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Dec 26th, 2010

In Congress, a Harder Line on Illegal Immigrants

Legislation to test interpretation of 14th Amendment as granting citizenship to children of illegals

Rep. Steve King (left) and Rep. Lamar Smith field questions on Capitol Hill. (Photo: AP)
Lamar Smith and Steve King will play integral roles in the U.S. House’s implementation of immigration policy. (Photo credit: The Associated Press via Politico)

By Suzanne Gamboa

December 26, 2010

WASHINGTON — The end of the year means a turnover of House control from Democratic to Republican and, with it, Congress’ approach to immigration.

In a matter of weeks, Congress will go from trying to help young, illegal immigrants become legal to debating whether children born to parents who are in the country illegally should continue to enjoy automatic U.S. citizenship. …

Legislation to test interpretations of the 14th Amendment as granting citizenship to children of illegal immigrants will emerge early next session. That is likely to be followed by attempts to force employers to use a still-developing web system, dubbed E-Verify, to check that all of their employees are in the U.S. legally.

There could be proposed curbs on federal spending in cities that don’t do enough to identify people who are in the country illegally [“sanctuary cities”] and attempts to reduce the numbers of legal immigrants. Democrats ended the year failing for a second time to win passage of the Dream Act, which would have given hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a chance at legal status.

House Republicans will try to fill the immigration reform vacuum left by Democrats with legislation designed to send illegal immigrants packing and deter others from trying to come to the U.S.

Democrats, who will still control the Senate, will be playing defense against harsh immigration enforcement measures, mindful of their need to keep on good footing with Hispanic voters. But a slimmer majority and an eye on 2012 may prevent Senate Democrats from bringing to the floor any sweeping immigration bill, or even a limited one that hints at providing legal status to people in the country illegally.

President Barack Obama could be a wild card.

He’ll have at his disposal his veto power should a bill denying citizenship to children of illegal immigrants make it to his desk. But Obama also has made cracking down on employers a key part of his administration’s immigration enforcement tactics. …

The president has taken heavy hits in Spanish-language and ethnic media for failing to keep his promise to address immigration promptly and taking it off the agenda last summer. His administration’s continued deportations of immigrants — a record 393,000 in the 2010 fiscal year — have also made tenuous his relationship with Hispanic voters.

John Morton, who oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a recent conference call that there are no plans to change the agency’s enforcement tactics, which are focused on immigrants who commit crimes but also have led to detaining and deporting many immigrants who have not committed crimes.

The agency also will continue to expand Secure Communities, the program that allows immigration officials to check fingerprints of all people booked into jail to see if they are in the country illegally. Both illegal immigrants and residents can end up being deported under the program, which the Homeland Security Department hopes to expand nationwide by 2013. …

The next Congress will be populated with many newcomers elected on a platform of tougher immigration enforcement. They’ll have ready ears in Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who will chair the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who is expected to chair the committee’s immigration subcommittee.

That’s a recipe for more measures aimed at immigration enforcement, including requiring businesses to use E-Verify rather than eyeballing paper documents to check workers’ citizenship and legal residency status. …

But more controversial measures such as attempts to deny citizenship to children of people who are in the U.S. without permission could be tempered by GOP leaders aware of the need to curry more favor with Hispanic voters.


Related reports on this site

Image: Supporters of the Federal DREAM Act participate in a candle-light procession
Supporters of the Federal DREAM Act participate in a candle-light procession, December 2010. (Photo credit: Damian Dovarganes / AP)

Suicide Bomber Strikes Sweden (Dec. 11, 2010)

House Dems OK Illegal Amnesty (Dec. 9, 2010)

Portland Somali Car Bomb Sting (Nov. 27, 2010)

Immigration: Government vs. The People (July 28, 2010)

Immigration Enforcement Surge (June 25, 2010)

Arizona Tough on Illegal Immigration (April 23, 2010)

Obama Set to Change Course (Jan. 24, 2010)

Reprieve for Haitian Illegals (Jan. 15, 2010)

Fears of ‘Homegrown Terrorism’ (Dec. 12, 2009)

Exodus: Iraqi Refugees Head for U.S. (Dec. 30, 2008)

New Terrorism Forecast for U.S. (Dec. 26, 2008)

Statement on Illegal Immigration (July 15, 2008)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — December 26, 2009

Yemen Link in Airline Terror Plot

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in an undated handout, distributed by IntelCenter on December 28, 2009, and attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (Photo credit: IntelCenter — Handout / Reuters)

One year ago today, reported that U.S. agencies were looking into whether al-Qaida extremists in Yemen directed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and provided him with the explosives used in the failed bombing of Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — December 26, 2008

New Terrorism Forecast for U.S.

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff (Photo credit: Matt Dunham / AP)

Two years ago today, on Dec. 26, 2008 I reported a new Homeland Security Threat Assessment for the years 2008-2013, which projected that the terrorism threat to the United States over the next five years would be driven by instability in the Middle East and Africa, persistent challenges to border security, and increasing Internet savvy — with chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear [CBRN] attacks considered the most dangerous threats to U.S. national security.

5 Responses to “Enforcing Immigration Law”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » States Fight Illegal Immigration Says:

    […] Enforcing Immigration Law (Dec. 26, 2010) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Quick Immigration Conflict Fuse Says:

    […] Enforcing Immigration Law (Dec. 26, 2010) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Obama Touts ‘Immigration’ Reform Says:

    […] Enforcing Immigration Law (Dec. 26, 2010) […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » GOP Presidential Hopefuls Weak on Immigration Check Says:

    […] Enforcing Immigration Law (Dec. 26, 2010) […]

  5. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    Cross-posted from

    As stated by the author: “There appears to be significant problems with every plan I’ve studied. … A solid immigration plan is needed.”

    In my opinion, all immigration reform proposals have a fundamental flaw that dooms them to failure: coexistence with the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868), which states, “All persons born … in the United States … are citizens of the United States.”

    The citizenship clause will always serve as a magnet for immigration and permanently undermine the feasibility of a viable guest worker program — because guest workers inevitably will have children, which provides a disincentive for guest workers to return to their country of origin.

    Not all problems have solutions, and successfully regulating immigration into the United States is a case in point; all immigration plans are constitutionally doomed to failure.

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