Good News: Congress’ inability to multi-task and time manage will kill immigration

McImmigCainWhen it comes to immigration reform Senator John McCain has been a ray of sunshine.  Even during the toughest parts of the Gang of Eight’s negotiations he was upbeat and positive.  So when McCain recently said he was concerned  about  immigration reform, then I knew we are really in trouble.

The issue of immigration has yet again been pushed to the back burner.  In fact, some would claim that it’s not even on the stove but out of the kitchen.  Comprehensive immigration reform was supposed to be passed by now, or at the very least voted on.  But, this summer’s Marathon Bomber and now a potential strike on Syria in tandem with an upcoming debt ceiling battle have left immigration little oxygen.

Arizona Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva recently reminded us that members of Congress are elected to multitask.  But bitter partisan stalemate has set this Congress on track to being one of the least productive in history, with only about two-dozen laws being passed.

Issues of national security and the economy are indeed important.  They should take precedent.  However, taking precedent doesn’t mean that all else is ignored.

The inability of Congress to get its act together and address the issue of immigration will not only hurt immigrants but the state of our economy and our larger national security.

Comprehensive immigration reform is seen as a subordinate national issue, but the fact is that it is intertwined with all facets of our economic and societal health.  A recent study by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, shows that among other economic benefits, immigration reform would reduce the federal deficit by over $2.5 trillion.  And the same positive economic effects would trickle down to the state and local level with an estimated $68 billion in tax revenue over the course of ten years.

In the area of national security, a comprehensive immigration reform would only make us safer. Our physical borders and ports of entry would be made more secure through more boots on the ground and surveillance advancements. And the United States would be safer through an accurate count of who in fact is here in the country.  Having millions of people in the shadows is not smart national security.

American economic and security interests are bolstered by a comprehensive immigration reform.  The emphasis being on the “comprehensive” part.  House Judiciary Chariman Bob Goodlatte recently said that some components of immigration reform should be coming up in October.  However this piecemeal approach is ineffective because the multiplicity of issues regarding immigration require a comprehensive solution.  In the absence of a comprehensive solution immigration, which Democrats would unlikely vote for, immigration would continue to endure the same problems it has for the last couple of decades.

But the inability of Congress to negotiate, and hence multi-task is only reinforced by the political calendar.  Once the 2014 election season rolls around politicos on both sides will seek to further avoid a controversial issue like immigration.  Moreover, congressional members with already short attention spans will be devoted solely to the task of getting re-elected.

This means that there are only a couple of weeks left before immigration reform is definitively dead.  If this is the case then what happens?  Do we look to 2015, 2016, or perhaps 2020?  The clock is running out, and more importantly Congress’ inability to walk and chew gum will likely doom immigration reform for the short and medium term.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto is an NBC Latino and MSNBC contributor, Senior Analyst for Latino Decisions and Fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, at Austin.


Opinion: Congress’ inability to multi-task and time manage will kill immigration

One Comment on “Good News: Congress’ inability to multi-task and time manage will kill immigration”

  1. docfnc says:

    U.S. Senate’s immigration legislation hurts Arizona’s unemployed

    September 20, 2013

    By David Olen Cross

    Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both know as members of the “Gang of Eight,” voting for the passage of Senate Bill 744 (S.744), termed comprehensive immigration reform by some, amnesty by others, is unconscionable considering the United States’ July seasonally adjusted number of 12.1 million unemployed citizens; 7.4 percent of the country’s civilian labor force.

    According to the “February 1, 2011 Pew Hispanic Center, Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010” there are 8.0 million unauthorized workers in the U.S.

    With so many unemployed American citizens looking for jobs and 8.0 million unauthorized workers currently holding the jobs many citizens will do, the U.S. Senate’s legislation at best seems oblivious to the plight of the unemployed in this country.

    Two of the negative consequences of S.744 are revealed in a June 2013 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report which indicates the legislation will cause unemployment to increase through 2020 and average wages to decline through 2025.

    An evaluation of the seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, News Release from August 19, 2013 titled “Regional and State Employment and Unemployment — July” reveals unemployment rates in the states represented by the “Gang of Eight”: Arizona, 8.0 percent; Colorado, 7.1 percent; Florida, 7.1 percent; Illinois, 9.2 percent; New Jersey, 8.6 percent; New York, 7.5 percent; and South Carolina, 8.1 percent. Five of the preceding seven gang member states had a higher percentage of unemployed than the national average.

    Apparently, when Senators McCain and Flake have returned home from Washington D.C. to Arizona over the last five years they have failed to take a look at the number of unemployed in the state.

    The BLS reported 241,700 citizens were unemployed in July; the state ranked 10th tied with Oregon for the percentage of unemployed.

    Back to the Pew Hispanic Center report: according to the Pew report, there are an estimated 230,000 unauthorized workers in Arizona; 7.4 percent of the state’s total labor force.

    If S.744 is passed by both sides of congress and signed into law by the president, the addition of 230,000 unauthorized workers into the state’s civilian labor force, if the CBO report is right, will likely increase unemployment in Arizona. This would be a setback for a state still mired and struggling to come out of a severe recession.

    The U.S. House of Representatives will hopefully take a more incremental approach to any type of immigration reform and first pass standalone legislation requiring a federally mandated national employment verification system like E-Verify, which the federal government currently uses on all its new hires.

    As Congress returns from its recess, Arizona’s 241,700 unemployed U.S. citizens should contact Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, along with all the state’s Reps., Ron Barber, Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Ed Pastor, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert and Kyrsten Sinema, and tell them Arizonians should never have to compete for scarce jobs now or in the future with persons illegally in the country; and furthermore, the U.S. Congress passing a standalone federally mandated E-Verify system is best way to get those unemployed in the state and across the country back to fulltime work.

    David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues (

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