Today, president Obama is reported to be presenting an address that discusses his administration’s plans for a comprehensive immigration law.
His pending remarks got upstaged yesterday when eight U.S. Senators introduced a framework upon which they hope to craft their own Congressionally-originated comprehensive immigration law. The bipartisan group of strange bedfellow lawmakers include former presidential candidate John McCain (R-AZ), Tea Party darling and republican rising star Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and the original crafter of the failed Dream Act, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
In a press event Monday, the group called for a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented persons living in the U.S., as relayed in detailed statement of principles. But before this pathway opened, the law would require the U.S. first secure its borders and establish an e-Verify type system to empower employers a way to ensure people they hire are properly authorized to work in the country.
It could all be for naught and perhaps a clever dog and pony show for at least two reasons:
First, the nucleus of the Republican party, which includes the very anti-illegal immigration Tea Party caucus and their constituents would put up a mighty fight against what would appear to them to be just another form of amnesty. With the House being majority Republican, it’s very hard to see a bill of this caliber passing. Some already spoke out late afternoon after the press conference. For example, Texas representative Lamar Smith said in a statement, “by granting amnesty, the Senate proposal actually compounds the problem by encouraging more illegal immigration.”
Second, quick passage of the law, as the group intends would likely be seen by many as a ploy to swoon Hispanic voters. But alas, it would be a steep gamble as President Obama and Democrats would likely get the credit for any movement on immigration. Essentially, they would be guaranteed 11 million future voters. The ramification on who would win at the end of any movement towards comprehensive immigration is evident. Whichever administration is in power when a comprehensive immigration bill passes could be rest assured to have won over the hearts, minds, and most importantly, the loyalty, of millions of its beneficiaries.
There is appetite for and there could be consensus building around citizenship pathways for highly skilled and educated “ideal” immigrants with credentials and post graduate degrees especially in tech fields, but alas, they are just a fraction of the 11 million population of concern. Most likely, the bipartisan immigration plan Speaker of the House John Boehner has been helping to draft would likely encompass this type of theme.
Something could happen, but whatever does will definitely not be fast and getting something passed that rewards those hiding in the shadows that millions of Americans still consider to be law breakers will be quite the tough sell.
Some crossed the Mexican-US border without prior authorization and others overstayed their temporary visitors or business visas and have settled in America. Under the multilayered plan, applicants would have to learn English, succumb to a criminal background investigation, and pay back owed taxes.
“We have a long way to go, but this bipartisan blueprint is a major breakthrough,” another signatory to the principals, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said.