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November 15, 2006

Dems must pick point person before immigration debate

By Bill Swindell, CongressDaily, November 10, 2006

“The Democratic takeover of Congress might revive chances for passing a comprehensive immigration package that would include a pathway to citizenship for most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Democrats have been more amenable to such legislation than congressional Republicans, even though President Bush has pushed for such a measure. But first, House Democrats must decide who will be their policy point person -- the Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee chairman -- to shepherd a bill though the House. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, is ranking member of the panel, though there is speculation that Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., might pursue the chairmanship.

Lofgren is ranking member of the Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee. Jackson Lee and Lofgren have the same House seniority; both were elected in 1994. According to one lobbyist, Jackson Lee's positions on the issue have shifted at times, making her a problematic negotiator.

The lobbyist noted that Lofgren is a former immigration lawyer who taught the subject at the University of Santa Clara and has worked with Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., on legislation that would expand the allotment of H1-B visas for high-tech workers.

"She [Lofgren] is very knowledge about the details on how to make the immigration system functionable on the ground," said Ben Johnson, director of immigration policy center at the American Immigration Law Foundation.

House Democrats probably would have to work with Republicans such as Dreier, and Reps. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Chris Cannon of Utah to move legislation because some of their newly elected members -- such as Reps.-elect Brad Ellsworth of Indiana and Heath Shuler of North Carolina -- took harder-line stances on immigration during their campaign.

House Republicans also must select a ranking member for the panel, as Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman John Hostettler of Indiana lost to Ellsworth…”.

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Posted by VisaLawyer at November 15, 2006 02:50 PM

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