The Latest Progress of Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill
The 2013 comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act was successfully approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, clearing the path to a full Senate vote next month. The Senate Judiciary Committee –a committee composed of 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans– took a first look at amending the proposed bill before general discussion and voting on the bill will take place in the Senate. The bill, with all of its major provisions intact and with minimal restricting amendments, was approved by the committee with a vote of 13-5 (all 10 Democrat committee members and 3 Republican members voted for approval).
Following the successful approval of the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the next step for the bill will be Senate discussion and vote next month, currently aimed at beginning on June 10th. Despite concerns from Senator Bob Mendez (D-NJ) –a member of the “Gang of Eight” that crafted the bill– that there may not be enough votes in support of the bill to overcome a filibuster, there is reason to think that the bill will pass the Democrat controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has recently stated that he believes there are easily 60 votes (the number required to end discussion on a bill and allow it to continue to a vote) in the Senate in support of the bill. If Senator Reid’s predictions are correct, the likelihood of a filibuster will be minimal. Further, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has repeatedly implemented filibusters on past legislation, has stated that he will not block the CIR bill from reaching the Senate floor. While this does not rule out an attempt at a filibuster if desired Republican amendments are not added, Senator McConnell’s enthusiasm for the bill is a good sign that real compromise on the issue of immigration reform may be attainable in 2013.
A spokesperson for Senator Reid has said that with a proposed June 10th start date for Senate discussion of the bill, Senate Democrats are hoping for Senate approval by July 4th. While the Senate CIR proposal has received most of the media attention so far, the Republican controlled House of Representatives has been working on its own CIR compromise bill which has not yet been released (though reports are that it is more conservative in terms of a pathway to citizenship). Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have both stated that the House will not simply wait on approval of the Senate’s bill. In the event that the House leadership holds true to its statements concerning proposing their own CIR bill, this would mean even more compromise would be necessary. If both the separate Senate and House bills passed their respective chambers, a Senate-House conference would need to be held in order to coordinate the two bills in order for a single Congressional compromise bill to be sent to the President and have the possibility of being signed into law. Despite the added time and further possibility for derailment of the reform process that such a House bill may pose, Representative Pelosi has said the compromise could be completed by August.
As with much legislation, there continue to be positive advancements and concerns over ideological encumbrances as CIR pushes forward. While the prospects of the Senate CIR bill passing becoming greater every day, there are still hurdles to clear before any CIR law can come about. Not only is the House of Representatives currently less likely to support some of the legalization aspects of the Senate bill –making passing of it into law questionable– it may also hinder the progress of reform by producing its own bill that will slow down the process and require further compromise in the form of a Senate-House committee. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that the impressive support shown for CIR in the Senate and the provisions of the bill being discussed are not yet established as components of a finalized bill. There are still legislative procedures to come that may change the current CIR bill substantially and possible weaken its chances of approval. While it is refreshing to see the current optimism for passage of CIR, future immigration plans should not be made on the current state of legislative support.
Founded in 1996, Zhang & Associates, P.C. offers legal services to clients nationwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled thousands of immigration cases.
At Zhang & Associates, P.C., our attorneys and supporting professionals are committed to providing high-quality immigration and non-immigration visa services. We specialize in NIW, EB-1, PERM, and I-485 cases. In the past seventeen years, we have successfully helped thousands of clients get green cards. If you plan to apply for a green card, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a free evaluation.
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