Lindsey Graham Sees Little Hope For Immigration Overhaul

Lindsey Graham sees little hope for immigration overhaul
Senator says financial reformer have some hope

By Clark Brooks
The Greenville News (SC), March 29, 2010

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday he was just being honest when, two days before the House Democrats approved health-care reform, he said it would 'pretty much kill any chance of immigration reform passing the Senate this year.

Graham said he would continue to work with Democrats on immigration and also hopes lawmakers can pass financial reform.

'But heres the effect,' he said on NBCs Meet the Press. 'Immigration is tough.'

'The president promised to pass the immigration-reform bill in his first year,' Graham said. 'Theyve done almost nothing in the White House on immigration. Weve been absorbed by health care.'

And it isnt just Republicans who are reluctant to work on immigration reform, Graham said.

'If a moderate Democrat got a phone call from the president, he wants you to come down to the White House and help him with immigration now, most of them would jump out the window. Thats just the truth.'

Graham said that finance-regulation reform 'has some bipartisan hope. I hope well seize the moment there and try to get a bipartisan financial regulation bill.'


Despite Obama's vow, immigration overhaul unlikely this year
By William Douglas
The Miami Herald, March 25, 2010

Washington, DC — With the overhaul of the nation's health care system almost off his to-do list, President Obama has renewed his promise to revamp immigration laws this year.

'I pledge to do everything in my power to forge a bipartisan consensus this year on this important issue,' Obama said in a video message to activists who were calling for revising immigration laws as they gathered Sunday on Washington's National Mall.

Chances are slim to none that the president will fulfill that pledge this year, however, as administration officials and lawmakers in Congress have put several other priorities — from tightening financial regulations to creating jobs — ahead of overhauling immigration laws.

Furthermore, lawmakers and pro-immigration advocates question whether Obama has the political capital — and Congress the will — to deal with another potentially divisive hot-button issue after the bruising battle over health care and with November's midterm elections on the horizon.

'There's nobody in there ready to say, 'Hey, let's write an immigration bill.' Nobody,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who co-authored an immigration framework with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that the president recently embraced. 'Democrats are risk-averse. If you don't believe me, go ask them about whether or not they want to take up immigration reform in the Senate.'

Since Obama took office, there's been little action on restructuring federal immigration law or figuring out what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants who already are in this country.

Schumer and Graham's outline of a bill calls for creating a high-tech, tamper-proof Social Security card that would ensure that employers hire only legal workers. It includes a temporary worker program and penalties for illegal immigrants — fines or community service — while allowing them to remain in the United States.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) introduced a bill in December that would provide 100,000 visas for immigrants from countries that have high illegal immigration rates and would expedite legal immigration for close relatives of U.S. citizens and legal residents. Democrats and Republicans, however, called Gutierrez's measure a nonstarter.

There's little evidence that tackling immigration is a burning priority. In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel didn't even mention it when listing Obama's post-health care agenda, which includes dealing with financial regulation and job creation, retooling the No Child Left Behind education provisions and amending campaign-finance law to rebut a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that permits corporations and unions to finance campaign ads.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in a statement about Sunday's immigration rally, said, 'We look forward to sending a bipartisan bill to the president's desk.' She didn't say when.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said he and other pro-immigration religious leaders met Monday with members of Pelosi's staff in Washington and were told that any movement on immigration would have to start in the Senate.

'They looked at me straight in the eye and said, 'It must be led by the Senate,' ' he said. 'I left the meeting at Pelosi's office feeling, 'Oh boy, this will be a long climb.' I'm not sure Congress is ready for this rodeo.'

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday he was still hopeful about getting to immigration this year. Graham said, however, that if Obama wanted an immigration bill, he should write it himself and have the House of Representatives take the lead, because party-line votes on health care had 'taken the oxygen out of the room' and 'poisoned the well' in the Senate on immigration.

'The president ought to put one out there on his own,' Graham said. 'If you're telling the community we're going to do this, you lead. 'xA6; You just can't put any capital in it and say it's a big deal right before the election. After health care, it just doesn't make any sense.'


Sen. Graham finds himself in the thick of Washington's battles
By James Rosen
The Miami Herald, March 26, 2010

Graham: Obama done 'almost nothing' on immigration
The Politico (Washington, DC), March 28, 2010