Today: 2017-03-01

Richard Eskow
Trump Offers “A Nation of Miracles.” Your Move, Democrats.

Tuesday’s speech largely toed the Republican party line. Take infrastructure. On the campaign trail, Trump promised major government investment. On Tuesday, he promised a financial boon for corporations and bankers. He promised no American would go without healthcare. But the ideas Trump floated on Tuesday could have been written by the insurance executives he hosted on Monday – and probably were … He has promised not to cut Social Security or Medicare … But he pointedly refused to repeat that promise on Tuesday night.

Tone Deaf

Tone is meaningless, says Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein: “Governing, the old saw says, is choosing. To the joint session of Congress, Trump made no choices at all. It was an hour plus of cotton candy. I suspect it’ll get excellent reviews; a lot of pundits who have been brutal to Trump will welcome the chance to praise him, and I suspect everyone is pleased to have the president toss aside his clown act, at least for one night. But it’s a sugar high, and there won’t be much if anything remaining of it after a few hours.”

OurFuture.org’s Isaiah J. Poole slams Trump’s racism: “[Trump] flung an amount of cynical racial exploitation and manipulation during his speech before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night that was unprecedented in recent memory … Without addressing the deep concerns communities of color have about police abuse of deadly force, Trump reprised a version of the law-and-order themes that dominated his campaign for the presidency … Even more pernicious was his use of African-American crime victims as poster images for his efforts to deport millions of black and brown immigrants who are living peaceably in our communities.”

Details, Details

Few immigration details. HuffPost: “Hours before his speech to a joint session of Congress, the president reportedly told news anchors he was open to a legal status for some undocumented immigrants … Trump’s speech, however, gave no such indication, even though it mentioned immigration reform … The president only addressed one aspect of immigration legislation: the need to reform legal immigration to a ‘merit-based immigration system.’ … He discussed immigrants almost exclusively in the context of crime, terrorism and lowering Americans’ wages.”

Few health care details. HuffPost: “…outside of some general platitudes that Trump has long endorsed, the president offered no new guidelines for a replacement to former President Barack Obama’s 2010 law … for the lawmakers actually familiar with the complexity of ‘replacing’ the Affordable Care Act, it was revealing that the president put the onus on Congress to resolve this issue. Compare that vague, lead-from-behind approach to Trump’s section on a tax overhaul, where he said, ‘My economic team is developing historic tax reform.’”

Few tax details. Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump offered no new details of his plan to overhaul corporate and individual taxes — renewing questions about whether he supports a controversial proposal to tax U.S. companies’ imports while excluding their exports … Trump’s tax plans for individuals also remain to be clarified…”

“Donald Trump Goes All In for the Military-Industrial Complex” writes The Nation’s John Nichols: “…the president imagined that the United States could cut taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations, rip tens of billions of dollars out of domestic programs (and diplomacy), hand that money over to the military-industrial complex, and somehow remain a functional and genuinely strong nation.”

Former Gov. Steve Beshear slams Trump in Democratic response. Politico: “[He delivered] a direct shot at Trump’s support among working-class Americans, many of whom have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion … ‘So far, every Republican idea to “replace” the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite promises to the contrary,’ he said. ‘Mr. President, folks here in Kentucky expect you to keep your word. Because this isn’t a game — it’s life and death for people.’”

Back to (Not) Governing

“Republicans near make-or-break moment on Obamacare repeal” reports Politico: “… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called a special all-members caucus meeting Wednesday to try and get his rowdy caucus in line … GOP leaders are facing pressure from both moderates and conservatives as they try to craft a bill … [They] are coming to grips with the growing possibility they’ll have to just put a repeal bill on the floor — and dare GOP lawmakers to vote no.”

Trump delays new travel ban. CNN: “Signing the executive order Wednesday, as originally indicated by the White House, would have undercut the favorable coverage [from Trump’s address to Congress … ‘We want the (executive order) to have its own “moment,”‘ [a senior administration] official said.”

Trump’s trade representative on slow track to Senate confirmation. Canadian Press: “…Robert Lighthizer’s approval as U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) could be delayed for months, amid partisan stalling and because past legal work for foreign governments means he needs a special waiver from Congress … Does that mean [NAFTA] talks might be held up for months? [Rep. Chris] Collins replied: ‘Yup.’”

