Since the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform in June, the legislation has been languishing in the House of Representatives. In light of the budget battle between the Democrats and Republicans – which resulted in the temporary government shutdown – any hopes of passing reform legislation before 2014 are rapidly dwindling.
House Republicans have been saying for months that they will likely not pass one reform package like the Senate did – rather, House Republicans plan to propose and pass a series of immigration bills in a more piecemeal approach to changing the country’s immigration laws. However, it seems the House Democrats are trying to beat their Republican counterparts to the punch as the Democrats recently released their own immigration proposal in hopes of spurring Republicans into action.
House Representative and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, joined by a number of her Democrat peers, announced the immigration proposal, which focuses on changing the border security provisions of the bill that the Senate passed in June. Specifically, the Senate bill would provide for an additional 700 miles of border fences and 20,000 new border agents at the Mexico-U.S. border.
House Democrats removed this provision from their proposal and in its place substituted a plan that instructs the Department of Homeland Security to develop a policy that aims to ensure the apprehension of 90 percent of border-crossers in two years.
Purpose of the Proposal
Democrats have acknowledged that their proposal is largely symbolic as they predict it has little chance of being supported by the Republicans. The purpose of the proposal was to bring immigration reform back into the spotlight in the wake of the government shutdown, and to pressure Republicans into passing legislation quickly.
Immigration proponents have acknowledged that the Democratic proposal stands little chance of being voted on but said it could pressure Republicans, who have rejected the Senate plan and are working on a series of smaller-scale proposals.
Public Response to the Proposal
Immigration advocacy groups are widely praising the measure, even in light of the fact that it is largely symbolic and not likely to become law. A spokesman from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) heralded the Democrats’ proposal and stated that deportations do not cease merely because the government experienced a budget crisis – and pointed out that everyday thousands of foreign workers and relatives of U.S. citizens are deported.
Immigration advocates, attorneys, foreign nationals, and the American people at large are still waiting for the House of Representatives to pass immigration reform. Currently, there is no accurate prediction of when the legislation will pass but everyone involved hopes it will be sooner rather than later as those who are in the U.S. without legal status, and those who have been waiting several years to gain status, are waiting for potentially life-changing laws. Continue to check back with our blog regularly to follow the most recent immigration news and developments on the proposed comprehensive immigration reform.
Additional Blog Posts
Update: DOMA and Immigration, ImmigRantings, July 10, 2013
Denial Rates for H-1B Visas Rising in U.S. Consulates in India, ImmigRantings, February 19, 2013