The Labor & Employment Blog is a forum for practitioners and Bloomberg BNA editors to share ideas, raise issues, and network with colleagues.
Monday, September 30, 2013
by Laura D. Francis
As Congress battles over a funding measure that would prevent the imminent shutdown of the federal government—and later debates the debt ceiling—the prospect of lawmakers returning to legislation overhauling the nation's immigration system appears uncertain.
Compounding the situation, the comprehensive immigration bill being crafted in the House appears dead, with two more Republican members of the bipartisan coalition leaving the group Sept. 20. Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson of Texas said they didn't trust the president to enforce the law. Their departure follows the exit of Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) in June.
The momentum that came from the Senate's passage of a comprehensive bill in June and the House Judiciary Committee's approval of several piecemeal immigration measures has been somewhat diminished. But advocates are still optimistic that a vote could occur either late this year or early in 2014.
Rallies are planned in various locations across the country Oct. 5, and a large-scale event set for Oct. 8 in Washington.
Republicans still appear committed to moving forward, albeit through individual measures rather than a single, comprehensive bill. Carter and Johnson in a joint statement announcing their departure from the House immigration group said they would continue to support that step-by-step approach.
Speakers at a recent event sponsored by NDN and the New Policy Institute also said they believe an overhaul is coming because there is more consensus on immigration now than during the last attempt to overhaul the system in 2006 and 2007.
Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA—which advocates for an immigration overhaul on behalf of small and mid-sized businesses—said she believes House Republicans are working on a compromise for a legalization program for undocumented immigrants already in the country, one of the major sticking points in getting a bill passed. She said the proposal would grant legal status, but not a "special" path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants—instead allowing them to naturalize through existing means.
Frank Sharry, executive director of immigrant advocacy group America's Voice, said he believes Democrats in Congress likely would accept the compromise—but Republicans need to introduce it, and they're running out of time. An election year is looming, and voters may decide that Congress needs more Democrats to get an immigration bill passed, he said.
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