Advertisements

This Document Reveals Why The House Of Representatives Is In Complete Chaos

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/MANUEL BALCE CENETA Congressman David Brat, a key member of the House Freedom Caucus

The House of Representative is in chaos. John Boehner announced his intention to step down as Speaker at the end of the month. There doesn’t appear to be anyone to take his place. The leading candidate, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, abruptly withdrew from the race yesterday. Another popular choice, Paul Ryan, says he’s not interested.What happened? How did we get to this point? One document, produced by the House Freedom Caucus, holds all the answers. Framed as a “questionnaire” the document effectively makes it impossible for any candidate to both: (1) Get elected speaker, and (2) Not send the entire country (and maybe the world) over a cliff.

Why the Freedom Caucus has so much power

The House Freedom Caucus, a relatively new group of about 40 Republicans loosely associated with the Tea Party, has an extraordinary amount of power in this process. Any potential speaker needs the support of 218 Republicans on the floor of the House. There are currently 247 Republicans in the House. That’s a large majority but without the Freedom Caucus, no candidate can get to 218.

What the Freedom Caucus says they want

The Freedom Caucus says they are just fighting for arcane rule changes that will enhance “democracy” in the House. On CNN yesterday, David Brat, a prominent member of the Freedom Caucus outlined his criteria for a new speaker. (You may remember Brat for his surprise victory over Eric Cantor, the man many assumed would replace Boehner as speaker.)

Anyone that ensures a fair process for all sides. That’s what we are all looking for, right… We’ve shown principle. We are waiting for leadership candidates to put in writing moves that ensure you have a democratic process within our own conference. That is what everyone is waiting to see. And it’s got to be in writing, ahead of time for that to be credible.

Sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

What the Freedom Caucus actually wants

Yesterday, Politico published the House Freedom Caucus “questionnairewhich it described as pushing for “House rule changes.” The document does do that. But it also does a lot more. It seeks substantive commitments from the next speaker that would effectively send the entire country into a tailspin.

For example, the document seeks a commitment from the next speaker to tie any increase in the debt ceiling to cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

355

The United States will reach the debt limit on November 5. If the limit is not raised prior to that point, the United States could default on its obligations. This could have disasterous effects on the economy of the United States and the entire world. In 2013, a Treasury Department report found “default could result in recession comparable to or worse than 2008 financial crisis.”

Cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is extremely unpopular, even among Republicans. These programs are sacrosanct to most Democratic members of Congress. There is effectively no chance that President Obama or Senate Democrats — both of whom would need to support such legislation — would agree to “structural entitlement reforms” in the next month under these kind of conditions.

The House Freedom Caucus essentially wants to make it impossible for the next speaker to raise the debt ceiling. But that is just the beginning.

The House Freedom Caucus also wants the next speaker to commit to numerous conditions on any agreement to avoid a government shutdown:

356

The government will run out of money on December 11. Unless additional funding is approved before that date, the government will shut down.

The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to not funding the government at all unless President Obama (and Senate Democrats) agree to defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and a host of other priorities. This is essentially the Ted Cruz strategy which prompted at 16-day shutdown in 2013. They’re demanding to have this now be enshrined as the official policy of the Speaker of The House.

The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to oppose any “omnibus” bill that would keep the government running. Rather, funding for each aspect of government could only be approved by separate bills. This would allow the Republicans to attempt to finance certain favored aspects of government (the military), while shuttering ones they view as largely unnecessary (education, health).

Why McCarthy thinks the House might be ungovernable

For McCarthy, the document helps explain why he dropped out of the race. If he doesn’t agree to the demands of the House Freedom Caucus, he cannot secure enough votes to become speaker. But if he does agree to their demands, he will unable to pass legislation that is necessary to avoid disastrous consequences for the country.

McCarthy said that, even if he managed to get elected speaker, he doesn’t see how he would be able to have enough votes to extend the debt ceiling and keep the government open.

Asked by the National Review if he thought the House was governable, McCarthy said, “I don’t know. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom.”

Why no one wants to be speaker

Top Republicans are calling Paul Ryan and begging him to be speaker. But thus far, he hasn’t agreed to run. None of the candidates currently running appear to have substantial support.

The agenda of the House Freedom Caucus makes a difficult job effectively impossible. Agreeing to their demands means presiding over a period of unprecedented dysfunction in the United States.

Even if a candidate was able to become speaker without formally agreeing to the Freedom Caucus’ most extreme requirements, one would still have to deal with the group — and a larger group of House Republicans sympathetic to them — in order to get anything done.

