded on the part of the majority [Republicans]. Certainly I would hope to continue to work with the majority to solve this problem for our country.”

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior administration officials met this morning at the White House with faith leaders to discuss the importance of passing immigration reform.

“The leaders expressed their concerns over the impact the broken immigration system is having on families throughout their congregations,” according to the White House’s readout of the meeting. “The President and the leaders discussed their shared commitment to raise the moral imperative for immigration reform and said they will continue keeping the pressure on Congress so they can swiftly pass commonsense reform.”

Obama commended the faith leaders for their efforts, and “noted there is no reason for House Republicans to continue to delay action on this issue that has garnered bipartisan support,” the readout said. “It would show the American people that Washington can still work together to solve our nation’s challenges.”

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, last month was the first House Republican to sign onto H.R. 15; others who’ve done so since then include Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford. They and certain other California Republicans might face tougher re-election fights next year if no action is taken on immigration reform.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Inertia? Try Milk of Magnesia for fast relief! This ain’t 1965, folks–Nancy and Zoe carry as much clout as a biodegradable burrito wrapper.

  • Elwood

    You know the proponents can’t sink any lower when they start sending children to beg while you’re eating.

  • JohnW

    Win-win issue for Dems. If reform happens, they eventually get more Democratic voters. If Repugs drag their feet, it fires up Latinos to vote Democratic.

    Repugs figure it differently. Why do reform just to make Latinos happy? They’re not going to get their votes anyway. Better just to use phony voter fraud measures to keep them from voting in the first place, and creative districting to keep the Latinos packed into a few districts.

  • Willis James

    Comprehensive immigration reform is dead this year.
    I’m for comprehensive immigration reform.
    However, I have a very uneasy feeling about the massive Senate Gang of Eight bill.
    I have zero confidence the enforcement provisions in the bill will be enforced. As we’ve seen in the ACA health care, this administration cannot be trusted to implement a program.
    BTW, I am also for the ACA.
    But no one can deny that they have been shown to be completely incompetent in running the systems to make it effective.
    Now imagine the comprehensive immigration reform rules, regulations and enforcement.
    The bill says that anyone in the country who arrived illegally after January 1st, 2012, and any new arrival without documentation will be subject to deportation.
    Frankly I don’t think this administration will make any effort to enforce the provisions of the bill they want passed.
    I don’t believe they will enforce the workplace or effectively enforce or police the employers with fines etc.
    I don’t think they have the will to do so, nor the management skills to make a effective effort.
    Lastly, future efforts to enforce the Senate bill will be met by local government’s (Oakland, San Jose, etc) refusal to cooperate.
    The political will to enforce the bill will fade in the face of political pressures.
    Tell me why my assessment is wrong.
    What will change except the law and the legalization of millions (Something I don’t object to if we get future enforcement)
    I simply don’t believe this administration can be effective.
    Management 101, and the motivation to succeed is missing as we’ve seen in recent days.

  • JohnW

    If lack of confidence in the current administration’s ability or willingness to properly enforce is your real reason for opposing legislation that you say you otherwise support, it’s not a very good reason. First, Obama has only three years to go. Enforcement will be the job of President Christie, President Clinton, President Paul or whomever takes Obama’s place. Second, more border enforcement and deportation has occurred on Obama’s watch, by far, than under any other president.

