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Rough Road Ahead on Immigration Reform

June 15, 2013
Plain English Version

The pathway to citizenship is the foundation of the immigration reform bill. For conservatives, the pathway, which they call “amnesty” is the biggest obstacle to the bill’s passage.

Many Republicans are insisting on even stronger border security measures before they will vote for the bill. Attention is on the “Cornyn” amendment (R. Texas), which focuses on increasing border security.

There will be hard bargaining over preserving the pathway measures and adding to border security.

The Cornyn amendment includes the following:

  •  Constant observation of the 2,000-mile southern border
  • Use of unmanned drones 24/7
  • Capture of 90 percent of undocumented border crossers
  • Nationwide system of workplace employment verification (E-Verify)
  • Biometric (irises and fingerprints) systems in all the nation’s seaports and international airports

The bill already has many security measures. Republicans say biometric methods will find the 40 percent of the undocumented population who came to the U.S. legally, but stay longer than allowed.

Senate Democratic leaders say the amendment is a “poison pill” that would kill the bill. Some Republicans think the cost would be too high.

Important provisions of the bill will take years to carry out. Democrats want the pathway to start at least within five years of the bill’s passage.

“Dreamers” are young people given the opportunity by President Obama to stay and study in the U.S. for two years. They may also join the armed services. They and others thought the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was a jump-start to citizenship. The bill may well disappoint them.

And there is no certainty about how the House of Representatives will act.

It looks like a bumpy ride.

Sources: The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times

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