“You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.”
- Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States
Immigration Reform Bill S. 744 is currently making its way through Congress. Authored by the “Gang of 8”, a bipartisan group of senators, it has become a topic of intense debate.
Senators Schumer and McCain have already met with President Obama at the White House to discuss their legislation and, according to Senator Schumer, the President has indicated that he is enthusiastic about the bill. The President further said that he doesn’t “Want to drag this out because that’s the way bills get killed,” hence why the senators are hoping to pass the legislation by June.
Senator McCain has also said that there is a broad coalition of supporters of the bill, which include organized labor, the business community, Hispanic leaders, religious organizations and as well as others. McCain added that “The attitude of the American people has changed since 2007… Most Americans support this proposal far more than did in 2007. Frankly, elections have had an impact as well.”
President Obama has previously said that he does not support every part of the bill and one oth the key elements that he disagrees with has to do with the inclusion of a “trigger” for creating a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants in the country. The way that the bill is currently written, that pathway won’t open up until the government demonstrates progress on the other three central portions of the immigration reform bill, which are, border security, employer verification (i.e. eVerify), and the “entry-exit” system to track visa holders.
The conservative Senators support the trigger. Senator Shumer has said that without such a measure, it would be very difficult to pass the rest of the bill.
“This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me.” Obama said, “[but the bill] is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform.”
The bill, of course, still faces major challenges. One immigration reform opponent, Representative Steve King, said Congress should reconsider its efforts in light of the Boston Marathon bombings since it was the work of a foreign national.
King faces opposition even in his own party. Fellow Republican, John McCain, said that he would continue to argue for comprehensive immigration reform and that that would help keep the US safe.
While the Gang of 8 senators expressed optimism about the bill, they also acknowledged the fact that there will be opponents in Congress who will try to add “poison pill” amendments. One example is an amendment that would effectively eliminate any pathway to citizenship for those affected by the reform.
While other amendments are sure to follow, with the sole purpose of killing the bill, I am encouraged by what Senator McCain has said: “We are committed to good changes to the bill, but we are also committed to voting against changes that could kill the bill.”
If this is the summer that we will get Immigration Reform, it still isn’t a certainty. We strongly encourage you to contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them to vote “Yes” for what is the right thing to do.