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  • Article: Will electing one of the democratic presidential hopefuls move us closer to the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill? By Nolan Rappaport

    Will electing one of the democratic presidential hopefuls move us closer to the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill?

    by


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    Reprinted with permission.


    About The Author

    Nolan Rappaport was an immigration counsel on the House Judiciary Committee. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals. He also has been a policy advisor for the DHS Office of Information Sharing and Collaboration under a contract with TKC Communications, and spent time in private practice as an immigration lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson. He is retired now, but he welcomes part time and temporary work.


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

    Comments 6 Comments
    1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
      ImmigrationLawBlogs -
      Nolan's article is an excellent and comprehensive summary of where the various Democratic presidential candidates stand on immigration. However, he dismisses most or all of their proposals, no matter how sensible or well thought out, with the routine statement, amounting almost to the equivalent of a robocall message, that the Democratic proposals are ineffective because they will not meet the Republicans' "political needs". What are those needs exactly? Are they genuine needs or just campaign slogans to use as an excuse for blocking reform and continuing the status quo?

      It would be helpful if Nolan could discuss what these Republican political needs are in more detail. He says that they are "border security" and "internal enforcement", both of which must be "in place" before we can have any movement toward reform in the sense of legalization or more liberal legal immigration quotas and requirements. What does "in place" mean? Does it mean a Donald Trump - style Berlin Wall along the Mexican border? Does it mean mass deportation of 11 million mainly Latino and Asian men, women and children, similar to the mass expulsions of the Jews from Rome in the time of Emperor Donald Claudius Trump 2,000 years ago?

      And what about birthright citizenship, which Trump wants to abolish for US-born Latino children and Jeb Bush wants to do away with for US-born Asian ones? Is tearing up the 14th Amendment, birthright citizenship guarantee a legitimate Republican political need which Democrats should try to accommodate? Some specifics, please, Nolan.

      Roger Algase
      Attorney at Law
    1. Retired INS's Avatar
      Retired INS -
      You blame Republicans for not backing your Fairness Act, but reform could have been achieved with President Bush if more Democrats had backed his plan. I was told it was one vote from passage when the bottom fell out of it. Democrats did not want to give a Republican President credit for an immigration bill. Senator Rubio had a good proposal that went nowhere. He has dropped the idea because he cannot convince Republican voters it is a good idea. Part of the problem is that both political parties tell lies about the other party. Nobody knows what is true and what is fiction when it comes to immigration issues. The 1996 bill was by far the worst immigration bill passed by Congress. I am a very conservative Republican, but after working 39 years in immigration, I know what the problems are. They cannot be solved by a fence or doing away with birthright citizenship. I disagree with Donald Trump on every issue, but I still like the way he goes after political correctness. Maybe if Democrats didn't try so hard to be politically correct they could get more support.
    1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
      Nolan Rappaport -
      Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs View Post
      Nolan's article is an excellent and comprehensive summary of where the various Democratic presidential candidates stand on immigration. However, he dismisses most or all of their proposals, no matter how sensible or well thought out, with the routine statement, amounting almost to the equivalent of a robocall message, that the Democratic proposals are ineffective because they will not meet the Republicans' "political needs". What are those needs exactly? Are they genuine needs or just campaign slogans to use as an excuse for blocking reform and continuing the status quo?"
      Roger Algase
      Attorney at Law
      Roger seems to have missed the point of my article, which is explained in the first two paragraphs. I will try to make it easier to understand. Let's suppose that every position the democrats take on immigration issues is absolutely correct in every respect. Suppose further that nothing the republicans say about immigration makes any sense at all. Where does that get you, Roger? Right and wrong don't make any difference in this situation. YOU CAN'T GET A BILL THROUGH CONGRESS WITHOUT REPUBLICAN SUPPORT, EVEN ONE THAT IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT IN EVERY RESPECT. And that doesn't mean getting 30% of the senate republicans to vote for your bill when the other 70% of the senate republicans vote against it, certainly not when the republicans have control in the house. If the republicans insist that the democrats wear kilts and play bag pipes while the floor vote is being taken on a comprehensive immigration reform bill, that's what the dems will have to do if they want comprehensive immigration reform.

