Senate Chairman Calls for Action on Immigration - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Senate Chairman Calls for Action on Immigration

Posted:
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. greets President Barack Obama after the president gave his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (Photo: AP) Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. greets President Barack Obama after the president gave his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (Photo: AP)

WASHINGTON (AP)— The Senate opened its first hearing on a comprehensive immigration overhaul Wednesday with a call from a committee chairman for swift action on a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. Tensions quickly emerged as shouting protesters interrupted the hearing and Republicans called for border security first.

"The president is right: Now is the time," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told a packed hearing room a day after President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to renew his call for immigration reform and eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The emotions surrounding the issue were on display as protesters shouted down the first witness, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, calling for an end to deportations.

The protesters were ushered out. Napolitano declared the border more secure than ever and rejected the argument that border security must be the focus before comprehensive immigration reform or any pathway to legalization can be done.

"Too often the border security refrain simply serves as an excuse," Napolitano said. "Our borders have in fact never been stronger."

A top committee Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., quickly contradicted her and Leahy, saying the administration has not focused sufficiently on enforcement, and contending that "you mean amnesty only, you really mean we're not going to have enforcement, we've got to have amnesty first."

The hearing came amid a concerted focus on immigration reform from the White House to Capitol Hill. Obama says he is determined to finally make good on his promise to the Latino community to sign into law a comprehensive immigration bill with border security, employer enforcement, improvements to legal immigration and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of eight senators has been meeting to develop a bill by next month that accomplishes eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants while also containing enough border security and enforcement measures to gain conservative support.

It comes amid a rapidly shifting political environment with polls showing more Americans support eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants, and many Republican leaders increasingly supportive of action on immigration reform in the wake of a dismal showing among Latino voters in the November elections.

Yet, as Wednesday's hearing made starkly clear, the success of any legislation is no sure thing with many Republicans still deeply skeptical.

Several Republicans on the panel rejected Napolitano's contention that the border is secure, questioned why earlier immigration laws never yielded the promised enforcement mechanisms, and branded as "amnesty" attempts to legalize illegal immigrants.

"I do not believe the border is secure and I still believe we have a long, long way to go," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Protesters interrupted the hearing several times, with some shouting and waving banners against deportations, which have increased markedly under the Obama administration. Later another group stood and turned their backs to the dais where the senators sat, with signs on their backs reading "human rights" and "immigrant rights." Leahy repeatedly chided the protesters for interrupting proceedings.

In an unusual move for Congress the hearing was also to feature testimony from an illegal immigrant, Jose Antonio Vargas, a former journalist who founded the group Define American, which campaigns for immigration reform.

The former head of America Online, Steve Case, also was on the witness list, along with Chris Crane, president of the immigration and customs' workers union, which has opposed Obama's immigration policies.

The bipartisan Senate negotiators, including Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are operating separately from the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the committee is expected to vote on any legislation they produce.

A major difference between Obama's proposals and the blueprint embraced by the bipartisan Senate negotiators is that the senators are making a pathway to citizenship conditional on border security being accomplished first — something Republicans demand — while Obama's plan contains no such linkage.

Vargas acknowledged his illegal status in a high-profile piece in The New York Times Magazine in June 2011 but thus far has avoided deportation. He was part of a Washington Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre. He wrote in his Times essay that his mother sent him from the Philippines to live with grandparents in California in 1993 when he was 12. He wrote that he didn't find out he was in the country illegally until he applied for a driver's permit with forged documents.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Sussex County Veteran Honored for Service in WWII

    Sussex County Veteran Honored for Service in WWII

    11/15/2017 22:42:00 -05:002017-11-16 03:42:00 GMT
    Monday, November 20 2017 9:39 PM EST2017-11-21 02:39:53 GMT
    Courtesy of Rosely RobinsonCourtesy of Rosely Robinson
    A Sussex County veteran was honored Wednesday for his service and sacrifice during WWII in a surprise visit by a Hero's Welcome Delaware.More
    A Sussex County veteran was honored Wednesday for his service and sacrifice during WWII in a surprise visit by a Hero's Welcome Delaware.More
  • Lewes Woman Without Fridge As Holidays Approach

    Lewes Woman Without Fridge As Holidays Approach

    11/20/2017 18:32:00 -05:002017-11-20 23:32:00 GMT
    Monday, November 20 2017 9:14 PM EST2017-11-21 02:14:47 GMT
    SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. - A Lewes woman says a broken refrigerator has left her feeling frustrated after six weeks of visits by repairmen, but no solution.Candace Raines purchased a Kenmore Elite from Sears five years ago and purchased the protection plan alMore
    SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. - A Lewes woman says a broken refrigerator has left her feeling frustrated after six weeks of visits by repairmen, but no solution.Candace Raines purchased a Kenmore Elite from Sears five years ago and purchased the protection plan alMore
  • WBOC & FOX21 Return to Verizon FiOS Lineup

