April 27th, 2010
03:07 PM ET
4 years ago

Hoyer: Senate must go first on immigration reform

The U.S. border fence pictured in a file photo.
The U.S. border fence pictured in a file photo.

Washington (CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was cautious Tuesday about whether the House can muster the votes to pass an immigration bill before the upcoming midterm elections.

"We'll have to see," the Maryland Democrat said at his weekly meeting with reporters. "We'll have to see what the Senate can do."

Because the last major effort to overhaul immigration in 2007 fell apart in the Senate and there are currently so many other bills passed by the House that still await Senate action, Hoyer said there's an agreement among leaders to see what kind of legislation can pass in the Senate before the House tackles the controversial issue. So, the leading Democrat said, it's up to the Senate to take the lead on crafting a new proposal.

While Hoyer said there is agreement on the need for stronger enforcement at the borders, he conceded that there is division within Democratic ranks about how to deal with undocumented immigrants already in the county. Hoyer said he supports a comprehensive bill that includes stronger enforcement measures for border security, penalties for those in the country illegally, and a path toward citizenship.

The House Majority Leader also criticized current federal enforcement efforts at the border, telling reporters he agrees with those in Arizona who pushed for a new law to crack down on the flow of illegal immigrants into the state.

"In part, of course, what the people of Arizona are saying is that the feds haven't done their job. I think they're right: the feds haven't done their job," he said.

But the Maryland Democrat criticized the new state law's enforcement mechanism.

"I think the law that was passed was a law that was very inconsistent with past practices in America that we don't go around asking people for I.D. cards."

He added, "the troubling thing about Arizona is that it's very difficult to see how that's going to be carried out in a way that's consistent with the civil liberties of citizens – very difficult to see how law enforcement officers are going to interpret - how they're going to have probable cause or reason to believe other than ethnic appearance."

Noting that the president has been focused on health care and financial regulatory reform, Hoyer sidestepped a question about whether President Obama needs to be more engaged in order to bridge Democratic differences on immigration.

"So the President is, I think is focused on issues as they come up, but he's said repeatedly he's for comprehensive immigration reform and he'd like to see it move."


Filed under: House • Immigration • Steny Hoyer
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Bob in PA

    Here we go again – sneak it in through the back door like they did the health care debacle.

    April 27, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Enforce the existing laws and put the military away from Iraq and on the border instead. What good is a fancy mega$ expensive military if we can not even defend our own borders? All the trillions wasted on the War on Drugs and Terror – when people can simply walk right across the border 24 x 7 and smuggle tons of drugs, criminals and who knows what else.

    April 27, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. dale

    I can't believe it. Hoyer actually agrees with az and the reps? Maybe there's hope after all. Not to mention it would sink an already broke country.

    April 27, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. George & Weezie

    We doesn't think its a good idear to let more emingrant people in. If they going to help pay for are food stamps and are insurance then ok they can come.

    April 27, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. TCM

    yeah, gotta secure all those "illegals," into becoming legal so they can vote for Obama and be on the gravy train....that way instead of 47% of the country not paying taxes, it'll be more like 55%...then, we'll all suffer a VAT...and end up in an "all's fair, equality...state..." Meaning if you had anything that you've worked for and saved, they government will help you spread it to the lazies...way to go liberals....

    April 27, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. j

    If the feds are too chicken, then the states must do something to protect their borders.--- Go Arizona !!!!

    April 27, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. Kay

    Here goes EVERYONE'S protection Rights to probable cause! Cops already make up garbage to legally stop people... NOW they won't need a reason at all! As far as Arizona goes... I think the cops should be "legally" allowed to stop EVERY white person "just because" for about a month... I bet Arizona would change its tune in thinking then! ESPECIALLY when they find that half of them are drunk! The SAME old white people in Arizona who support this immigration bill are the VERY people who have been hiring illegal immigrants as the cheapest labor they can find to work on their "ever so perfect homes". In fact, I'm even related to some!!!

    April 27, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Coaster

    There is no real immigration reform without addressing the very serious issue of people coming to our country illegally for the purpose of having their babies.

    The United States cannot afford to continue to be the financial parent of illegal immigrants' children. The law should be changed. IF you are in our country illegally and give birth, that child is not considered a citzen.

