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It's not Syria holding up immigration reform


By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
updated 8:15 AM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013

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Zuckerberg pushes immigration overhaul

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Ruben Navarrette: Some say Syria kept House from passing immigration reform. That's bogus He says debate over until 2015; bill was cumbersome and porkladen He says sticking points are over things not vital to reform movement, such as citizenship Navarrette: Both parties panicked; Syria gives them out, but it's not the real reason

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette (CNN) -- Blame it on Damascus? No, let's not. This week's preferred media narrative comes in two parts: First, that comprehensive immigration reform isn't just headed to the back burner but will be completely off the stove until 2015 and beyond. And second, that it was the crisis in Syria that pushed the issue off the agenda. After all, we're told, how can Congress concentrate on anything else when it has to decide whether to approve a military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad? The first part is fact, but the second part is fiction. It's true that Congress is done with the immigration debate for the rest of this year. The GOP-controlled House of Representatives might hold a vote on a "reformlite" bill where illegal immigrants get legal status but not citizenship. Or it might offer legal status only to farm

updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013

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David Nathan says David Frum's op-ed shows why Americans are becoming deaf to the critics of pot legalization.

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S.E. Cupp says that maybe winning wasn't the goal of Weiner's comeback, but his embarrassing defeat likely won't help the career of his wife Huma Abedin or his own.

Why we're risking arrest over

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com


Ruben Navarrette Jr.

workers and DREAMers, those publicity-seeking undocumented young people who want preferential treatment because they intend to go to college or join the military. But any hope of a large-scale reform that offers legal status to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States has faded. And because Congress really only shows up for work in oddnumbered years (so members can run for re-election in-between), we'll probably be having this conversation in 2015, 2017 and 2019. It is not true, however, that it was Syria that killed immigration reform for this Congress. That's just a quick and easy explanation -one favored by those who don't understand the issue in all its complexities -- and it's also an excuse that comes in handy for lawmakers looking for an exit door. One of them is Rep. Ral Labrador, R-Idaho, who recently told Univision's Jorge Ramos that it is becoming less likely that immigration reform will pass anytime soon because Congress is turning its attention to Syria. Weeks ago, Labrador walked away from immigration reform efforts in the House. No, a proper autopsy would show that immigration reform is meeting its demise in this Congress for a variety of reasons. Here are three of them: One: The major legislative offering -- the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act -collapsed under its own weight. When the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" unveiled its masterpiece in April, the bill was 844 pages long. The amendment process pushed it past 1,000 pages. The folks who have helped pass immigration reform legislation -i.e., the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act -- before will tell you that when you want to pass legislation, you want the bill to get smaller as time goes on, not the opposite.

immigration

updated 9:28 AM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013

Ai-jen Poo and Terry O'Neill say immigration reform must free up visas for jobs to give women power.

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Could U.S. have stopped Syria's chemical attack?

updated 12:17 PM EDT, Wed September 11, 2013

Bruce Schneier says there are limits to our intelligence apparatus; more data doesn't mean better outcome.

Obama's speech a model of persuasion

updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed September 11, 2013

David Kusnet says postspeech polling shows the president made some headway with Americans on his approach to Syria.

Humanitarian crisis spilling from Syria


updated 8:36 AM EDT, Wed September 11, 2013

Megan Bradley says the global community must help to keep borders open for fleeing refugees, get children into school, and the aid displaced still in Syria

Zuckerberg pushes immigration overhaul

Besides, there was too much pork. Many of the giveways have had nothing to do with immigration but were merely intended to get the support of senator so-and-so from such-and-such state. That's because, as California-based policy analyst Arnold Torres maintains, the debate was always about politics instead of what it should have been about: policy. Torres knows this terrain well, having contributed to the debate over reform in 1986 as executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Many advocates this time around were too busy worrying about passing something, anything, to give a thought to whether what they had on the table was worth passing or how it would be implemented. Two: As broken as Washington is on most issues, when the subject is immigration, it is doubly dysfunctional.