This is why Boehner wanted out and why no one really wants to take his place.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Get to Know the Candidates: Martin O’Malley

O'MalleyMost folks seem to be so divided between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that they’ve not even bothered to notice there is another viable candidate in the race who has some pretty good ideas, but who is stuck at 1-2% in the polls: former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley.

Here’s a copy of his comprehensive policy statement which speaks to Immigration Reform, released on July 14th:

WELCOMING NEW AMERICANS TO REBUILD THE AMERICAN DREAM

We are a nation of immigrants – whether our ancestors came from Ireland or from Mexico, or whether they immigrated here generations ago, or whether our parents brought us to the United States. But today, this fundamental characteristic of our country – the diversity that makes us great and enriches each new generation – is being eroded. Our outdated immigration laws no longer meet our economic needs, our national security imperatives, or our values as a people. They fail to reaffirm our founding ideal, e pluribus unum – that out of many, we are one.

As a nation, we must honor our proud legacy as a nation of immigrants and maintain one of America’s key strategic advantages: that people all over the world still dream of becoming Americans. To continue to attract the next generation of strivers, dreamers, and risk-takers, and to be true to the values we hold dear, it is imperative that we pursue a dynamic, modern approach to immigration policy. This will require a new push for comprehensive immigration reform – and new leadership that is willing to work tirelessly until it is finally accomplished, once and for all.

Goal-1

There is broad consensus on how to fix our inhumane immigration system, but for all those waiting to immigrate – and for all those already here waiting to be legally included – reform cannot come soon enough. In 2013 alone, more than 72,000 parents were torn from their U.S.-born children. One out of five undocumented adults today is at risk of being separated from their partners. Even a visit from relatives can turn into a decades-long waiting game.

New Americans have endured the uncertainty and fear of legislative inaction for far too long. They deserve to know that when they go to work in the morning, their contributions will be valued, and that they’ll return home safely to their children. The next president must provide that assurance. And he or she can do so immediately by using the full power of the presidency to secure administrative relief for millions of New American families.

To give Congress a running start on advancing a lasting legislative solution, Governor O’Malley is committed to providing that relief his first year in office. From expanding the use of deferred action and exercising discretion to keep families together; to rewriting punitive regulations and ending harmful law enforcement policies; to greatly limiting detention and restoring due process to our immigration system; an O’Malley Administration will use all legal and executive authorities to safeguard and welcome New Americans and restore greatness and justice to America’s immigration system.

As president, Governor O’Malley will act immediately to:

Extend Administrative Relief to Millions of New American Families

Deferred action is the broadest, most inclusive, and most important relief that the next president can provide immigrant families. It allows hard-working individuals who already have strong ties to the United States to continue working and contributing to the good of our nation – and to do so within the framework, the opportunities, and the responsibilities of our laws.

Expanding deferred action is well within the president’s legal authority, based on the actions of previous presidents and the longstanding features of American immigration law. While President Obama’s efforts to expand deferred action have been delayed by baseless conservative challenges in the courts, Governor O’Malley is confident – and legal experts almost universally agree – that they will be upheld. But whether or not the president’s executive actions triumph at the courts, O’Malley is committed with moving forward with the additional steps outlined below.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Provide Deferred Action to the Greatest Possible Number of New Americans. To start, O’Malley would direct the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide immediate relief from deportation, with work authorization, to all individuals covered by the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal. This includes the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as all individuals who have strong family and community ties – such as parents of DACA recipients or of young foreign-born children, individuals who have long-term residence in our country, and all young people who entered the United States before the age of 21. The goal is to get as many immigrants who are productive, contributing members of society onto the books and more fully included in our economy.

Expand Access to Waivers to the Three- or Ten-Year Bar

Too many barriers exist that prevent immigrants from legally living and working in the United States. Many immigrants who are entitled to lawful permanent resident status (also known as a green card) must first return to their home countries. Yet if they previously lived in the United States while undocumented, they are then barred from re-entering the United States for three to ten years. This 1990s policy creates a Catch 22 that needlessly hurts American families, punishing individuals even if they are now eligible to legally remain in the United States.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Grant Broad Waivers to the Three- or Ten-Year Bar. While waivers are available to the three- and ten-year bar, very few people are eligible for them. Today, applicants qualify for a waiver only if their bar creates “extreme hardship” to their U.S. citizen parent or spouse. Hardship to the immigrants themselves – or to their children, even if they are U.S. citizens – is not a factor in this decision. O’Malley would immediately issue guidance broadly interpreting “extreme hardship” to greatly limit the three- and ten-year bars, while working with Congress to achieve a permanent repeal.
  • Expand Parole-in-Place. Parole allows immigrants who have resided in the United States unlawfully to have a U.S. citizen of lawful permanent resident sponsor them for a green card without triggering the three- and ten-year bars. DHS already has the authority to parole individuals for humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Indeed, DHS already implemented parole-in-place for the families of members of the U.S. Armed Forces. O’Malley would issue guidance expanding parole-in-place to benefit all spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Expand Access to Naturalization for New Americans