    That would also eliminate all the whining about how families are "broken up" when illegals have their children here, and when discovered, and are threatened with deportation but their children are American citizens. I'm tired of listening to these people blame our laws and those who endorece the laws when they are the ones breaking the law and putting their own children at risk.

    People are abusing the openness our our country, and the civil rights afforded legal citizens of America, to turn our country into a third-world mess, complete with cradle-to-the-grave entitlement policies. Enough is enough! Border patrols, fences, beefing up security is part of the solution. Elminating the financial incentives is the other part.

    April 27, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. Obama the liar

    I agree--deportation for law breakers, otherwise we will become the United States of Mexico.

    April 27, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. Observer

    We DO NOT NEED AMNESTY so the Democrats can have more votes, we need Border Patrol and Protection of The United States Citizens from Violence from many of these people that are coming across the border to pillage, murder, rape, deal drugs, steal, not to mention ruin the economy with their free welfare, medical care, housing and foodstamps.
    This Government and Obama are not doing what they swore to do when voted into office. If they cannot uphold their oath then they need to be taken out of office.

    April 27, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Terry from West Texas

    Let's not blame the federal government for this – at least not federal employees. This country has winked at illegal immigration for a century, including everyone in Arizona. We southwesterners like cheap maids and cheap yard men. A large percentage of us spent more time with the maid than with our mothers. Southwestern employers (hotel, restaurant, farmers, etc.) love cheap off-the-books labor too. I grew up living among and working beside men and women of murky immigration status, and I suspect that many of my good friends and neighbors are illegal, though I have never asked of course.

    We as a nation compromised. We agreed to pass immigration laws and not enforce them – except when police caught a really bad guy he could be deported. When you round up illegals, the farmers and business owners get on the phone and call their Congressman and their legislators, telling them that they can't make money if they can't hire cheap workers. They threaten to withhold financial support in the next election – or contribute to an opponent. So, the Congressman calls Immigration and says, "Hey, guys, turn down the heat in my district. The Immigration administrator wants to keep his job, so he quietly reduces the number of raids and enforcement actions.

    We have all known this all our lives. Its the way we wanted it, except for a brief period in the Depression, again in World War II, and now. During the periods 1900-1930, 1945 – 2000 we had an open border. We had laws, but we didn't enforce them. That way, the Congressman could tell his voters that he voted for tough immigration laws and he could tell his contributors that the tough laws will not be enforced.

    Can there be a living adult American who has not known this?

    April 27, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The Arizona law is unconstitutional whichever way you try to slice it. How about putting the National Guard on the border. That will deter people from crossing the border illegaly.

    April 27, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. dennis

    You people what don't you understand illegal means they are hear against the law. Legal is they are here obeying the law. You people need to go back to school. ILLEGAL means nonononono. I am sick and tired of paying for these people to be here and get free schooling when my own kids have to pay to get schooling . This is BullSh**.

    April 27, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. Mike in Red State Kansas

    Okay people lets not get played. Lets look at this from a different perspective. The home state of the beaten candidate has now passed a controversial law that begs Washington thru it current leaders to step in. What would be the big picture here?

    Obama steps in fights Arizona's new law thereby further infuriating the right and maybe even some on the left.

    People do we really think the jobs held by those here illegally are going to get filled by the populace of the unemployed in the area? Are the unemployed going to pick produce for $3.50 an hour? Are they going to work the janitor and construction jobs for sub par wages?

    Put this one on the backburner for now. Allow the labor barons of Arizona to reign in the law enforcement in Arizona, trust the Almighty dollar, they will.

    Keep our eyes on Wall Street and Finance Reform for now. Do not allow the losing candidate's state to aid their party in this distraction.

    It takes more than One year to clean up an Eight year high pile of elephant dung.

    Yeah I stole this last line but I like it.

    April 27, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. rob

    You people at DNCNN need to READ THE ARIZONA LAW AND REPORT ON WHAT IT ACTUALLY SAYS.

    There are rules in it that only allow police officers to ask for ID"s if they have stopped someone for a "Lawfull" reason like a traffic stop, or some other reason a police officer may have a "Reasonable" justification to stop someone. Everytime I'm stopped on the road I am asked for my License, Ins ID and Registration Card, if I don't have it they may will fine me or worse.

    As usuall the Dems will make a purely political grandstand about this law with the help of there friends in the Liberal MSM.