    WBOC & FOX21 Return to Verizon FiOS Lineup

    11/20/2017 18:55:00 -05:002017-11-20 23:55:00 GMT
    Monday, November 20 2017 6:55 PM EST2017-11-20 23:55:12 GMT
    Draper Media has reached a new multi-year agreement which immediately returns WBOC-TV, FOX21 and Antenna TV to Verizon FiOS customers in Sussex and Kent counties in Delaware.More
    Draper Media has reached a new multi-year agreement which immediately returns WBOC-TV, FOX21 and Antenna TV to Verizon FiOS customers in Sussex and Kent counties in Delaware.More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Former Smyrna Middle Teacher Pleads Guilty to Sex With Students

    Former Smyrna Middle Teacher Pleads Guilty to Sex With Students

    11/20/2017 07:40:00 -05:002017-11-20 12:40:00 GMT
    Monday, November 20 2017 7:43 AM EST2017-11-20 12:43:02 GMT
    Karen BrooksKaren Brooks
    A former teacher at Smyrna Middle School in Delaware has pleaded guilty to fourth-degree rape after she admitted to a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy.More
    A former teacher at Smyrna Middle School in Delaware has pleaded guilty to fourth-degree rape after she admitted to a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy.More
  • Bridgeville Meth Bust Made In Transit

    Bridgeville Meth Bust Made In Transit

    11/19/2017 18:12:00 -05:002017-11-19 23:12:00 GMT
    Sunday, November 19 2017 6:12 PM EST2017-11-19 23:12:22 GMT
    Delaware State Police arrested a Greenwood man after a traffic stop revealed methamphetamine in the car.More
    Delaware State Police arrested a Greenwood man after a traffic stop revealed methamphetamine in the car.More
  • Shots Fired at Slaughter Beach Home

    Shots Fired at Slaughter Beach Home

    11/19/2017 20:14:00 -05:002017-11-20 01:14:00 GMT
    Sunday, November 19 2017 8:22 PM EST2017-11-20 01:22:52 GMT
    The Delaware State Police are currently investigating an incident in which shots were fired at a home on Bay Avenue.More
    The Delaware State Police are currently investigating an incident in which shots were fired at a home on Bay Avenue.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • "Hood Fight Salisbury" Cell Phone Videos

    "Hood Fight Salisbury" Cell Phone Videos

    27 cell phone videos depicting brutal streets fights among teenagers in Salisbury were posted online. Local leaders including the Mayor, State's Attorney and a Reverend react to the media.More
    27 cell phone videos depicting brutal streets fights among teenagers in Salisbury were posted online. Local leaders including the Mayor, State's Attorney and a Reverend react to the media.More
  • Chincoteague's Oldest Saltwater Cowboy Dies at 78

    Chincoteague's Oldest Saltwater Cowboy Dies at 78

    Many today mourned the loss of the oldest Chincoteague Saltwater Cowboy. Wesley Bloxom was best known for his passion and involvement in the Chincoteague Pony Swim, one of Delmarva's biggest events. Today, his life was celebrated. Caroline Coles reports.

    More

    Many today mourned the loss of the oldest Chincoteague Saltwater Cowboy. Wesley Bloxom was best known for his passion and involvement in the Chincoteague Pony Swim, one of Delmarva's biggest events. Today, his life was celebrated. Caroline Coles reports.

    More
  • Two Milford Shootings Prompt Investigations

    Two Milford Shootings Prompt Investigations

    Milford Police are investigating a pair of overnight shootings. The first took place in the 200 block of Northwest 3rd Street around 2:18 am. It’s been reported an unknown male suspect shot a male victim twice and at an occupied home striking it multiple times. The second shooting took place in the 300 block of Northwest 4th Street at approximately 5:09 am, where a suspect or multiple suspects shot and struck an unoccupied parked vehicle.

    More

    Milford Police are investigating a pair of overnight shootings. The first took place in the 200 block of Northwest 3rd Street around 2:18 am. It’s been reported an unknown male suspect shot a male victim twice and at an occupied home striking it multiple times. The second shooting took place in the 300 block of Northwest 4th Street at approximately 5:09 am, where a suspect or multiple suspects shot and struck an unoccupied parked vehicle.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices