The Senate will cast its first round of votes for the immigration reform bill this week, and so far Republicans are split down the middle in terms of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. Republicans are faced with many challenges, including figuring out a way to gain the support of the country’s Hispanic population so the party has a chance at holding the presidential seat in the next election. According to The Washington Post, this will be the most critical week for the future of the country’s immigration system.
Besides Sen. Marco Rubio, R-F.L., who has been pushing for GOP support for the Gang of Eight bill, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., announced June 9 on “Face the Nation” that she will back the comprehensive bill, adding more conservatives to Rubio’s team. According to CBS, Ayotte said that the Senate’s bill will give immigrants a “tough but fair” path to citizenship.
“I’ve looked at this very carefully,” Ayotte told CBS. “Our immigration system is completely broken; we’ve got 11 million people living in this country illegally and in the shadows. We have a legal immigration system that isn’t meeting our needs to grow the economy. And so I looked at this carefully, this is a thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem and so that’s why I’m going to support it.”
Although Rubio has gotten some Republican backing for the bill, other conservative senators like Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas are pushing in the opposite direction. They are trying to break apart the Gang of Eight legislation and present a plan that will not include an equal path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.
President Barack Obama wants a bill signed by the end of the summer, and is hopeful that conservatives will not prevent the bill from passing through Congress.
“We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that,” he said in a radio address. “They’ll try to stoke fear and create division. They’ll try to play politics with an issue that the vast majority of Americans want addressed. And if they succeed, we will lose this chance to finally fix an immigration system that is badly broken.”