Naturalization is an essential tool for New Americans to have access to the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. It is the foundation on which America’s immigration success story relies. However, barriers to naturalization have resulted inmore than eight million lawful permanent residents who are eligible to naturalize, but have not yet done so.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Conduct Sustained Naturalization Outreach. O’Malley will undertake significant outreach and educational programs to promote naturalization, including U.S. agency, media, and community outreach. This will include directing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to identify and encourage lawful permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship to naturalize, while also expanding access to naturalization by lowering fees as appropriate.

Expand Access to Health Care for New Americans

Health care access is critically needed to strengthen the wellbeing of communities and our nation’s economy. However, New Americans disproportionately lack health insurance because of statutory and regulatory restrictions.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Rescind the Regulations Restricting Health Care for DACA and DAPA-Recipients. The Affordable Care Act provides access to the health care exchanges, tax credit subsidies, and other benefits to individuals who are lawfully present in the United States. However, a 2012 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulation excluded individuals with deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from these affordable health insurance options. O’Malley will rescind this regulation, providing health care access to the approximately five million individuals who are or will be eligible for deferred action under DACA, the proposed DACA expansion, and forthcoming Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

Use Detention Only as a Last Resort

Conditions at immigrant detention facilities are deplorable – and those locked up in them are incarcerated not because they committed a crime, but because they are due to appear months or years later in immigration court. The system denies immigrants due process. It rips apart families. It traumatizes children. And taxpayers pick up the bill.

The Obama Administration has announced a number of reforms to detention policies, but none go far enough – in all but extraordinary circumstances, immigrant detentions must end for good.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Limit Detention to Only Those Who Pose a Clear Threat to Public Safety. The only individuals who should be detained are those who pose a clear threat to public safety or national security. O’Malley will direct DHS to use alternatives to detention for the vast majority of people. He will end the practice of holding children and families in detention centers. He will also end the detention of other vulnerable immigrants, especially LGBTQ individuals. This includes using the family placement and community-based supervision policies he successfully implemented in Maryland.
  • End the 34,000 Bed Quota. Congress requires DHS to maintain 34,000 beds in immigrant detention centers. The agency has historically interpreted this quota as setting a minimum number of beds, and entered contracts with detention centers that require the beds to be filled. Detention numbers should reflect of our actual public safety and national security needs, not an arbitrary target. O’Malley will issue guidance that DHS treat the bed mandate as a ceiling, not a floor – while working with Congress to establish funding levels for detention that reflect our public safety priorities.
  • Close Inhumane Detention Facilities. O’Malley will close or upgrade costly, inhumane, and violent detention centers. This includes the short-term facilities on the U.S.-Mexico border that often do not meet established detention standards. O’Malley will ensure the humane treatment of all detained individuals, increase oversight and monitoring, and bring criminal charges against bad actors. He will also work with Congress to codify higher detention standards and give immigrants a private right of action to enforce these accountability mechanisms.

Restore Due Process Safeguards and Basic Fairness to Immigration Enforcement

Existing laws deny immigrants basic due process protections and foster fear and mistrust of law enforcement. Thousands of immigrants are jailed without a bond hearing while they fight their deportation cases. Immigrants are transferred to detention centers thousands of miles from their homes, do not have access to lawyers, and are pressured to accept deportation to escape the deplorable conditions.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Expand Due Process Protections in the Detention and Immigration System. Our current system lacks due process protections in the judicial and detention context. O’Malley will implement critical reforms, including providing counsel for immigrants in deportation proceedings, increasing the number of immigration judges and courts, ending telephonic and video hearings for detainees, ensuring language access, and holding detention facilities and DHS personnel accountable for constitutional rights violations.
  • Prevent Racial and Religious Profiling. Current S. Department of Justice (DOJ) guidelines include loopholes that permit DHS agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration and the CBP, to profile Americans based on their ethnicity and religion. O’Malley would work with DOJ and DHS to close these unfair loopholes and uphold our constitutional rights.

Disentangle Public Safety and Local Law Enforcement from Immigration Enforcement

President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing called for federal immigration enforcement to be “decoupled” from routine local policing. Our policies have fallen short of their goal to pinpoint and detain individuals who pose a clear and present danger to public safety. Instead, they have created an indiscriminate dragnet that can encourage racial profiling. This undermines the credibility of law enforcement efforts and hurts community safety, eroding the trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement that is critical to identifying and removing dangerous individuals from society.

As president, O’Malley will:

  • Limit the Use of Detainers and Notifications. DHS cannot continue to expect local law enforcement agencies to bear the costs, risks, and liability of holding immigrants based on incomplete investigations and inadequate evidence. O’Malley will direct immigration enforcement agents to obtain warrants from a judge, like any other law enforcement agency, in order to detain immigrants. O’Malley will also direct immigration enforcement agents to stop the routine issuance of U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) notification requests under the new Priority Enforcement Program, which may lead to unlawful detentions and transfers.
  • End 287(g) Agreements. Immigrant and civil rights advocates have rung the alarm for years about the 287(g) program, which also undermines community policing, incentivizes racial profiling, and has been at the heart of some of the worst abuses of immigrants’ civil rights. O’Malley will end the 287(g) jail programs, which are not mandatory and are an outdated and inappropriate way to enforce immigration laws.
  • Respect the Autonomy of States and Localities in Immigration Enforcement. Many states and localities have set policies that limit their cooperation with immigration authorities. The intention of these policies is to protect residents’ rights and build trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities. Many sheriffs and law enforcement officers strongly support these policies because they allow local enforcement to more effectively promote public safety. O’Malley will strongly oppose Congressional efforts that disrespect the autonomy of states and localities by coercing them – through the withholding of federal funding or other mechanisms – to rescind these policies.
  • End the Coercion of Local Law Enforcement through Civil Immigration Warrants. Law enforcement officers across the country refer to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to find out if a person in their custody has outstanding warrants. However, in recent years, ICE has entered civil immigration warrants into NCIC, confusing local police and producing unlawful arrests. O’Malley will provide clear direction, guidance, and training to local and state law enforcement agencies that they do not have the authority to arrest immigrants on civil administrative warrants.

Protect the Border, While Respecting Individual Rights

Effective immigration policy includes border security that bars those who wish us harm, and facilitates the entry and exit of others. However, this goal requires a functioning and efficient legal immigration system. Modern border security extends well beyond the U.S.-Mexico border and recognizes that we must be vigilant and judicious at all U.S. ports of entry.

CBP plays a critical role protecting the American public. In order to effectively secure the border, CBP officers must have the tools, trust, training, and support they need to honorably do their jobs and keep Americans safe.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Promote Smart, 21st-Century Border Security. Existing border security efforts can be wasteful and disruptive to border communities, while failing to address the fluid factors that drive migration. O’Malley will commit the resources needed to modernize and strengthen the border while respecting the rights of border communities. O’Malley will ensure that our border is secure through the strategic use of personnel and technology, extensive training and support for immigration officers, and policies that address the root causes of migration.
  • Ensure That CBP Officers Can Serve with Pride. Politicized congressional mandates have required Customs and Border Protection to hire and deploy hundreds of agents rapidly, sometimes without sufficient training, oversight, and accountability. O’Malley will direct CBP to focus on improving the professionalism, legal knowledge, and integrity of its growing force. He will require CBP to implement the best practices in law enforcement, including equipping officers with body cameras, tracking and disclosing discourtesy and brutality complaints, providing robust training, and holding agents accountable for excessive force.
  • Refocus Border Enforcement on Securing the Actual Border. In terms of the area policed, the U.S. border is now 100 miles inland from any land border or coast. Roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population lives within this 100-mile zone. As a result, border agents regularly patrol areas far removed from the actual border, including neighborhoods and urban municipalities. O’Malley will protect the civil rights of residents who live near the border by directing border patrol agents to focus on border security, not interior law enforcement.
  • Focus on the Most Important Cases. Under Operation Streamline, federal attorneys criminally prosecute virtually all undocumented immigrants that enter through the Southern border for illegal entry and reentry. Thousands of immigrants who try to enter or re-enter the United States are the parents of U.S. citizens who are attempting to reunite with their children and loved ones. O’Malley will direct federal prosecutors to focus on priority cases that advance national security, address violent crime or financial fraud, and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

Goal-2

While Governor O’Malley will use executive action to the full extent of his authority, he understands that administrative relief is no substitute for Congressional action. There is a clear consensus among the American people for comprehensive immigration reform that restores legality, confidence, coherence and pride in our immigration system. There is significant support for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, but a failure of political will and leadership has stymied progress.

Our outdated immigration system has locked out millions of people from our economy and does not meet the needs of our modern, digital, and globalized workforce. Nor does it reflect our values of inclusiveness, innovation, and dignity for all people.

Securing comprehensive immigration reform has not been easy, but with new and principled leadership, and a commitment to action, O’Malley knows we can – and must – achieve it.

Forge Consensus to Achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform

In Maryland, O’Malley forged a new consensus to secure the rights of New Americans. As Governor, he campaigned for and signed Maryland’s version of the DREAM Act, providing all children the opportunity to afford higher education and compete in Maryland’s economy. When the law was contested, he successfully championed it in a referendum, making Maryland the first state to defend the DREAM Act at the ballot box. He lobbied for and signed legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses so they could safely get to work and obey the rules of the road. Throughout his 15 years of executive experience, O’Malley forged – not followed – public opinion on immigration, bringing people together to get the job done.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Enact and Implement Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Governor O’Malley will never delay nor stop fighting for comprehensive immigration reform. From the first days of his Administration, he will work with Congress to modernize our immigration system and secure a path to full and equal citizenship for New Americans. O’Malley believes that this is an economic, moral, and national security imperative – one that is enshrined in our founding principles as a nation.

Overhaul the Legal U.S. Immigration System

The basic architecture of the U.S. immigration system dates back to the 1960s. Rigid visa caps – putting unrealistic and rigid quotas on who can contribute to our country – have remained virtually unchanged since that time. This outdated system puts the United States at a serious disadvantage – making us unable, as we have in every other generation, to welcome the best and brightest people from around the world and those willing to work hard and honestly to build our economy. This includes the hundreds of thousands of students who study at and earn degrees in engineering, science, and business at U.S. universities, but are unable to apply their talents in our economy.

As president, Governor O’Malley will:

  • Create an Independent Agency to Set U.S. Immigration Policy. Comprehensive immigration reform should build a new, nimble, and responsive immigration system—one that will prevent our country from ever needing to fight for comprehensive reform again. O’Malley will call for a reform bill to create a new, independent body housed within the executive branch. The agency will make recommendations to Congress regarding immigration levels and visa requirements. The recommendations would be based on rigorous and non-partisan analysis and market needs – supplying additional H-1B visas, creating new visas to attract and retain foreign innovators, establishing protections for workers, and complimenting and upholding the American workforce.
  • Address Employment Barriers for Foreign Professionals. Roughly one out of five highly skilled immigrants in the United States is unemployed or underemployed, unable to fully contribute their entrepreneurial efforts to America’s success. O’Malley would work with states, Congress, and federal agency partners to address barriers for high-skilled immigrant workers, such as credentialing and licensing requirements and policies; and to better provide language and technical training through the nation’s workforce system.
  • Promote Family Unity. Our immigration system has historically sought to preserve family unity, recognizing that strong families are the foundation of a strong economy. Yet long visa backlogs have kept families apart for many years, and because of a lack of procedural safeguards and due process, thousands of U.S. citizens and their family members have been unlawfully deported. O’Malley will work with Congress so that the supply of visas better meets demand. He will also reform outdated immigration bars so that previously deported individuals with U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relatives could lawfully return to the United States.
  • Restore Judicial Discretion. In recent years our nation rescinded the ability of immigration law enforcement and judges to consider the individual circumstances of a person’s case. O’Malley will ensure that any future immigration legislation contains robust waiver provisions that restore the discretion of law enforcement and judges to consider individual factors—such as family and community ties; the nature, seriousness, and other circumstances of past criminal charges; passage of time; medical conditions; and contributions to community and family.
  • Protect the Diversity Visa. The diversity visa lottery was created to diversify the immigrant population in the United States. Today, about half of diversity visa lottery winners come from Africa. O’Malley would work to ensure that future immigration reform efforts do not gut this critical program.

The President Just Announced This —

Our immigration system has been broken for decades. And every day we wait to act, millions of undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows: Those who want to pay taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else have no way to live right by the law. That is why President Obama is using his executive authority to address as much of the problem as he can, and why he’ll continue to work with Congress to pass comprehensive reform.

ImmigrationPlan

Related Articles: 

The Economic Costs of Inaction on Immigration Reform

Last June, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that would grow our economy and shrink the deficit. But without action from the House to move forward in the last year, our country is losing out on these economic gains.