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Immigration and the 2016 Campaign: The Sad Legacy of Speaker John Boehner

by Edward Alden
Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters). Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).

There has been a great deal of ink spilled on the question of who or what is to blame for the meteoric rise of Donald Trump in the Republican Party. The alleged culprits include everything from wage stagnation to cable news to talk radio to political correctness run amok. Read more »

Visa Overstays and Illegal Immigration: Finally, Some Real Numbers

by Edward Alden
A traveler has his passport scanned as he passes through U.S. Customs and Immigration (Mike Blake/Reuters). A traveler has his passport scanned as he passes through U.S. Customs and Immigration (Mike Blake/Reuters).

After several years of promising, the Department of Homeland Security this week finally delivered its first report documenting the number of “visa overstays” — travelers to the United States who come on a legal visa but then fail to leave when the lawful duration of their stay expires. The good news is that roughly 99 percent of all visitors comply and go home when they are supposed to; the bad news is that, with more than 40 million visitors last year, the one percent who didn’t go home still adds up to nearly 500,000 overstayers. Read more »

Buried in the Omnibus, a Step Back for Immigration Reform

by Edward Alden
Mexican workers, on the U.S. H2B visa program for seasonal guest workers, process crabs at the A.E. Phillips & Son Inc. crab picking house on Hooper's Island in Fishing Creek, Maryland August 26, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters). Mexican workers, on the U.S. H2B visa program for seasonal guest workers, process crabs at the A.E. Phillips & Son Inc. crab picking house on Hooper's Island in Fishing Creek, Maryland August 26, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters).

Anti-immigration activists who helped to derail comprehensive immigration reform last year are seething over several provisions of the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last week. Tucked away in the mammoth legislation were some of the most significant changes in years to U.S. immigration laws. One of the biggest would greatly expand the H-2B program for temporary seasonal non-agriculture workers such as landscapers, restaurant staff, and seafood processors. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who led the fight in the Senate against comprehensive reform, lamented that the new provisions would “line the pockets of special interests and big business.” Read more »

Obama’s Immigration Action Shows the Limits of Executive Power

by Edward Alden
rally immigration reform Capitol Hill Washington Latinos rally in favor of comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill in Washington (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which will temporarily legalize as many as 5 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, is being criticized by opponents as an unprecedented abuse of presidential authority. But as the details are coming out, what the action shows instead is how sharply limited the president’s powers actually are. What has been true for many years remains true today: the real problems with U.S. immigration laws simply cannot be solved without congressional action. Read more »

Immigration Reform Is Happening

by Renewing America Staff
Immigration reform Murietta refugee vigil William Bello, 16, listens to speakers at a vigil in support of refugee children and their families in Murrieta, California July 9, 2014 (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

In a new piece for Foreign Policy, CFR Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies Shannon O’Neil argues that, despite federal inaction, immigration reform is happening at the state and local levels. In 2013 alone, 45 of the 50 state legislatures passed over four-hundred immigration-related laws and resolutions. O’Neil notes that although a small number were bills that made life more difficult for undocumented immigrants, many others were designed to integrate them more easily into local communities. However, while this push is having real and positive effects for local economies, the wider immigration problem cannot be solved without federal action, she explains.

The New GOP Immigration Principles: A Historic Shift

by Edward Alden
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks at his news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington January 16, 2014 (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks at his news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington January 16, 2014 (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters).

The decision yesterday by House Republicans to release a broad set of principles for immigration reform may or may not lead to successful legislation this year. There are still many political and substantive hurdles to overcome to reach a bipartisan deal. But regardless, the announcement should be recognized for what it is – a huge and consequential change in the Republican Party’s approach to immigration reform. Read more »

How to Win Over GOP on Immigration

by Renewing America Staff

Though many declared the Senate’s immigration bill dead on arrival in the House, Edward Alden writes that prospects for big bipartisan agreement may not be out of reach. For CNN.com, he writes that to get across the finish line, both parties should emphasize areas of agreement, not waste time on those who won’t vote for reform, emphasize that this bill will outlast the Obama administration, demand performance accountability, and prioritize the issue of the undocumented population.

A Fine Start on Immigration Reform

by Edward Alden
Members of the Senate "Gang on Eight"--Dick Durbin (R-FL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)--are pictured during a news briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss their proposed immigration bill (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). Members of the Senate "Gang on Eight"--Dick Durbin (R-FL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)--are pictured during a news briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss their proposed immigration bill (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

The immigration bill introduced in the Senate this week – all 844 pages – is not a perfect piece of legislation. But it is the most serious effort in many years to create an immigration system that would better serve U.S. economic needs, strengthen the rule of law, and enhance security. Read more »

Update on the CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force Report on U.S. Immigration Policy

by Renewing America Staff

After the failed attempt to overhaul the U.S. immigration system in 2007, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) sponsored a report by the bipartisan Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy, chaired by former governor of Florida Jeb Bush and former White House chief of staff Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, which was released in July 2009. Read more »

Immigration Reform: Five Years Later, Five Big Challenges

by Edward Alden
A Student Immigrant Movement rally to support the DREAM Act on September 20, 2010 (openmediaboston/Flickr). A Student Immigrant Movement rally to support the DREAM Act on September 20, 2010 (openmediaboston/Flickr).

It has been more than five years since the last congressional effort at comprehensive immigration reform dissolved in acrimony. Since that time, the U.S. government has deported nearly 2 million unauthorized immigrants; a weaker economy and tougher border enforcement resulted in arrests of illegal crossers at the border with Mexico dropping from more than 850,000 to 327,000 annually, the lowest since the early 1970s; and skilled immigrants, facing long waits for green cards as well as the diminished opportunities of a weaker economy, are no longer coming to the United States in the numbers they once did. Read more »