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Rep. Steve King on immigration

Aaron David Miller says despite his description of the gassing of children, the president's case for action on Syria won't persuade warweary Americans that U.S.interests are at stake

Kerry, Clinton and a glimmer of hope on Syria

updated 12:07 PM EDT, Tue September 10, 2013

Immigration overhaul stalled

That town is filled with people who use this issue to further their own agendas. If you interviewed illegal immigrants and asked them what they would have liked to have achieved in the immigration reform process -- and I've done just that

David Rothkopf says Kerry's "goof" remark about Syria yielding chemical weapons to avert strike--and Clinton's backing the idea--may shape

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com


up into a real plan, or at least buy Obama some time.

-- they would ask for three things: a work permit, the ability to travel across borders and a driver's license. What's not on that list? Citizenship and the voting privileges that come with it, which is a repeated deal-breaker for politicians. Washington is also filled with people who think they know more than the folks on the frontlines. If you sat down with Border Patrol agents and supervisors and asked them what they need -- and I've done that, too -- they would ask for new roads on the border, surveillance equipment and tunnel detection capability. Whatever you do, they'd say, don't give us more agents to train and more fencing that doesn't keep out anyone. So what did the Senate bill -- thanks to the Corker-Hoeven "border surge" amendment -offer? More agents and more fencing. Three: The debate has been inherently dishonest, with neither side able to trust the other. Posturing and hot air to the contrary, neither party really wanted to have this debate. It divides their constituencies. Republicans have to referee a civil war between nativists who want less immigration because they fear that the country's complexion is changing, and business interests that want more immigration because they need workers. Democrats have to keep the peace between Latinos who want illegal immigrants to have a pathway to citizenship because they feel their pain, and some members of organized labor, who--despite the fact that their leadership supports reform-- would like to give immigrants a one-way bus ticket to their home country because they fear the competition. The solution? Fool everyone. Republicans talk tough but go soft on employers by creating loopholes and delaying enforcement efforts. Democrats talk soft but pander to working-class Americans by ratcheting up deportations and building walls. Sometimes, it works. Still, it is one heck of a tough spot to be in. Now thanks to the crisis in Syria, members of Congress in both parties have a way out. And, with the enthusiasm of a dying man in the desert reaching for a bottle of water, they're grabbing it. Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

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Jihadist terrorism in America since 9/11

updated 7:54 AM EDT, Tue September 10, 2013

Peter Bergen says the terror threat in America largely comes from loners rather than from al-Qaeda, which hasn't launched a successful attack here in the past 12 years.

NFL concussion settlement raises questions


updated 6:45 AM EDT, Mon September 9, 2013

LaMar Campbell says that key questions about concussions go unanswered in the NFL's settlement with former players.

J.K. Rowling Voyager 1 Syria Breaking Bad

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette.

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suqamidiq

13 hours ago

Jessica Simpson's Daughter May Be The Cutest Little Girl, Ever Refinery29

Only reform needed is to make a change! Change our current inaction on enforcing current laws, Enforce our Immigration laws, No more Federal dollars for States that provide sanctuary cities!
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mk_1001 > suqamidiq

4 hours ago

We do enforce our laws. Our border capture rate is 50% -- which is pretty impressive for a 2,000 mile rugged border where smugglers collect $4,000 per crossing. And even a 95% capture rate (which isn't achievable anyway) doesn't represent a solution. We have many millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. -- some since they were small children -- and even if we turn ourselves into an enforcementfrenzied police state, that won't change.