  • Willis James

    Oh don’t get me wrong, I have similar lack of faith in who ever is elected in 2016.
    BTW, I resent the phrase ” if lack of confidence…..to properly enforce is your REAL reason for opposing legislation”
    I tell you, I’d have a even more generous policy for all those currently here, even if they came after January 2012…. IF…IF only I had any faith in future enforcement.
    What I see is passage and then little difference in enforcement than what we see today.
    Your rolling out the “”more border enforcement and deportation has occurred on Obama’s watch” is a very typical retort, which means NOTHING.
    Why, because next to nothing was done in prior administrations. If you enforce only 10% and then yu boost it to 15%, you still miss 85% of the problem.
    Also what you count as deportations is wildly misleading. All those caught at the border are included.
    Tell me about deportations of any of those caught internally. Unless they have been caught for crimes, their chances of being caught and deported are about 1 in 1000.
    No one is even looking.
    Workplace enforcement is next to zero…
    Some 7 to 8 million working and work place enforcement doesn’t even catch 1%, let alone then deport them.
    It is all for show.
    You tell me, after passage of the Senate bill, if that happened, do you think Obama is really going to keep looking for anyone who got here in February of 2012.
    NO WAY….. there will be ZERO enforcement of that provision of the bill.
    No one is going to be going into the kitchens of restaurant and catching or citing workers or owners.
    That is all a dream.
    All the details are far more unlikely to be effectively enforced than we see in the ACA debacle.
    You can’t seriously there will be any real enforcement inside of the USA after a comprehensive immigration bill is passed.
    Churches and “progressive” groups will fight every enforcement just as they do today.
    Who will come to Oakland and enforce the workplace?
    Who… tell me who will do that.
    Clearly the city will not cooperate.
    Who will follow the law in the Senate bill as it pertains to Oakland?
    NO ONE, you know that. Be honest about it.
    Meanwhile everyone will cry out for lack of jobs for low income African Americans.
    Now you tell me… go look around in many occupations where low skilled workers are hired.
    How many of those fail to even look for African Americans to do the job.
    I use that example of how the Senate bill is NOT looking out for the real needs of our lower skilled, lower educated groups such as where I live in East Oakland.
    The bill will do nothing to protect long time Oakland residents from having tens of thousands come here and take the vary same jobs they might otherwise be hired for.
    That is the dark shadow of immigration reform.
    A point most often even avoided by Bay Area political leaders…. who are more intent on building coalitions and getting reelected than helping their own long time citizens find jobs.

  • JohnW

    The best border security is for Mexico’s economy to get stronger. That’s been happening. That’s one reason, along with border enforcement, that immigration from Mexico, legal or illegal, has been net zero for the past couple of years.

  • Willis James

    Far more important than anything is that the jobs picture in the USA and in California has been in the dumper for 5 years.

    Yes, more money is being made, but look at the real unemployment rates in California. Still at or above classic recession levels.

    Unemployed, plus underemployed who wish to work full time, plus a HUGE number who have given up and are no longer even counted.

    The “net zero” idea you speak about is a joke if you attribute it to a prosperous Mexico…..and not to a terrible jobs picture in the USA.

    Did you not read the following

    ” 264000 Jobs Added but 700000 Fewer Americans Employed? .”

    November 8th, 2013

    The data being used is all suspect now. The real truth is when you look at the percentage of working age adults employed.
    Far lower now and not rising.
    I’m sick and tired of all the comprehensive immigration reform advocates who keep saying we need workers to do the jobs
    Americans won’t do.
    Not only untrue, but racist.
    Prod them a little and they’ll tell you the lower skilled African Americans, with such a high rate of unemployment are lazy and don’t really want to work.
    Some of your finest progressives will secretly tell you just that and say we need to bring in more hard working low skilled workers from Mexico, Central America and elsewhere.
    The economic plight of our currently unemployed Americans is being dumped overboard to please the politically correct progressives and their big business allies in this immigration debate.
    What a ugly alliance.
    All about money and caring very little about the chronically unemployed young black men in East Oakland.
    They only get our concern when the 11:00 PM news show yet another street side memorial.
    That is the truth. No one cares.
    We can and have replaced them in our economy and we have plans to further that replacement policy.
    That is the hidden truth.
    Stop the violence…. stop the violence… and do what.
    There are NO jobs for those under educated and low skilled young men. They have been forgotten and its is the “progressive” policy (by default) to replace them with a endless supply of low skilled immigrants, legal and illegal.
    That is our policy. That is the goal of many progressives.
    But they will never admit it.
    They cannot admit they are creating dire conditions for these thousands and thousands of lost young men.
    They ignore them and their hopeless lives.
    Mean while they tell us to focus only on the hard working undocumented workers.
    That is why I don’t believe the provisions of the Senate bill will ever be enforced in any effective manner.
    The future of those young men in East Oakland is bleak.
    We will pay a huge price for cheap labor. We will pay for the cheap labor in terms of lost lives, in the courts, in prisons, in endless welfare and unworkable programs.
    That $10 per hour unskilled labor we are welcoming is really costing us $30 per hour when you add in all the hidden costs.
    Those young men in East Oakland are not going die (90% of them), so what are they going to do?
    They are not going to starve or live on the streets, so what are they going to do?
    They are not getting jobs, so what ate they going to do to survive.
    Whatever it is, its going to cost far more then we think we’re saving by bringing in cheap undocumented labor. Not even considering the lost lives.
    OK… Enough for now. Not everyone who is suspect of the Senate bill is so, because they are racist or xenophobic
    We simply don’t believe the enforcement end will ever come about..

  • JohnW

    Wow. Long message. I didn’t read the whole thing.

