Syria and Amnesty for Illegal Aliens

By Ronald W. Mortensen on September 4, 2013

Could the president's decision to ask Congress for a resolution supporting military action in Syria be a major setback for the proponents of amnesty for illegal aliens?

Before Syria entered the mix, advocates for "comprehensive immigration reform" were already worried that the limited number of legislative days through the end of the calendar year would make it difficult to pass an amnesty bill that covers both illegal aliens and their employers, in addition to substantially increasing legal immigration.

Recognizing that time was not the friend of immigration reform, President Obama originally said that he wanted Congress to have an amnesty bill on his desk by August, but that deadline came and went. Then the administration called on Congress to complete immigration reform in September. However, at the end of August Cecilia Munoz, a point person for Obama on immigration policy, said that it was unlikely to happen before October. And that was before Syria was dumped in Congress's lap.

There are only nine legislative days in the House in September and passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded was never going to be easy because of attempts to defund Obamacare and to provide relief for the military from the effects of sequestration.

The Syria issue may delay work on a long-term continuing resolution and could result in the passage of a stop-gap measure to keep the government operating for 30 or 60 days, which means Congress would have to address the issue again in November or possibly December. Other bills, along with issues related to the National Security Agency (NSA) and the IRS scandals, will also carry over to October and beyond.

By mid-October the debt limit will be reached and all means of paying America's debts will have been exhausted. Thus, the first half of October will be taken up with the debt ceiling and the second half may have to be devoted to other actions not completed in September and earlier in October. And there is no guarantee that the debt ceiling fight may not extend past mid-October.

Taken together, all of this may well push immigration reform into November along with other unfinished business from previous months. While not looking great, November appears to be best opportunity for amnesty supporters to get some type of immigration bill through the House, assuming that Republican leadership agrees to bring anything forward. However, even if an immigration bill does pass the House, it likely won't be until later in the month, meaning that getting House and Senate bills reconciled before the end of 2013 would be highly unlikely unless extraordinary action were taken by both Republican House and Democrat Senate leadership.

Given the shortage of time, advocates for illegal alien and employer amnesty are looking frantically for ways to push immigration reform to the forefront in the House. The House's Gang of Seven is promising to release its oft-delayed comprehensive immigration reform bill by mid-October. Some advocates are suggesting that a discharge position may be used to bring either that bill or the Senate-passed bill directly to the floor of the House for action.

Others, including Sens. Jon McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), are pushing the House to pass any immigration bill as quickly as possible so a conference committee can be created to ram amnesty for illegal aliens and their employers through by the end of the year.

Still others see Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), a weak-kneed John Boehner (R-Ohio), high-tech billionaires, and lobbying by illegal aliens as the best hope for a path to citizenship for illegal aliens and amnesty for their employers.

And still others, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), are floating the possibility that the Obama administration will exercise the immigration nuclear option and grant every illegal alien in the United States immunity from deportation if Congress doesn't act.

Proponents of amnesty appear to be at a disadvantage time-wise and Syria definitely does not help them; however, they cannot be written off. They have the business, religious, and political establishments solidly behind them while opponents are focused on defunding Obamacare, the budget, the debt ceiling, the IRS scandals, the NSA's data collection programs, and other policy issues that make it hard for them to put up an effective, united front against amnesty.