Monday, December 9, 2013
By DAVID ESPO and ERICA WERNER / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
People shout out against the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act in the hall outside the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.
The Associated Press
Jackelin Alfaro, 4, in a T-shirt that reads "Don't Deport my Dad," sits in the hall with family members outside the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.
The Associated Press
Democrats have previously been unwilling to consider proposals along those lines, arguing they could postpone legalization for years if not longer. As drafted, the bill gives the government six months to develop a plan to achieve border security, but does not hold up legalization while it is being tested for effectiveness.
It was unclear what, if any, compromise is possible on that point. Agreement would greatly increase the bill's chances for passage with a large bipartisan vote.
The measure was drafted by a bipartisan Gang of Eight and represents a series of political trade-offs among senators as well as outside groups like business and labor, growers and farm workers. In addition to border security and a path to citizenship, it includes an expanded number of visas for highly skilled workers prized by the technology industry and a new program for low-skilled workers. It also features a top-to-bottom overhaul of a decades-old system for parceling out visas to future legal immigrants, reducing the importance of family ties while emphasizing education, job skills and youth.
Broad in its scope, the bill calls for new judges, prosecutors and other officials to handle cases involving immigration law. At the same time, it would require the government to pay for legal representation, if necessary, for unaccompanied children caught up in such cases, as well as for adults determined to be legally incompetent because of a serious mental disability.
Any talk of compromise in the House appeared distant as Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sought to reassure conservatives who have expressed fears he will allow legislation to come up this summer that they oppose and Democrats support.
One official who attended the closed-door meeting quoted the Ohio Republican as saying he has no intention of allowing a bill to come up that would violate the principles of the GOP majority and split its ranks. The speaker also made clear that legislation must satisfy Republican concerns about border security, according to the official.
At roughly the same time, Goodlatte gaveled the Judiciary Committee to order, and more than a dozen protesters who had been seated in the hearing room stood up and began clapping and chanting, "Shame, shame, shame! More of the same!" They were ushered out but their cries could still be heard in the hallway and committee proceedings were briefly interrupted.
The bill was the first on immigration to move through the committee this year, but hardly the opening salvo from conservatives who hold sway in the House.
Two weeks ago, the House voted to overturn Obama's 2012 election year announcement that he was suspending deportation of many immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.