As the end of 2013 approaches, the Washington Examiner is taking a look back at the biggest stories and issues of the year. Today, it's immigration.

The two major parties fought a protracted battle through the year on immigration, with the White House championing a comprehensive reform plan that House Republicans refused to take up. The debate simmered in the fall as the government shutdown and Obamacare took precedence, but complex issues like border security and H-1B visas for highly skilled workers kept popping up throughout the year.

Here are some of the top Examiner stories of 2013 on immigration:

Congress looks to bump up high-tech visas

By Brian Hughes, July 19

While the larger immigration debate formed on traditional party lines, arguments over H-1B visas for highly skilled workers saw tech giants like Apple and Facebook get involved.

"[W]hat supporters are framing as necessary to bolster entrepreneurship and keep specialized employees in the U.S., critics are slamming as a thinly veiled attempt by large corporations to secure cheaper labor.

It's a concern that even leaders of the so-called Gang of Eight acknowledged in moving a bill out of the Senate.

"Americans would be shocked to know that these H-1Bs are not going to [American companies],"" Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said at a recent congressional hearing.

Click here to read the entire story.

The influx of Mexicans to the U.S. slows --- but for how long?

By Joseph Lawler, Aug. 27

A look at what to expect from Mexican immigration in the future, distilled down to three key factors: Demographics, economics and law.

Over the last generation, Mexico’s demographics have changed dramatically. The total fertility rate has fallen, from 6.5 children born to the average woman in the early ‘70s to 2.25 in 2013, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. A rate below 2.1 percent indicates a shrinking population.

Mexico’s rapidly declining fertility is no accident, suggests the Migration Policy Institute’s Eleanor Sohnen, who believes that the drop-off in Mexicans moving to the U.S. is a “long-term change.” Mexico’s demographic change reflects a concentrated campaign by the Mexican government to increase the availability of birth control and promote cultural acceptance of smaller families. It also is a product of Mexico undergoing a familiar demographic transition — progressing from a high-birthrate country to a low one as the economy modernizes.

Click here to read the entire story.

House Republicans don't have a plan for talking about immigration during August recess

By Rebecca Berg, July 25

Immigration talks started off with a bang, but by Congress' August recess, House Republicans didn't have the plan for talking about immigration with constituents.

As House Republicans prepare to return to their districts for the August recess, they are bracing themselves for tough questions about immigration reform from their constituents — with little guidance from their conference leaders about how to answer them.

Most Republicans concede that they “should talk about it,” as Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday.

“I think that’s one of the reasons we’re waiting until after the August recess to do some of the major pieces of legislation, because we want to go back home and listen to our constituents,” Labrador said.

But in the House GOP recess planning kit, which is distributed to members to guide their messaging during the recess, the word “immigration” appears only once in more than 30 pages; by contrast, “job” and “jobs” appear a combined 58 times."

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Obama's piecemeal shift not moving the ball on immigration

By Brian Hughes, Nov. 20

The president's tactical shift was an attempt to reach out to Republicans, but the GOP wouldn't bite.

Since the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June, Obama has urged the lower chamber to take up the issue.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has also said he will only address immigration reform with piecemeal bills.

Obama has frequently compared the piecemeal approach to a child eating dessert first and leaving the less-appetizing vegetables for another day.

The fear among Democrats is that the House would pass border security measures and other provisions popular with Republicans, while ignoring a pathway to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally — often dismissed by critics as a form of amnesty.

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