I applaud President Obama for his extraordinary leadership in this momentous effort to forge long overdue comprehensive immigration reform. Yesterday, a Senate bipartisan working group released an unprecedented set of core legislative principles to resolve our broken immigration system. Today, President Obama advanced this promising and historic moment, outlining a vision that embraces our nation’s long-standing traditions for protecting all families, including same-sex partners, and accepting the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
On Sunday evening, an important, bipartisan, and influential group of leaders in the Senate introduced their outline suggesting reasonable and balanced solutions for fixing our nation’s outdated and thoroughly broken immigration system. On Tuesday, President Obama will also lean into this issue by introducing his thoughts about immigration reform legislation. Our Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform coalition applauds this leadership, and we are anxious to review and compare these blueprints. We note that the Senate’s plan is very much in line with the principles that our coalition has been advocating for some time now.
As Immigration Taskforce chairman of the Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), I am very pleased that the Senate bipartisan working group reached a consensus on a core set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform. This is a big step toward honoring our nation’s legacy as a land of opportunity.
President Obama has said one of his biggest regrets from his first term was that he didn’t pass immigration reform. We want to make sure he won’t have the same regret four years from now.
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and the millions of Latino and immigrant families we represent are committed to working with the president and Congress to pass legislation that will provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans living in the United States.
As soon as President Obama began his first term, he issued an executive order that banned the use of torture as an interrogation technique. Putting an end to the violations of international law that were explicitly authorized by the Bush administration was a good start. However, ending the use of torture by members of the U.S. military and intelligence communities does not alone satisfy our obligations under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.
In the continuing controversy over the treatment of torture in Zero Dark Thirty, a crucial scene has been overlooked – one that makes the film’s point of view clear, even if it’s less attention-grabbing than images of waterboarding. The scene comes late in the movie, after the CIA has surmised that Osama bin Laden is possibly hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan. One government official wonders aloud whether a Guantánamo detainee might be able to confirm that location, to which a CIA operative replies, “Who the hell am I supposed to ask, some guy in Gitmo who’s all lawyered up?” He explains that any lawyer will simply tip off al-Qaeda.
As a member of Congress, I took an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. I did not swear to uphold only the sections I liked. The Bill of Rights contain civil liberties so fundamentally important that no matter how unpopular at times, these rights are guaranteed and no president, no Congress and no person can deprive them from us. The Second Amendment, hated by some, is a fundamental right as well. I, and millions of others, see the wisdom of the Second Amendment even as many do not. But whether you see its wisdom, all public officials were sworn to uphold it.
And this is where I part ways with the president. On Wednesday, President Obama sought to undermine constitutional guarantees when he unveiled 23 measures, in a combination of executive orders and proposed new legislation, to restrict gun ownership.
Over the past few months, bipartisan meetings of Congressional legislators have been taking place behind closed doors on immigration. This is highly unusual when compared to other hot-button issues like taxes and gun control, which are both currently high-profile debates. Despite the productive talks and alliances, Democrats and Republicans are still calling on President Obama to take leadership on immigration. The president certainly has a role but Congress legislates, however; not the president.
The President has a mixed record on immigration reform that has taken far longer than he initially said it would. This situations requires Congress to take action on immigration legislation without the president to modernize the country’s immigration system.
The movie “Lincoln” is the riveting drama of the president’s securing the crucial votes needed from the opposition party to pass the thirteenth amendment to the constitution that outlawed slavery. Stunningly, Lincoln rounded up impossible-to-get votes from die-hard opponents of freedom for African Americans, and he did so in 18 days.
Contrast that with the record of the 112th Congress, which broke all previous records of low numbers of bills enacted. Among the many initiatives left undone was passing the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. This legislation should have reauthorized the 2001 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which expired in October 2011.