New Mexico Congressman Ben Ray Lujan is optimistic that immigration reform will happen this year, in 2013. He also told Politic365 that he believes that Republican representatives in the House and Senate will likely join with him and other Latino congressman to push for legislation true to the nine immigration principles released by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last November.
“I really believe that it will happen this year,” Lujan told Politic365. “I remain optimistic that this continues to be a very pressing issue and that there’s support to work on immigration reform in Congress.”
The principles outlined by the CHC include mandatory registration by undocumented immigrants with the government, fingerprinting, a federal background check, learning English, and a vague path to permanent residency, and eventually, citizenship. Also outlined are vague “solutions” for agriculture workers, enforcement, employment verification and the payment of taxes.
Importantly, the last point reaffirms the importance of the Citizenship Clause of the Constitution.
When it comes to a timeline, Congressman Lujan believes the legislation is coming sooner, rather than later.
“I would suggest early on this Congress, in the first quarter of the calendar year that our Republican colleagues would show some movement and willingness to move with us to get some legislation moving built on the principles that we’ve put out,” he said.
Lujan also noted that the president has been supportive of immigration reform, and said he hopes to hear more on the president’s position on the issue during the State of the Union address in February.
“I hope immigration reform is included in a very strong way in his remarks,” Lujan told Politic365. “I expect to hear from the president about the importance of immigration reform and [that he] presses Congress that we can do many things at once. While we have to address the economic realities of the country and put people to work, part of that is going to get moving immigration reform through this Congress.”
Lujan was adamant that Republicans, specifically Florida Senator Marco Rubio — who has been vocal about immigration reform generally, and even proposed his own version of the DREAM Act last year — would join with him and his CHC colleagues to promote legislation framed by nine principles.
Outside of Congress, Lujan pointed to state governors, on both sides of the aisle, who he hoped would join the immigration reform effort. Pointing to the Republican governor of his home state, Susana Martinez, Lujan said Republicans in general could be persuaded to join immigration reform efforts to everyone’s benefit.
“Once we can get everybody together, then we can move some policy and get this done quickly,” he said.