And in this corner, hoping to make a comeback after being knocked out in 2007… immigration reform.
A little over a week ago, HLSWatch provided a synopsis of Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano’s speech at the Center for American Progress on immigration. In response to the speech, there has been a good amount of chatter on immigration and the possibility that it is next up in the queue in policy priorities for the Administration and Congress.
Here is a quick summary of some of the lines that are being drawn on the issue:
- On November 19th, House Judiciary Committee Republican Members, led by Ranking Member Lamar Smith and Immigration Subcommittee Chair Steve King, held a forum entitled”"American Jobs in Peril: The Impact of Uncontrolled Immigration.” The forum focused on data from the Department of Homeland Security that the Members said demonstrated “dramatic drops in worksite enforcement.” Rep. Smith focused increased unemployment to the jobs issues, stating that “[t]here are 16 million Americans out of work. And yet, the administration has chosen to ignore the fact that there are nearly eight million illegal immigrants in the workforce. Those stolen jobs should be returned to out-of-work citizens and legal immigrants. The Obama administration should put citizens and legal immigrants first, especially when it comes to jobs.” DHS responded to the forum by noting that the data presented at the Forum was outdated.
- In response to the economic concerns that many are trying to link to immigration, The Hill reported this morning that House Democrats are making changes to their immigration legislation to take into account the high unemployment rate. The paper quotes Rep. Luis Gutierrez, one of the biggest advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, as saying “Each bill is reflective of a time. And with unemployment over 10 percent I think we need to have language that is very carefully tailored.”
- Secretary Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton announced on November 19th that DHS was launching the “I-E-Verify” program, a program that allows employers to go online to check the legal status of potential employees. They also announced that DHS would begin a significant workplace audit of more than 1,000 employers nationwide — mostly focused on businesses connected to public safety and national security.
- On November 19, Secretary Napolitano also announced that the Global Entry program, a “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) voluntary initiative that streamlines the international arrivals and admission process at airports for trusted travelers through biometric identification” would become permanent.
Expect more on the immigration front in the coming weeks as the sides prepare for the potential big bout of 2010.