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Regularguy22 > mk_1001

Buy a link here 3 hours ago

We do not enforce our laws. We allow identified illegals to stay


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mk_1001 > Regularguy22

3 hours ago

Our laws conflict with each other. Our laws say that we can't spend money that isn't approved in

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com

the federal budget. The DOJ / ICE is only funded to deport 400,000 people per year, and we deport the maximum. No one has the stomach to spend what it would take (and endure the police state it would take) to deport more. Our laws also say that minor children can't be charged with crimes. And our laws say that we can't deport people who don't have a home to return to. Which of these laws would you ignore?
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iron76 > mk_1001

an hour ago

Every life on the earth has the right to purchase a better life, no matter where he is from and how he came ! Those who are purchasing a happy life are never criminals !!! On the contrary, those who are against human rights are criminals and they are pigheaded, idiots ...
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Jim > mk_1001

3 hours ago

How do you know that the border capture rate is really 50%? How many illegal immigrants are really in this country? I seriously doubt that anyone actually knows, and chances are the capture rate is lower than 50% and the illegal immigrant numbers are much higher than 11 million. People coming here illegally would be better served by staying in their native country and making it a better place for them to live and prosper.
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mk_1001 > Jim

2 hours ago

Independent studies and audits using different methodologies have produced similar estimates close to that figure. If you think the capture rate is much lower, then that's all the more reason to recognize that throwing more money at border security won't solve the problem. And let's not forget that 40% of illegal immigrants arrived legally and overstayed their visas. And a few more are smuggled by boat across oceans.
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remmett70

12 hours ago

We don't need reform. We need enforcement of the existing laws and system.
49

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http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com

alphacat4 > remmett70

10 hours ago

Because those laws are working so well, Yeah right. The laws are not being enforced because they don't work, not the other way around. We are deporting illegals in record numbers. What evidence do you offer that the laws are not being enforced? The numbers are telling a different story.
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BeanAdult > alphacat4

9 hours ago

Send employers to jail for hiring illegals. That will end it.
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Dnice > alphacat4

9 hours ago

Hogwash , we need to deport them ALL. But they will self deport if we stop giving them everything. E verify, renting apts, driver licenses. But no worries the dems are going to crash the economy in no time , then no one will have jobs. See the aca for examples.
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illz > Dnice

8 hours ago

Hmm..aren't you repubs always going on about job killing regulations?


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Wastrel Way > Dnice

4 hours ago

I had a better idea years ago. Mexico approves of the invasion of the US by its people and aids and abets them. Congress is supposed to protect the US from invasion. Declare war on Mexico, just on paper. Don't attack Mexico, but try illegals as spies under the Geneva Convention and execute them. Then you'll start seeing some self-deportation.
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Reckless > Dnice

6 hours ago

Do you realize that deporting all of them will seriously harm our economy? You're taking their purchasing power out of our economy. Which means layoffs unless you want to pick produce for less than minimum wage.
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Chris Engel > Reckless

6 hours ago

Bunk, what they really do is depress wages for American workers....and yet the same people wonder why income equality is so drastic. If you flood the labor market with surplus labor then

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com

a workers ability to negotiate for fair compensation for his work goes down. The employer can take more in proffit and his real purchasing power goes up compared to the employee. Worse yet, not even the immigrant can really get by on the minimal wages they are paid.....they need to augment that by seeking out social services which are paid by the American taxpayer, essentialy subsidizing the employers ability to pay low wages. The middle class getting nailed on both ends. Adding insult to injury a good portion of the immigrants "purchasing power" isn't even spent here....it's sent home in terms of cash payments to thier country of origion where relatives can benefit from a favorable exchange rate on the dollar. That's why money sent home is such an important part of Mexico's economy. What actualy happens if the farmer can't find someone to pick produce at slave wages is that they have to raise the compensation offered for that job (benefitting the worker)...... or new market opportunity arises for companies to produce and sell automated equipment to do that job....again spurring the economy and producing more (and better) job opportunities.
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Reckless > Chris Engel

