Union Leader: Handling of Immigration Legislation Invites 'Disaster'

Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 06:45 PM

By Todd Beamon

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The union representing 12,000 federal officers who issue immigration documents warned Thursday of 'disaster' if individual reform bills planned by the House of Representatives are combined with the huge immigration legislation passed in June by the Senate.

"Our institutional mission has been corrupted by politics," Kenneth Palinkas, president of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, said in a statement. "I hope these abuses will be examined and fixed before any amnesty proposal is brought forward in the House."

Palinkas, whose union represents officers in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, cited reports that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois were developing individual immigration reform bills.

But "media reports further reveal that these bills may be blended together through a ‘conference’ into a single comprehensive proposal with the extremely dangerous Senate bill," Palinkas warned. "These plans are being pursued before first reforming the very agency, USCIS, that will be charged with reviewing these tens of millions of green card, temporary visa, and citizenship applications.

"Advancing such measures without first confronting the widespread abuses at USCIS would be to invite disaster," Palinkas said.

In June, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill on a 68-32 vote that was backed by 14 Republicans. It includes provisions for a pathway to citizenship and increased border security.

The vote, which came on legislation introduced by the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators in April, sent the bill to the House for consideration.

But the GOP-controlled House said it will not vote on such a huge Senate bill, opting instead to address immigration reform through individual pieces of legislation.

And House Speaker John Boehner, who vowed that the lower chamber would not take an "Obamacare-like" approach to immigration reform, has pledged to not bring any such legislation to the floor for a vote unless it has the support of most of his party's members.

Such differences between the House and Senate versions of the immigration reform bill would be worked out in conference.

Republicans have consistently attacked the Senate bill, saying it amounts to little more than amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants; that it does little to strengthen the nation's borders; and that the Democratic leadership was rushing complex legislation into law.

Meanwhile, Palinkas said on Thursday that any such House legislation should address such USCIS problems as insufficient resources and training to "safely screen and review applicants for immigration benefits" and to "protect taxpayers from abuses of the welfare system by those granted immigration benefits."

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