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Questions to Consider About Group of Eight Immigration Proposal PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 15 April 2013 07:41

Prepared Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Questions to Consider About Group of Eight Immigration Proposal

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mr. President,

For months, members on both sides of the aisle have been working to find common ground on ways to fix our broken immigration system.  This group has been meeting behind closed doors to forge a consensus on a very difficult topic.  The group released a framework, or a document of principles, that would guide their negotiations.  I cannot stress the importance of the first sentence in their preamble that states, “We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited.” In other words, the group claimed to understand that we need a long-term solution to our immigration problems.  That sentence is the most important part of their document, and as we work together on this issue, we must not lose sight of that goal.

In order to achieve that goal, we need to learn from our previous mistakes so that we truly don’t have to revisit the problem.  There is clear evidence that the 1986 amnesty program didn’t solve our immigration problem, despite the intent of the law.  Even though, for the first time ever, we made it illegal to knowingly hire or employ someone here illegally, illegal immigration soared because we rewarded the undocumented population.  We set penalties to deter the hiring of people here illegally. Yet, an industry of counterfeiting and identity theft flourished and made a mockery of the law.

Unfortunately, the 1986 law didn’t adequately provide for securing our borders or provide the tools to enforce the laws. Nor did it properly address the need to create or enhance the legal avenues for people to enter the country.  The bill focused on legalizing millions of people here rather than creating a system that would work for generations to come.

So, I’ve made a point of trying to remind my colleagues that we must learn from the mistakes we made.  As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I have been adamant about making sure all members have an opportunity to review, analyze and debate the bill.  Along with other members, we have asked for hearings.  We have pressed the bipartisan group to work with us and ensure that we have a deliberative and healthy debate.

Unfortunately, this bipartisan group has failed to consult with many members of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration matters.  They’re working with the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO.  They’re sharing language with K Street and interest groups.  They are leaking details of their plans to certain media outlets.  Yet, members of the Senate are forced to learn through these avenues about their negotiations.  And, all along, the American people have been in the dark.

When the bill is unveiled, possibly next week, every member of the Senate will have questions.  We’ll comb through the details and determine if the proposal will truly fix the problems once and for all.  So, allow me to share some of the questions I have.  In an effort to ensure that the bill does what their framework insisted – that the problem be fixed once and for all – I will ask these questions when the bill is finally revealed to the public.

·         Is this bill enforcement first or legalization first?

·         What is the expected cost?  How will it be paid for?

·         Will the bill ensure that undocumented immigrants don’t get public benefits?

·         Will the bill move us closer to a merit-based system?

·         Will the bill be an avenue for labor unions to push Davis Bacon?

  • What are the concrete metrics used to measure border security?
  • Who will determine that these metrics are met?  Will it be Congress, a commission, or a Secretary who doesn’t think that the border matters?
  • Will the entry/exit system Congress mandated in 1996 finally be implemented? Will it be a part of the trigger?
  • Will the language be tight enough to prevent criminals, those with DUIs and other aggravated felonies from being eligible for legalization?
  • Will individuals already apprehended, or people in removal proceedings be eligible or even allowed to apply for the legalization program?
  • Will the bill ensure that the legalization program is covered by beneficiaries, and not taxpayers?
  • What will happen to individuals who do not come forward and register, or get provisional status?
  • What will happen if the border is never secured?  What will be the consequences, including for those that have already received registered provisional status?
  • Will the agency in charge of immigration benefits be able to handle the additional workload while also preventing fraud and abuse?
  • Will the bill encourage cooperation between the federal government and state and locals to enforce the laws?
  • How will the bill ensure that ICE agents are allowed to do their job?
  • Will E-Verify be mandatory for all businesses?  Will there be exceptions to the rule?
  • Will the bill require all businesses to use E-Verify now, or will it drag out the requirement even though it’s ready to go nationwide?
  • Will the bill exempt or preserve state laws that require E-Verify?
  • What are the concessions to the unions and to the business community?
  • Will the new temporary worker program, which is a new model encompassing instant portability, truly work?  How will employers be held responsible for the visa holders, if at all?
  • Is the new temporary worker program truly temporary?  Will they get a special green card process?
  • Will the bill exempt certain industries, like construction, from this new visa program?
  • Will the 11 million people here illegally get priority in this new temporary worker program?  Will they be able to use it?
  • Will the bill require employers to first recruit and hire Americans?