4 hours ago

Really because I can find countless experts who disagree. Also illegal immigrants can't receive social assistance through the government...... Debates about the economic and fiscal benefits and drawbacks of immigrants typically oversimplify the role that immigrants play in our economy. When one looks more closely, they will find that the impact that immigrants (or any group for that matter) have on the economy is multifaceted and complex. Immigrants are not just workers; they are also consumers and taxpayers. The effects of their labor and consumption on economic growth and fiscal health must be factored in as we consider how to address the situation of a large undocumented workforce. In this report we describe the direct impacts of either deporting or legalizing undocumented workers. In reality, the effects would be much larger. Mass deportation, for example, would result in an indirect negative impact on local businesses because there
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Norman Dostal > Reckless

4 hours ago

wont at all actually

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Reckless > Norman Dostal

4 hours ago

Really because I can find countless experts who disagree. Also illegal immigrants can't receive social assistance through the government...... Debates about the economic and fiscal benefits and drawbacks

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com

of immigrants typically oversimplify the role that immigrants play in our economy. When one looks more closely, they will find that the impact that immigrants (or any group for that matter) have on the economy is multifaceted and complex. Immigrants are not just workers; they are also consumers and taxpayers. The effects of their labor and consumption on economic growth and fiscal health must be factored in as we consider how to address the situation of a large undocumented workforce. In this report we describe the direct impacts of either deporting or legalizing undocumented workers. In reality, the effects would be much larger. Mass deportation, for example, would result in an indirect negative impact on local businesses because there would be less money circulating in the local economy which
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Reckless > Norman Dostal

4 hours ago

I posted studies that support it....

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remmett70 > alphacat4

9 hours ago

You cannot honestly be this dim...


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Steven Szirotnyak > alphacat4

8 hours ago

We're asking illegal immigrants how they would like to see our laws rewritten to benefit them? Mr. Navarrette, please don't run for office. alphacat4, please don't run for office.
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Regularguy22 > alphacat4

3 hours ago

The Obama administration issued a policy late last week telling immigration agents to try not to arrest and deport illegal immigrant parents of minor children a move that adds to the categories of people the administration is trying not to deport. In a nine-page memo issued Friday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said agents should use prosecutorial discretion to try to avoid detaining parents and, if parents are detained, agents should make sure they have the ability to visit with their children or participate in family court proceedings.

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Norman Dostal > alphacat4

4 hours ago

because, dumdum, the laws arent enforced-they would work if enforced

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com

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Wastrel Way > alphacat4

4 hours ago

You are partly correct. They are not working well (I detect your sarcasm) but the federal government allows cities to flaunt them, allows employers to flaunt them, and keeps arrestees in federal facilities at taxpayer expense because they all claim refugee status.

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ThinkStraight > remmett70

8 hours ago

blah blah blah

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Brad4

13 hours ago

If we changed our immigration law what forces the executive branch to follow that law? Already the executive branch ignores our laws and does what, in their opinion, is right. This is a constitutional crisis. The executive branch is not following what it has been directed to do by the constitution. The executive branch was created to execute our laws and that includes the laws they might disagree with.
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freedomliberty13 > Brad4

11 hours ago

The Constitution "forces" the executive to follow the laws. Unfortunately, that concept doesn't work with a lawless administration that uses the Constitution as a rug to wipe their feet on. Germany once had good laws & a Constitution. Their problem was that Hitler just ignored them and forced laws to give him increasingly more power.
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Lance Sjogren > Brad4

12 hours ago

You can trust Obama to enforce the new immigration law because the new immigration law abolishes enforcement of the immigration laws!
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freedomliberty13 > Lance Sjogren

11 hours ago

As he has done with ObamaCare, he will enforce the parts he likes and change or ignore the parts he doesn't like.
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ThinkStraight > freedomliberty13

8 hours ago

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com

Except that he helped write the law so your comment makes no sense.
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freedomliberty13 > ThinkStraight

8 hours ago

Can you please point me towards the section of our Constitution that says "our president can unilaterally delay, delete or change parts of ANY law WITHOUT Congress voting to amend it, IF he suggested parts of it when it was being created, voted upon and signed into law." I missed that part.
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ThinkStraight > freedomliberty13