    You are right that the weak jobs picture this side of the border helps explain the zero net immigration. However, it is really a combination of the jobs picture on this side and the improving jobs picture on the other side.

    The historical problem with illegal immigration from South of the border has been the imbalance — strong economy and jobs on this side and horrible economy/jobs on the other side. I don’t care how many fences and guards you put along the border. Stopping illegal immigration under those conditions, is like trying to stop water from a high area from flowing into a lower area. It defies the laws of physics.

    As for the contradiction of job growth here but fewer people employed, let’s not forget 300 thousand of my generation (baby boomers) reaching 65 each month and dropping out of the work force.

  • Elwood

    What Willis James says is all too true. Thousands of young black men in Oakland (and probably elsewhere) have been made redundant by illegal immigration.

    The car wash where I go used to have workers named Lamont, Willy, Lavonte etc. Now they are all named Jose, Carlos, Rigoberto etc. Proabably not a green card among them, or if there is it is a forgery.

  • Willis James

    Yes, I agree, I did go a tad long.
    Must have been a seizure or something.
    Even I don’t want to re-read the whole thing.
    Only one more thing, lots of those 65 plus are going to need to keep working well beyond age 65. I’m talking about 30 to 35 percent of folks.
    Not all of us worked for the government.

  • Willis James

    A subject that no Bay Area political leaders are willing to speak about.
    They’ve already got the African American vote, so they needn’t address that obvious issue.
    Take a ride past any residential development. Check out how many African American construction workers are part of the crew. Again, never reported or even discussed by local news or political types.
    Yet there is drumbeat for increased immigration because we need more workers.

  • JohnW

    What you say is true. But I’m 67, and most of the people I know my age are out — voluntary or pushed. And none us were government workers.

  • JohnW

    That’s true. Latinos do seem to have the low-skill or low-tech skilled jobs. But why is that? Did employers just up and fire all the African Americans so they could hire Latinos in their place? That doesn’t seem likely, but I’ve never seen a real explanation by somebody who knew what they were talking about.

  • Willis James

    Well, in the construction industry, I’ll give you examples.
    I rode bikes for years. 4 times a week, about 100 miles a week.
    My routes would take me by individual construction sites day after day, month after month.
    You’d get to see the entire process from foundation to final painting.
    I’d stop,, observe, talk to the contractor and the subcontractors. No one was hiding anything. Everything was open and apparent.
    The contractor hires sub contractors to do most of the work.
    Depending on the work being done, the sub would have a crew of 4 to 8 guys.. Different subs for different jobs. Drywalling, tile, painting, and such.
    I passed hundreds of sites over the years and followed the progress of each as I rode by, sometimes stopping to talk.
    I know you can’t judge immigration status by language, but you do get to know what is going on and you can even ask the contractor.
    They know, everyone knows that the sub’s crews are 75% undocumented.
    They only hire similar folks on the crews.
    A African American young man is totally out of the loop, and quite frankly would never be hired even if he was known to the subcontractor.
    These crews do most of the labor on the house. A few crews, such as electrical are done by legal workers, including some whites.
    I will tell you if I passed crews comprising 1000 workers over the years in the Oakland hills, I doubt I saw more than 10 African American young men.
    That in a city with Oakland’s ethnic make up.
    They are not, they would not, they will not be hired. Everyone involved was quite happy to hire subs who brought in 75% or greater, undocumented crews.
    If you didn’t have undocumented workers you were NOT competitive in your bidding.
    Similar hiring takes place in many other areas of the local economy.
    Young African American and even middle aged African American have been outsourced, or in this case insourced in their own city.
    Again, NO ONE is hiding this. They would talk openly and just shrug their shoulders….saying what else could they do.
    No one in Oakland politics would dare address the obvious disparity.
    Instead they hold little events at street side memorials and chant or shout about the need for jobs for our young men.
    Rinse, wash, repeat.
    BTW, nothing in the Senate immigration bill will change any of this, EXCEPT to make those undocumented workers legal.
    A minor change.
    I guess then everything will be OK, except sub-contractors will then just replace the cheaper undocumented with new undocumented arrivals

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

  • JohnW

    Construction is different from other categories, because it involves skilled labor and the contractor/subcontractor dynamics you described. The use of skilled immigrant labor in that sector begets lower wages, which beget even greater reliance on immigrants.

    But how about fast food restaurants, car washes (as noted by Elwood) and other unskilled jobs? Use of immigrant labor didn’t drive down wages in those jobs. They were always minimum wage. Yet, those sectors have seen the same transformation in the work force mix that construction has experienced.