    April 27, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Hammerer

    Immigration reform must be passed and the law must be enforced. The laws is that there is a path to follow to enter the US legally. If an immigrant is not in the US legally they should be deported immediately. Mob rule should be allowed.
    Our supposed leaders are saying that America must follow the law, but they have been neglect in enforcing the law. They expect American citizens to obey the law while millions of illegals are allowed to ignore the law.
    This sets up mob rule and all order is lost.

    April 27, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. ib

    if this thing passes it will be another disaster just like Obamacare for this country.

    April 27, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    The democrats are afraid of this and will wait until after midterms to address it from fear from the damage of the health care bill .

    April 27, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Hehe...this will make the GOP angry, because they know darn well that the immigration reform debate is going to result in them looking like xenophobe racist morons if they're not VERY careful about how they frame their arguments and dissembling. Even then, smart people will be able to see through it. It's not hard to when you read comments from the GOP's minions spouting idiocy about the government giving all illegals medicare, government sponsored insurance and free housing or talking as though the only people who can be terrorists are muslims, etc. Not to mention the whole crazy conspiracy about Obama being a muslim born in Kenya shipped to Hawaii to be raised and educated at America's finest schools, managing to outperform most others, and then become state senator, US senator and then a manchurian POTUS...all so he can hand the country to muslims by destroying us from the inside.

    Wanna see their heads explode? Post more stories on the website about the shifting race balance in America and how white people will be a minority in a decade or two. That has them so angry and scared they don't know whether they're coming or going.

    April 27, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. JP

    How much higher will we have to raise taxes to provide ObamaCare when idiots like you make the illegals citizens.

    • Between 1989 and 2007, immigrants and their U.S.-born children accounted for 71 percent of the increase in the uninsured.
    • Today, more than one out of every four uninsured U.S. residents is an immigrant.
    • There are 14.5 million immigrants and their U.S.-born children without health insurance, 32 percent of the uninsured.
    • The foreign-born make up 27 percent of the uninsured population in the U.S.
    • 48 percent of immigrants and their children are either uninsured or depend on Medicaid.
    • Approximately 65 percent of illegal aliens in the U.S. are uninsured.
    • In some hospitals, as much as two-thirds of total operating costs are for uncompensated care for illegal aliens.
    • 425,000 births a year in the U.S.—more than 1 in every 10 births—is to an illegal alien mother.
    • Although a national total of annual unreimbursed medical expenses for illegal aliens is not available, it is likely that those costs are more than $10.5 billion.

    April 27, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. R. Wood

    By all means Democrats, take all the support and goodwill generated by the debate on financial reform legislation, and erase it, just before the mid-term elections with a divisive immigration reform debate. Basically, Sen. Reid, who desparately needs Hispanic Nevada votes to keep his seat, is about to sacrifice the rest of his party.

    April 27, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. Beverly H Tatum

    That would be a fools errand. Republicans will obstruct and fight against immigration reform just like they have done with healthcare, financial re-regulation of the banks, and now immigration.

    Why? Because Republicans are only there to protect the abusive insurance companies, the corrupt banks, and the law-breaking employers who hire illegal aliens. Republicans collect money from all these special corporate interests to work AGAINST you and I.

    Not one Republican can be trusted. We need to rid Congress of all these dishonorable, lying, in the gutter slime, and anti-American traitors of the People. They want America to fail. They are racists who hate that we have a brilliant, successful, BLACK President who is restoring this country without one vote from them.

    NO MORE of these dangerous domestic terrorists who want to destroy our government and our normal legislative process. We need real leaders who wll SERVE, who have SOLUTIONS, and can speak a sentence without a lie in it.

    The Democrats have DELIVERED for the People. All legislation passed this year has been to benefit you and I. All of it has been to help working families fight off abuses of insurance companies, banks, credit card companies, and companies who send our jobs overseas. Stand up for the Democrats who have stood up for YOU!

    April 27, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Yes go for the immigration bill before midterms so the people of this country will know who to vote out of office .

    April 27, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. Capt. Snarky

    Secure the Border!!!!
    Eliminate the Anchor Baby clause
    Stop allowing Illegals to access our Social Services with impunity.

    I have no problem with individuals from foreign countries wanting to emmigrate to America – it is the best place on the planet. I DO want them to come LEGALLY, I want them to pay taxes and contribute.

    If they aren't willing to do that, Deport them pronto!

    April 27, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |