Lawmakers gathered on May 7 to file a long list of amendments regarding the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform legislation. The number of amendments filed is a precursor to the weeks of debates that will decide the fate of the new immigration laws. According to The Washington Post, most of the 301 amendments filed were from Senate Republicans. These amendments requested to give Congress more authority over borer security, to require illegal immigrants to provide DNA samples before gaining legal status and to reduce the number of immigrant workers who would be eligible to gain citizenship.
“The intent seems to be to upset the careful bipartisan balance negotiated by the Gang of Eight in hopes of sinking the bill,” Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant group, told Fox News. “The good news is this: If the pro-reform Republicans and Democrats on the committee hang together they should be able to stave off the attacks by opponents.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin considering the amendments Thursday, and the hearings will likely take place over the next few weeks. Among the biggest issues up for debate are two amendments filed by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to extend immigration rights to gay citizens and permanent residents, allowing them to petition for U.S. residence for their partners just as straight, married Americans can. This has sparked serious concern from Gang of Eight members who say that this legislation would cost them support from conservatives.
Although some have doubts about the state of the immigration bill, supporters say that Republicans will come around as long as border security remains a top priority.
“Most of the suggestions we have heard raise legitimate points and suggestions on how to improve the bill,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told The Post. “The good news is that . . . most conservatives are ready to support immigration reform, so long as it takes serious steps to prevent another wave of illegal immigration in the future.”