Mr. President, we have a long road ahead of us to pass legislation to reform our immigration system.  We’ll have many more questions, and hopefully, a transparent and deliberative process to improve the bill.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on this issue, and solving the problem once and for all.

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Feinstein, Grassley Introduce Bill to Combat Transnational Organized Crime PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 15 April 2013 07:38
Washington (Apr 11, 2013) —Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today introduced legislation to combat transnational organized crime. The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2013, which passed the Senate unanimously in 2011 but was not considered in the House of Representatives, provides the Justice Department new tools to prosecute foreign drug traffickers.

“Drug traffickers are constantly finding new and innovative ways to avoid prosecution, and we cannot allow them to exploit these loopholes.” Senator Feinstein said. “Congress must provide the Department of Justice with all of the tools necessary to prosecute drug kingpins both at home and abroad.”

“Since drug cartels are continually evolving, this legislation ensures that our criminal laws keep pace.” Senator Grassley said.  “This legislation closes a loophole abused by drug traffickers who intend for drugs to end up in the United States but supply them through an intermediary.”

 

The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2013:

  • Establishes penalties for drug trafficking activity when individuals have reasonable cause to believe that illegal drugs will be trafficked into the United States.  This provision will help the Justice Department build extradition cases on drug kingpins from the Andean countries of Colombia and Peru who often use Mexican drug trafficking organizations as intermediaries to ship illegal narcotics to the United States.
  • Ensures current penalties apply to chemical producers from other countries (including producers of pseudoephedrine used for methamphetamine) that illegally ship precursor chemicals into the U.S. knowing these chemicals will be used to make illegal drugs.
  • Provides a technical fix to the Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act, which increases penalties for the trafficking of counterfeit drugs, by adding a “knowing” requirement so pharmacists can only be held criminally liable if they knowingly sell counterfeit drugs to a customer.

This bill supports the Obama Administration’s July 2011 Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

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DAV has urgent need for volunteer drivers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Paul Janecek   
Friday, 12 April 2013 09:41

The Disabled American Veterans transportation program is in urgent need of voluntary drivers to drive the local DAV van.  The DAV van carries veterans to the Iowa City VA Medical Center for medical appointments and compensation examinations.

The drivers can expect to spend the entire day performing this volunteer service.  Many drivers have told our people that it is a very rewarding and enjoyable experience.

People who would consider volunteering should know that the van is a 12 passenger vehicle that is maintained by the Veterans Administration and is replaced every two years to ensure the safety of the equipment and the passengers.

Interested people should call the QC Chapter at 563-391-1760 or 563-386-3533 to volunteer or learn more about our program.

 

 
Regulatory Reform Initiative Seeks Sunshine, Accountability and Pro-Jobs Environment PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 14:30

WASHINGTON – Working to create an environment for private-sector employers to create jobs and to increase transparency, Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Doug Collins are introducing legislation that would end the practice of enacting federal regulations through sue-and-settle litigation.  Grassley is Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Collins is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and leads the Freshman Regulatory Reform Working Group.

The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act responds to the use of consent decrees and settlement agreements in lawsuits against federal agencies to bind executive discretion.  The end result is rulemaking that implements the priorities of pro-regulatory special interest groups and limits the discretion of succeeding administrations.

“Sue-and-settle litigation damages the transparency, public participation and judicial review protections Congress has guaranteed for all of our citizens in the rulemaking process.  And, it’s a tremendous burden on job-creating businesses, especially small businesses,” Grassley said.  “This kind of regulatory litigation also adversely affects the ability of the executive branch to engage in sound and principled decision-making. The goal of this bill is to make sure all citizens, especially those directly impacted by a proposed regulation, have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process and help ensure the procedure and process used to create these regulations are made in the open.  America’s system of lawmaking and judicial review shouldn’t be distorted or manipulated.”

