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Editor

The following posts have been selected by the editors. These posts include articles about Hoover scholars but not written by them. Others are about the Hoover Institution or this site.

 

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The prospects for a bipartisan immigration bill in the House of Representatives took a turn for the worst when House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte was reported as “flatly opposing” a path to citizenship, even for so-called DREAMers. However, it still appears as though Chairman Goodlatte will continue to push piecemeal legislation through the House when Congress returns from the August recess. If legislation moves along that path, the Senate will have the opportunity to negotiate with the House as early as this fall.

Meanwhile, the August recess town hall meetings members are conducting are less intense than expected. Activists, for and against, the bill are using the meetings in order make themselves heard. Thus far the pressure hasn’t been reported enough to make House Republicans who were initially supportive of immigration reform back off from their efforts. Some studies are even bolstering support for immigration reform on the grounds of economic stimulus, both low-skilled and high-skilled.

Both sides of the aisle continue to push their agendas and measure public support. Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez claims enough votes to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the House, if only it were put to a vote. And Republicans have a big conference call coming up where members will relay what they’ve heard from their constituents over the break.

 

In The News: August Recess Update

 

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The House and the Senate are in recess until Wednesday, September 9th. The Senate passed its version of the bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act on June 27 by a 68-32 vote. Many Republicans voted for the bill with the caveat that their vote was preliminary in order to move the process along, and that they would revisit the legislation when it inevitably came back to the Senate.

The House began immigration proceedings soon after, but did not complete its work before the summer recess. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte wavered between packing the House’s version of immigration into a comprehensive bill and splitting up the bills to consider and pass them in a piecemeal fashion.

Two weeks ago, news leaked that Chairman Goodlatte had put together an “immigration resource kit” for GOP members of the House that contained briefings on the various parts of immigration reform and seemed to confirm his decision to take a piecemeal approach. Confirming what many had predicted about the House’s approach, it preferred border security before any sort of legalization or pathway to citizenship and was receptive to high-skilled immigration reform and some version of the DREAM Act.

So far, five bills have been passed out of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees concerning border security, interior enforcement, agricultural workers, high-skilled visas, and E-Verify requirements. Only the border security bill had some semblance of bipartisan support.

The August recess that members are on now will partly determine whether the House will continue its immigration efforts. Activists on both sides are planning to lobby members during town hall meetings. When members come back in September, other legislative issues stand in their way, including another debt-ceiling fight. Prospects for reform looked better when the estimated timetable for completion was before the August recess: we should know by late September whether immigration reform is likely to continue.

Many thought that by taking a piecemeal approach, the House had doomed immigration reform by rejecting the Senate’s comprehensive bill. Senator Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate Gang of Eight, has publicly stated that is not the case. If the House passes a series of bills that address all the issues included in comprehensive reform, then the Senate and the House will have common ground to work with during conference committee.

One main challenge ahead is the treatment of the eleven million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. The Senate bill gave them a pathway to citizenship in the form of a thirteen-year wait through a Registered Provisional Status. The House looks like it will delay any form of legalization until two things happen: first, the border must be “secure” by whatever definition they agree on; second, all noncitizens currently in line for permanent resident status obtain their green cards before any currently undocumented immigrants do so.

Our own Lanhee Chen has written a column summarizing where things stand today.

 

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Former Secretary of State and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Condoleezza Rice released a report and an op-ed today in conjunction with the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Immigration, where she is a co-chair. Her op-ed, titled “The way forward on immigration” was co-written with the co-chairs of the BPC’s immigration task force, Henry Cisneros, Ed Rendell, and Haley Barbour. The BPC also released a statement titled “Room for Consensus.”

She writes: “As the debate continues, we must avoid making the perfect the enemy of the good: Our current system is fundamentally flawed and broken. If we can focus on where there is agreement and then work conscientiously to narrow our differences, then real and durable reform is possible.”

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Edward Lazear, Hoover Institution Senior Fellow and Chairman of the Conte Initiative on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, appeared  on BloombergTV about the Senate immigration bill and the priorities he would like the see the House address when it considers the legislation. Click here to watch the interview.

 

 

Hoover Senior Fellow Edward Lazear writes in the Wall Street Journal about the point system in the Senate immigration bill and how the House can fix and improve the bill:

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“Compared with the system in place now, the Senate’s immigration reform is a big improvement. But the bill has flaws that make it less likely that the people with the most to contribute to U.S. society can get here legally. Still, the flaws can be fixed by the House.”

 

 

Click here to read more.

 

Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Gary Becker weighs in on the Senate immigration bill:

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“The Senate immigration bill before the House of Representatives is the most thorough overhaul of the approach to illegal immigrants in a long time. That is a major step mainly in the right direction. The bill also expands the number of skilled immigrants who can enter if they have enough ‘points’ in a new merit-based system for admitting 250,000 immigrants annually. Although the bill on the whole should be applauded, it misses the opportunity to truly ease the entry of legal immigrants.” 

 

Click here to read more.

 

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Hoover Research Fellow, Clint Bolick, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, in the Wall Street Journal, presented the Republican case for passing comprehensive immigration reform in the House of Representatives.  They argue that a failure to vote for comprehensive reform is actually a vote for the very policy realities a Republican would never support: stalled growth, incentives for illegal immigration, and a porous border.  Bolick and Bush conclude with items the House can further bolster making reform even stronger.

 

You can read the article at the Wall Street Journal here or check it out at the Hoover Institution’s website here.

 

 

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Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released its estimates of the immigration bill’s budgetary and economic impacts. Notably, it found that the Senate’s S.744 bill would cut the budget by $197 billion in the first decade and $700 billion in the second decade. GDP would grow by 3.3% in the first decade, and the labor force would increase by six million people. The U.S. population would grow by 10 million people in the first ten years as a result of the bill.

Opponents of the bill point out that the CBO estimated wages would drop 0.1% in the first ten years, although wages increase by 0.3% in the second ten years according to the report.

The Senate continues to consider amendments, waiting to vote on the bill sometime later this week. Last Tuesday it passed two and rejected two. Not surprisingly, the follow up to the Cornyn amendment that was defeated, put forward by Sens. Hoeven and Corker, does not have the support of Senator Cornyn.

News coming out of the House of Representatives suggest troubled times ahead for immigration reform, even when the vote count in the Senate looks like it will exceed 70 votes. Senator Paul called the bill “already dead” in the House, which may conflict with Representative Goodlatte, ranking chairman in the House Judiciary Committee, and his plans to break the bill into separate pieces. Expect the focus to turn to the House once the Senate finishes considering amendments. Some lobbying groups are already turning their focus there, including the Chamber of Commerce, which introduced an ad in support of the bill featuring Representative Paul Ryan.

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Edward Lazear, Hoover Institution Senior Fellow and Chairman of the Conte Initiative on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, was interviewed on Bloomberg TV about the immigration bill. Click here to watch Lazear talk about border security, overstays by formerly-legal immigrants, the economic benefits of the bill, and the priorities he’d like the House and Senate to pay attention to when crafting the bill.