FAIR Legislative Update August 14, 2013
Senate Gang of Eight leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expressed confidence in an interview last week that the House will pass amnesty legislation. "I actually am optimistic that we will get this done," Schumer stated. (The Hill, Aug. 7, 2013) "I've had a lot of discussions with various members of both parties in the House. Things are moving in the right direction," he said. (Id.)
Despite previously criticizing the House's piecemeal approach to immigration reform, Schumer has now given the lower chamber his blessing. "We would much prefer the comprehensive bill, but any way the House can get there is all right by us," Schumer said. (Id.) With each chamber taking a different approach to immigration reform, the differences will have to be resolved by a conference committee which will then send the agreed upon language back to the Senate and House floors for final approval.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed that getting to conference is the tactical end game for passing the Senate's 1,200 page "comprehensive" immigration reform bill. "If [Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)] wants to pass something and send it over to the Senate, we will take a look at it because what we will do is just go to conference and just do our bill anyway," Reid announced during a local radio interview. (The Hill, Aug. 9, 2013) "If we go to conference, we will win," he declared. (Id.)
In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has seen a surge in the number of illegal aliens from Mexico claiming asylum. In fact, the Department is allegedly experiencing such a high number of requests that it is paying for the illegal aliens and their families to stay in hotels while processing centers figure out how to cope with the sudden influx. (Fox News, Aug. 12, 2013)
According to documents obtained by Fox News, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — the agency charged with enforcing federal immigration law — has been paying for hotel rooms for dozens of these recently arrived illegal aliens in the San Diego area at a cost of roughly $100 per night. (Id.) Illegal aliens that were not brought to a hotel were reportedly released to addresses in Texas, Florida, and New York. (Id.)
Although the number of Mexican asylum seekers has been on the rise since 2011, the influx is nonetheless unusual. Indeed, Mexico does not even rank in the top 10 asylum seeking countries based on nationality. In 2012, the leading countries of nationality of persons granted asylum were China (34%), Egypt (9.8%), Ethiopia (3.8%), Venezuela (3.7%), and Nepal (3.3%). (See DHS Refugee and Asylee Data, 2012) Nationals of these five countries accounted for over half of all persons granted asylum. (Id.)
These figures have left many wondering whether the increase in Mexican asylum seekers is nothing more than a coordinated effort to overwhelm the system. "This clearly has to have been orchestrated by somebody," said former U.S. Attorney for Southern California Peter Nunez. "It's beyond belief that dozens or hundreds or thousands of people would simultaneously decide that they should go to the U.S. and make this claim." (Fox News, Aug. 12, 2013)
The sudden increase in Mexican asylum seekers may be due to the Obama Administration's recent publication of a revised Q & A for asylum seekers on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. (breitbart.com, Aug. 12, 2013) In particular, the webpage lays out guidelines for how to obtain asylum, making clear that the phrase "credible fear" is key to winning any claim. (See USCIS Website, Questions and Answers: Credible Fear Screening, June 18, 2013)
Asylum is granted to aliens who are either already physically present in the U.S., or who arrive at a U.S. port of entry, who prove they have a credible fear of persecution in their home country based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. (See INA § 208; see also USCIS Website)
Stay tuned to FAIR as details emerge...
The pro-amnesty advocacy groups funded by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are utilizing their deep pockets to influence the immigration debate during the annual August Congressional recess.
FWD.us, which has the backing of top Silicon Valley executives, announced a new ad last week to push support for the repeatedly rejected DREAM Act, which would provide amnesty for illegal aliens who claim to have been brought to the country as minors. The "large ad buy" features an illegal alien seeking to join the U.S. military who claims to be a so-called "DREAMer"; it will run in Phoenix, Chicago, Texas, Florida, and online. (CNN, Aug. 8, 2013)
Additionally, the supposedly conservative "Americans for a Conservative Direction" has made a significant television ad purchase defending pro-amnesty Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) role in pushing comprehensive immigration reform through the House of Representatives. According to a source of inside-the-beltway publication Politico, the group, which is backed by the pro-amnesty Zuckerberg, bought $350,000 in ads to run in Ryan's district throughout the August recess. (Politico, Aug. 8, 2013) The ad attempts to argue that the legalization effort favored by Ryan is not actually amnesty. The ad opens, "Amnesty? Not a chance," while claiming that Ryan is looking for a "conservative solution" to immigration reform. (Id.)
The announcement of the Ryan ad comes just days after the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) penned an open letter to the Congressman urging him to oppose amnesty legislation. "We are concerned about the irreparable damage to the black community than an earned legalization plan, or any other similar House bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, would cause," the letter read. (BALA letter, Aug. 6, 2013) Specifically, the BALA members emphasize the "disastrous effects" amnesty would have on low-wage workers, noting that "the impact on African Americans would be especially catastrophic." (Id.) "Many studies have emerged in recent years that detail the harm that mass immigration and amnesty cause the African American community. Both illegal and legal immigration has compounded the black unemployment rate." (Id.)
FAIR is also running a radio and television ad campaign to put pressure on Ryan for supporting amnesty and increased legal immigration despite substantial unemployment in his home district. (Daily Caller, Aug. 5, 2013) "Congressman Ryan needs to explain to thousands of Wisconsin workers, who are struggling to find jobs to support their families, why he wants to increase immigration in order to avert a labor shortage that clearly does not exist," stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "Wisconsin has 210,000 unemployed workers. Does Congressman Ryan think they're not good enough to get the job done?"(FAIR Press Release, Aug. 6, 2013)
Watch the FAIR ad here.