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From seat on Judiciary, Amodei could play outsized role in immigration reform

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 (2 a.m.)

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Mark Amodei

Mark Amodei

When it comes to immigration reform, most in the Nevada delegation want to be sure their constituents know how deeply they care about solving the issue.

Sen. Harry Reid said immigration is his top priority in 2013. Rep. Steven Horsford called immigration reform “the civil and human rights issue of our generation.” Sen. Dean Heller said getting a bill done “sooner rather than later is in everybody’s best interest,” and Rep. Dina Titus said the U.S. has to “fix our immigration system now.”

But the Nevada lawmaker who may end up having the most influence over the immigration reform bill is the one who has, to date, stayed the most silent: Rep. Mark Amodei.

Amodei is the only member of the Nevada delegation who serves on a congressional judiciary committee, which is where immigration legislation will be formed, thanks to a promise from leaders that immigration will be given the full treatment of hearings, markups and amendments — no backroom deals.

That process got under way in the House last week, when the full Judiciary Committee had a day-long hearing on immigration reform. Amodei stayed pretty quiet, listening instead of firing off questions when he was in the committee room.

But in his estimation, immigration is only in the exhibition season, and people should expect to hear from him plenty once the rubber hits the road.

“I expect the first real exchange of words is going to be in the subcommittee,” Amodei said. “So I’ll save my bullets for then.”

Amodei requested to be on Judiciary’s immigration subcommittee to be in the thick of the drafting action he knew would have its moment this Congress. He outranks Rep. Raul Labrador — one of the Republicans seen as crucial to building party support for immigration reform — by one chair. And he approaches the idea of tackling immigration reform with the sort of logic only a representative from rural Nevada could espouse.

“You know, I think of it like public lands bills — this has been rattling around for 15, 20 years? I mean, enough,” Amodei said. “Come on, let’s do something!”

Fair enough. But, many Nevadans might ask, what?

Amodei hasn’t declared himself a fighter for any particular issue. In fact, his views on immigration fall all across the political spectrum.

Like the bulk of the Republicans, he’s for the idea of spending more money on border security and for bringing more temporary labor into the country.

“I’ve always been for improvements in border security,” Amodei said. “And I am not convinced that guest workers are a bad thing. We should have a pathway for people who to come and work. You can’t assume that everyone who comes wants to be a citizen.”

But unlike many members of his party, Amodei is amenable to the idea of a pathway to citizenship — and says an entry program that doesn’t respect the principle of family reunification is a nonstarter.

“I’m willing to look at that — if all you’ve done is broken the immigration law, to be able to earn your way to a state where you can apply for citizenship,” Amodei said. “To come out and say, ‘First and foremost, we’re going to break up your family’? That’s probably not a great first move.”

Being from rural Northern Nevada, Amodei might not seem like the most natural candidate among Nevada lawmakers to take a lead role on issues concerning immigrants, who are clustered more closely in urban Southern Nevada.

But Amodei points out that Hispanics make up 25 percent of his district.

“It’s 1 in 4. No matter how you do the math, that’s a major piece of your constituency, that’s a major interest,” he said. “I think I have as much interest in this as anybody.”

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Discussion: 4 comments so far…

  1. Many are not interested in citizenship and will NOT CONFORM to those requirements. We must operate with a legal presumption that anyone not in full compliance for a red card (or whatever) has entered subsequently and illegally. We must retain our ability to quickly deport and expel (when legal entry is not apparent) those who are not conforming to our laws. We can issue TEMPORARY agriculture-only work permits that do not pass on citizenship--since they have none to pass on. Anyone honoring Mexican independence day and other non-American holidays would be subject to the sanction of expulsion. Anyone not speaking English in all transactions or violating work limitations, would be expelled. Anyone applying for or receiving any form of welfare would be immediately expelled. Anyone found driving without valid license, anyone leaving the scene of an accident, anyone doing any crime would be removed, forfeiting property.



    While every petition, fax, email and phone call against the amnesty is important, signing this petition is by far the most important single thing one of your friends or relatives can do.

    The reason is that signing this petition puts a person into an email system at NumbersUSA that will alert them every time one of their elected officials needs to hear something specific about immigration. Nobody else but NumbersUSA runs a customized grassroots mobilization system like this that constantly gathers information on Capitol Hill about your Members of Congress and then lets you know what they are doing, saying and thinking about immigration policy.

    The New York Times and other mass media have repeatedly stated that NumbersUSA's mobilization network led the efforts that defeated the close-call amnesty efforts of 2007 and 2010. But the forces for open borders are far more powerful today. It will take hundreds of thousands of additional people on the email list to push back the amnesty this time. Please help us by referring the petition widely.


  3. On Nevada Newsmakers, President Reagan's former advisor Ty Cobb said amnesty was the biggest mistake (plus Iran Contra). Reagan authorized 3 million only if the borders were secured and the invasion stopped. Now we have another 15-20 million illegal invaders (ICE data) that EXPECT us to adopt, nurture, and pay for them and everybody else they can import claiming they are relatives. Our economy and culture cannot take this kind of hit. As Ty Cobb and others explained, it's the American working class that takes the biggest hit economically and otherwise. And they explained how studies are all over the place but the net effect is a NEGATIVE or drag on the economy--for generations.