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Chances for Immigration Reform in 2014

January 6, 2014
Plain English Version

No one thinks we can ignore the issue of immigration. But that is the only thing everyone can agree on.

Democrats control the Senate. The Senate passed a comprehensive reform bill. A dozen Republican Senators joined with the Democrats.

Republicans control the House of Representatives. Some of them will oppose any bill that has a path to citizenship for undocumented people.

House Speaker John Boehner supports an immigration bill. However he opposes a comprehensive bill like the one passed by the Senate. He wants the House to pass “step by step” bills.

Most Republican House members support a few immigration reform ideas. They favor fast-track legalization for agricultural laborers. They want to increase the number of visas for high-tech workers. They support the “Dreamer” program that gives young immigrants who came to the country as children a chance to become American citizens.

In the end, the fate of immigration reform is in the politics of the nation. There will be a big push to get bills through the House early in 2014. However, the spring primary elections (contests to determine which candidate will have party support) will distract incumbents who are facing primaries.

In the fall, elections will be facing all House members and about one-third of the Senate members.

There will be a “lame duck” session after the fall elections. This means members who lost or who did not run still could vote, without worrying about how their vote will be viewed by colleagues. There would have to be a conference between the Senate and the House to come up with an immigration reform bill or bills to be passed and sent to the President.

If there is no action by the end of 2014, the  bill already passed by the Senate will expire.

President Obama has said he would not sign any bill that does not include a path to citizenship.

Elections are like a job interview for politicians. After the first few months of 2014, most of them will spend most of their time trying to be re-elected. Advocates say the future is unpredictable. They will be pushing very hard to get reform going early in the year.

Source: The New York Times                                                                                 January 2, 2014

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