Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Will the House of Representatives "Kill the Bill"?

May 29, 2013. While the Senate's comprehensive immigration bill has moved out of committee and begins the floor debate process, the House of Representatives is still hammering out details of their bill. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday stated that passing an immigration reform bill would be "pretty easy". But he was likely referring to passage in the Senate with a 55 member Democrat majority. And as most Americans (hopefully) are aware, it takes three to tango in American politics: the House, the Senate, and the President. Just because the Senate may pass their own version of immigration reform by no means assures passage in the House, with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warning last Thursday that the Senate bill would not pass in the House. He went on to state that the House would have their own version of immigration reform designed to appeal to conservatives.

The House immigration bill would likely eliminate any proposed "path to citizenship" for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and that alone would force backers of immigration reform, notably Democrats, against the House bill.

So essentially, it all boils down to this: if the Senate bill passes (with almost a guaranteed provision for a  pathway to citizenship), then it's up to Speaker Boehner to convince enough Republicans to vote in favor of it, which, according to current reports, is unlikely to happen. On the flip side, if the House bill is passed and does not, in all likelihood, include a viable pathway to citizenship, then once it reaches the Senate, the bill would essentially be "dead on arrival", with most of the 55 Democrats demanding a path to citizenship be included in any comprehensive immigration reform bill.

People often ask me if comprehensive immigration reform will pass. In my opinion, now, I just don't know. It looked promising a few months back with the "Bipartisan Gang of 8" hammering out their differences, but now it looks like comprehensive immigration reform has a major hurdle to overcome  with House Republicans.

If you have questions about this, or any other immigration matter, please visit or call 949-440-3240.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Amendments to Comprehensive Immigration Reform Could Sink Bill

May 8, 2013. More than 300 amendments to the "Gang of Eight's" bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill have been filed ahead of this past Tuesday's deadline. The Senate's Judicial Committee will begin considering and voting on the bill starting this Thursday, May 9. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led the Senate by proposing 77 amendments to the bill. Not to be outdone, plenty of Democrats also submitted their own amendments too. Some of the proposed changes include Senator Jeff Session's (R-AL) amendment to limit the number of immigrants gaining legal status under the bill and Senator Mike Lee's (R-UT) proposal to significantly increase the number of low-skilled workers allowed into the country on temporary visas.

The sheer number of amendments could possibly derail the fragile compromise reached by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" in the Senate alone, notwithstanding the uncertain outcome in the House of Representatives (which too has promised a more stricter version of comprehensive immigration reform, but has yet to deliver).

Leading immigration advocates remain hopeful nonetheless that the bill will clear this hurdle, due in part to the "Gang of Eight's" influence in the Senate, public opinion, and pressure from the White House. The Judiciary Committee indeed is comprised of four of the eight senators who crafter the comprehensive immigration reform bill.

And while critics are quick to point the finger at Republicans for potentially derailing immigration reform, it is an amendment from Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that quite possibly has the biggest potential to derail the bill. His proposal seeks to allow same-sex couples to petition for green cards for their foreign partner, much the way straight couples do. Already the Republican members of the "Gang of Eight" have threatened to derail the bill if gay couples are included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill. Said Dick Durbin (D-IL) about the same-sex couples provision "[w]e never discussed that. We never took a vote on it", criticizing his Democrat colleague's proposal.

I've said it quite often on this blog that immigration reform is by no means a certainty. We haven't even dealt with the House yet (perhaps the biggest challenge to immigration reform) and now find the bill in danger in the Senate. How this all plays out, one can only guess. For now though, if you have an immigration matter that requires a lawyer, please visit or call 949-440-3240.