Though the federal government remains shutdown, democrats created their own immigration bill Wednesday in hopes of keeping reform alive. The new bill has many of the same features of the old one, which is still stuck in the House of Representatives. The 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. would still be allowed to receive temporary legal status within six months, and apply for U.S. citizenship within 13 years, with some requirements. Applicants would face background checks, a fine and must learn English.
The new bill also keeps provisions allowing for more technically skilled immigrants into the country every year. According to USA Today, the “House Plan” replaces a $46 billion border security initiative with a different proposal. The new bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to monitor 100 percent of U.S. borders. The idea was originally proposed by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. Its addition is one way that democrats hope to write a bill that will pass through congress.
The Washington Post reports that the GOP believes the bill is unlikely to pass. GOP supporters argue the House Plan is just an attempt for democrats to show that they are still trying. House Speaker John Boehner refused to pass the Senate bill in July, bringing reform to where it is now – locked and waiting. At the same time, democrats fear that republicans are using the government shutdown as an excuse to put bipartisan reform attempts on hold.
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., who is a strong supporter of immigration reform, is optimistic. He argues that bipartisan reform is always slow, requiring compromise.
“When was the last time the republicans proposed something and you saw democrats run over and support them?” he told the Washington Post.
Immigration advocates plan on showing continued support for reform by scheduling a day of action on Saturday, Oct. 5 followed by a rally on Tuesday, Oct. 8.