Gadsden Times | GUEST COMMENTARY: Report from Washington on immigration
GUEST COMMENTARY: Report from Washington on immigration
By M.N. Cothran Jr. | Gadsden Times | June 19, 2013
As state chairman of the Alabama Immigration Compact, I have been very involved with the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C., over the past 16 months. On June 12, I attended an NIF national meeting to address immigration issues with House and Senate leaders.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., discussed the importance of the House and Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, working together to bring positive immigration reform. He shared how important it is for the people to let their House and Senate leaders know how they believe.
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour followed with a passionate speech on where, in our history, this immigration bill would be remembered. He shared how we must come together for the betterment of the United States. He spoke about the compassion that we must show in addressing the treatment of immigrants.
One very important point that he made was, “How will the people of faith respond?”
Steve Case, founder of AOL, spoke about the future of the workforce in America. He believes we must have positive immigration reform or we will face a serious workforce problem. Case talked about how the working class in agriculture, hospitality, food service and construction could and would face major problems unless sound positive immigration laws are in place.
During the afternoon, we branched out across the Senate and House chambers to meet with our elected leaders. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was debating immigration on the Senate floor, but I had the opportunity to speak to his staff. The key points we discussed were border control and amnesty.
Based on what the staff shared, Sessions sees the border control section of the bill as a good starting point. It will be interesting to see how this section of the bill plays out. The biggest problem he has with the bill is the idea that it will become an amnesty bill. This he will not support.
I had the opportunity to discuss immigration with Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville. We discussed the border provisions of the bill: The issue of fencing with parts being double and triple layer; the increased number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers with 3,500 new guards; authorization of use of the National Guard; and the goal of having this in place within six months.
He saw these as positive parts of the bill and steps in the right direction. He was concerned about a provision calling for appointment of a commission if the six-month goal isn’t met. His concern was who would appoint the commission, who would serve on the commission and what would be their responsibilities? This is not addressed in the bill. He stated he “had deep concerns about who, what, when and where.”
We talked about the steps the Senate was taking in bringing a comprehensive immigration bill to a vote. Aderholt said the House would be taking a different approach than what the Senate was doing. He said the House sees the best path would be addressing the bill in sections rather than as a whole.
One example was that they would look at the border security section of the bill and establish what they wanted just in this section. His concern was the ability to get a comprehensive immigration bill through the House and Senate that both Republicans and Democrats would approve. His responses seemed to reflect a deep concern about it being passed in the Senate. I asked his gut feeling about whether an immigration bill would be passed this year. After several seconds of thought, he said 40 percent. Will his 40 percent be correct or will it be in the 60 percent?
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