“The Obama Administration has empowered agencies to subvert the legislative process and manipulate the rulemaking system to achieve their pro-regulation agenda. Strong reforms are needed to protect communities and businesses against burdensome regulations that circumvent the rulemaking process.  This legislation sheds light on the regulation through litigation that is crippling small businesses in my district and across the nation. Improving the public participation and transparency protections of the Administrative Procedure Act is vital to preserving the integrity of the rulemaking process,” Collins said.

Sue-and-settle driven rulemaking takes place under schedules that render notice-and-comment requirements a mere formality, depriving regulated entities, the public and the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of sufficient time to have any meaningful input on the content of final rules.

The sue-and-settle problem has occurred primarily in litigation against regulatory agencies over allegations that agency action has been unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed.  Typically, the defendant agency has failed to meet a mandatory statutory deadline for a new regulation or is alleged to have unreasonably delayed discretionary action.  In addition, agency actions are often politically sensitive, especially when the proposed regulation imposes high costs on the regulated businesses.

With sue-and-settle cases, the resulting consent decree or settlement agreement comes as a surprise to the regulated community and the general public and often provides a short timeline for agency action.  The lack of advance notice and minimal time allowed for the proposal and promulgation of regulations allows agencies to undercut the public participation and analytical requirements of regulatory process statutes.  Accelerated timeframes for proposal and promulgation allow agencies to short-circuit review of new regulations by the OIRA.  The incentive to do this is particularly strong when the plaintiff and the agency agree on what the content of the regulation should be, and seek to effectuate that agreement without input from interested parties and the OIRA.

Senators Tom Coburn, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, John Cornyn, Deb Fischer and Ted Cruz are original cosponsors of the reform proposal in the Senate.  Spencer Bachus, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, and Howard Coble, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet are co-sponsoring in the House.

The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act would require:

·         Greater transparency. Agencies must publish sue-and-settle notices of intent to sue, complaints, decrees, settlements, and attorneys’ fee awards and report on them to Congress.

·         Greater rights for regulated entities and the public. Agencies cannot propose sue-and-settle decrees and settlements to the courts until parties affected by the proposed regulations can intervene and participate in settlement negotiations and the proposed decrees and settlements are published for public notice and comment.

·         Greater judicial scrutiny. Courts weighing proposed decrees and settlements must assure compliance with normal rulemaking procedures and account for agencies’ competing mandatory duties not within the litigation.

·         Greater accountability. The Attorney General must certify to the court his or her approval of proposed decrees that convert discretionary authorities into mandatory duties.

·         Greater flexibility for new administrations. Courts are allowed to review de novo any new administration’s motion to modify a consent decree in light of changed facts and circumstances or competing duties.

 

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Prairie State Legal Services Announces New Awareness and Outreach Program at Rock Island Main Library, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Lisa Lockheart   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 14:23

Rock Island, IL: The Rock Island office of Prairie State Legal Services, Inc., has announced a new public benefits help desk resource for individuals who may need information or assistance in navigating the public benefits system.

Available at two locations in Rock Island, the help desk will be staffed by trained volunteers who can provide assistance, general information and guidance with assistance programs for food, cash, medical and disability, also known as SNAP, TANF, Medicaid and SSI/SSDI. Volunteers can also provide help with general township assistance.

Starting April 15, Prairie State Legal Services Help Desk volunteers will be available from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays on the second floor of the Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, 630 7th Avenue.

The help desk was conceptualized and developed by Prairie State’s AmeriCorps VISTA as part of a comprehensive public benefits awareness and outreach program.

Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. is a not-for-profit law firm that provides free civil legal services to the poor, elderly and people with disabilities. Prairie State has 12 offices serving 36 counties throughout northern and central Illinois. The mission of Prairie State is to provide or coordinate the delivery of high quality legal services to low-income individuals, families and groups.

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