5 hours ago

If you understood what the constitution does then you would know that such language wouldn't appear there. Delaying pieces of legislation is actually quite routine under administrations of both parties. You can research the supreme court case Heckler vs. Chaney for one example of legal precedent. BTW if you don't like the Affordable Care Act why are you upset about a piece of it being delayed? Your condescension is not appreciated.
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freedomliberty13 > ThinkStraight

4 hours ago

Like many Americans, I believe that ObamaCare should never have been passed considering: it was done with few or no Congressmen having read it; it required the bribing of at least 2 Dem senators (Landrieu of LA & Ben Nelson of NE) with public money to spend in their states; against public opinion according to the polls; on purely partisan lines (guaranteed to generate opposition when it affects 1/6 of our economy); and in the face of MA sending Sen Scott Brown to be the vote to kill it in the Senate. As you know, it has only become LESS POPULAR now that "they passed it so we could find out what's in it." Yet, none of my above complaints claim any unconstitutionality. SO, the GOP CONSTITUTIONAL tools to FIGHT it include letting it collapse of its own weight and internal contradictions and problems, which I feel Obama is using UNCONSTITUTIONAL means to subvert. The GOP is considering defunding it, but I'm not confident of what will happen there. If all else fails and it moves forward, I'm looking forward to a GOP Prez in 2017, using that same "discretion" Obama has used and that is mentioned in that court case you cited to destroy it and/or fail to enforce it. I think that sword can cut BOTH WAYS.

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ThinkStraight > freedomliberty13

2 hours ago

Are you someone who believes it's a good idea to shut down the

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com

government in order to defund the Affordable Care Act?

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freedomliberty13 > ThinkStraight

2 hours ago

1) First, let's get some facts & logic straight. You've heard the saying "it takes 2 to tango?" Budgets are the same thing. If Obama & Reid would only agree to the GOP proposed budget, there would be no shutdown. If the GOP would only agree to what Obama/Reid wants, there would be no shutdown. So they are equally accountable. 2) Many of the GOP ran & were elected upon the promise to "do everything in their power (considering that the GOP does NOT hold the Senate OR the White House) to slow down or stop ObamaCare." This upcoming budget battle is an opportunity to act upon that promise. The GOP will communicate to voters that they are willing to pass EVERYTHING in the proposed Dem budget EXCEPT OBAMACARE. THEN, if Obama & Reid choose not go along, THEY would be the ones who CAUSED the shutdown because THEY REFUSED to pass the rest of the budget and decided to HOLD THE COUNTRY AS HOSTAGE unless they got their way on Obamacare. Do you really think a majority of Americans will say "are you crazy GOP? WE LOVE OBAMACARE & don't want you to touch it! Stop it or we'll vote you out." I don't think so no matter how much Obama & his media minions try to spin it the other way.

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ThinkStraight > freedomliberty13

2 hours ago

It's a yes or no question. Are you going to answer it? You're ducking and dodging like a politician.

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ThinkStraight > Brad4

8 hours ago

Please provide one good example of what you're talking about.


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my131staccount

13 hours ago

What is killing immigration reform is the realization by Americans that the Democrats want to sell citizenship for future votes.
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ThinkStraight > my131staccount

8 hours ago

Any support for that statement?

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]

Opinion: It's not Syria holding up immigration reform - CNN.com

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Norman Dostal > ThinkStraight

4 hours ago

Common sense makes it true-Hispanics overwhelmingly vote for democrats...sadly, the repubs stupidly think their backing will give them votes too-it wont-it will doom the party even more than fighting women and gays!
1

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MonkeyFace

13 hours ago

No reform is needed, only enforcement of existing laws.

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http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/opinion/navarrette-immigration-stalled/index.html[9/12/2013 8:33:59 PM]