The Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph, Jan. 31, 2013
It seems like just yesterday that the Republican Party’s idea of comprehensive immigration reform consisted of electrified border fences, cracking down on ‘‘anchor babies’’ and self-deportation.
At least that’s what it sounded like during the long GOP primary campaign last year, which culminated with Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney capturing a mere 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in his failed bid to unseat President Barack Obama.
So while we can’t help but feel there is something a bit disingenuous about the party’s renewed interest in immigration reform, we welcome the contribution of four Republicans to a bipartisan group of senators committed to crafting the first major reforms to the nation’s immigration laws in a generation.
Under the proposal unveiled by representatives of the so-called ‘‘Gang of Eight,’’ the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country would be provided with a path to citizenship in conjunction with stricter border security measures.
While those are in the works, illegal immigrants would be required to register, pass a background check, and pay all fines and back taxes before earning ‘‘probationary legal status,’’ which would allow them to continue to live and work in the country.
Once the enhanced security measures are in place, those who earn probationary status would be eligible for permanent residency if they can prove they have worked in this country, learn to speak English and complete a civics course.
But this would happen only after being placed at the ‘‘back of the line,’’ that is, behind other immigrants who are already in the process of seeking a permanent residency card.
A separate path to citizenship would be established for those who were brought to the United States as children, perhaps through legislation similar to the DREAM Act, which passed the House in 2011 but was blocked by Republicans in the Senate.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for this bipartisan framework to immigration reform — actual legislation isn’t expected to be filed until March at the earliest — to come under criticism from both sides of the aisle. What’s ‘‘immigration reform’’ to one person is ‘‘shameful amnesty’’ to another.
Of course, if comprehensive reform were easy, it would have happed a long time ago. It has been 27 years since President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which ultimately granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants who had been in the country since 1982.
But the well-intended law did little to ‘‘control and deter’’ the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. The law’s call for tougher border enforcement and sanctions against businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers didn’t meet with much success either.
Two attempts at further reforms under President Bill Clinton failed to gain traction in 1996 and 2000, while President George W. Bush’s bid in his second term fell victim to rising opposition among conservatives in Congress. That included the bipartisan effort led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Given the shifting sentiment in the nation today — a recent AP-GfK Poll found that 62 percent of Americans favor providing a way for illegal immigrants already here to become U.S. citizens — it would be an absolute tragedy if this year’s effort were to meet with a similar fate.
The Boston Globe, Feb. 1, 2013
If Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Pentagon, ever harbored any doubts that he'd be confirmed, he can rest easy now that billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson is lobbying against him. Adelson, the Dorchester-born casino magnate who last year spent tens of millions of dollars backing the doomed candidacies of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, has an almost unblemished record of picking losing causes.
Yet that hasn’t stopped him from urging Republican senators to oppose Hagel, the former GOP senator from Nebraska whose bruising confirmation hearing was held Thursday. By coincidence, there is also a wave of TV commercials airing, supported by anonymous donors, targeting Democratic senators and urging them to vote against Hagel too.
This unprecedented ad campaign against a cabinet nominee is the natural outcome of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, which overturned many limits on campaign spending. The anonymously funded ads attacking Hagel would have been legal previously. But by opening up far more avenues for billionaires to swamp the airwaves, the ruling seems to have unleashed more third-party spending generally.Continued...