      In the second paragraph, I provide an example of a bill that met the needs of both parties, IRCA, and I set forth the basic republican demand in the first full paragraph of the second page with my reference to the wipe-the-slate-clean IRCA deal. The footnote to the reference provides a link to the article I wrote in which I explain this more fully. In fact, I provide links to five articles I have written on topics discussed in this article. The additional detail Roger wants can be found in those articles.
    1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
      Nolan Rappaport -
      Quote Originally Posted by Retired INS View Post
      You blame Republicans for not backing your Fairness Act, but reform could have been achieved with President Bush if more Democrats had backed his plan. I was told it was one vote from passage when the bottom fell out of it. Democrats did not want to give a Republican President credit for an immigration bill. Senator Rubio had a good proposal that went nowhere. He has dropped the idea because he cannot convince Republican voters it is a good idea. Part of the problem is that both political parties tell lies about the other party. Nobody knows what is true and what is fiction when it comes to immigration issues. The 1996 bill was by far the worst immigration bill passed by Congress. I am a very conservative Republican, but after working 39 years in immigration, I know what the problems are. They cannot be solved by a fence or doing away with birthright citizenship. I disagree with Donald Trump on every issue, but I still like the way he goes after political correctness. Maybe if Democrats didn't try so hard to be politically correct they could get more support.
      I didn't intend to "blame" the republicans for not backing the Fairness Act. The underlying reality is that congressmen aren't advocating their own views. They are representing the views of the people who voted them into office. Thats what it means to talk about political need. They may not do this as faithfully as their constituents think they should, but that's a different issue. If Senator Rubio wanted to sell his proposal, he needed to find a way to convince the other congressmen that it would please their constituents, not that it was a "good" proposal. Of course, it has to be "good" too, or at least not appear to be a terrible idea, but that isn't enough unless the voters don't care about it, which is not the case with immigration bills. Same with respect to solving problems. Solutions have to be acceptable to the constituents of the members you are trying to get support from.

      I don't agree with Trump either, but he is very shrewd politically. He is taking positions and making statements that people like. Hopefully not enough people to get him elected, but I wouldn't rule out that possibility.

      I don't know of any bills that were one vote from passage. What bill are you talking about?
    1. Retired INS's Avatar
      Retired INS -
      Officially, there were no bills one vote short of passing regarding immigration. However, I was in a high enough management position to know what was happening behind the scenes. President Bush was one vote short when someone else backed out. When word of the back-out got around, many other Republicans backed out of supporting the bill. As you said, Congressmen fear their voters. Nobody was going to support a bill that would not pass.

      My daughter was press secretary for the Utah Congressman who first introduced the Dream Act in the House. A few years later he was defeated in a Republican primary because Congressman Tancredo of Colorado lobbied against him and told lies about immigration law. I often spoke with Congressman Cannon before his defeat. He claimed Mr. Tancredo knew the truth, but preferred to spread lies because they are easier to sell to voters.
    1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
      Nolan Rappaport -
      [QUOTE. My daughter was press secretary for the Utah Congressman who first introduced the Dream Act in the House. A few years later he was defeated in a Republican primary because Congressman Tancredo of Colorado lobbied against him and told lies about immigration law. I often spoke with Congressman Cannon before his defeat. He claimed Mr. Tancredo knew the truth, but preferred to spread lies because they are easier to sell to voters.[/QUOTE]

      I was a judiciary counsel for seven years. I don't know the situation you are talking about, but I do know that members typically read from talking points or statements their staffers wrote and don't necessarily know anything about whatever it is they are talking about. They are expected to talk about too many subjects to know something about all of them. This is particularly likely with immigration law. It is extremely complicated. Tancredo may have been lying or he may just have read things an ignorant staffer had prepared for him.
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