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What is Ahead for the Senate Immigration Reform Bill?

The proponents of immigration reform are now happy as the immigration reform bill of the Senate has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. This sweeping immigration reform bill would grant legal status to most of the country’s undocumented immigrants. The Judiciary Committee has approved some amendments and has strengthened the bill but has not completely changed the bill introduced by the Gang of Eight. This bill has now successfully passed that Judiciary Committee and it would be introduced on the Senate floor on or after 3rd June. The members of the House are also in the process of crafting an immigration reform bill and they might soon come up with their bill. The Senate immigration reform bill is likely to face tougher hurdles in the House. The bill that the Judiciary Committee has passed would meet the needs of the US employers and the President of AFL-CIO stated that the Senate Judiciary Committee has improved the bill and that they must make the bill even better. Nevertheless, the bill has angered the gay rights activists as the bill has left out the same sex couples.

Though the bill has been improved by the Committee, key provisions of the bill have not been changed. Nevertheless, few issues are likely to derail the immigration reform bill of the Gang of Eight. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, negotiated for more than a year and came up with a provision that would permit 20,000 temporary foreign workers to work in the country. According to them, US businesses could hire foreign workers only if they are in short of workers. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO may not support immigration reform if changes are being made to their provision. Campaign manager of the Citizenship Now campaign, stated that they have carefully crafted the provision and that they would not support the bill if that provision is changed. At the same time, few other business owners and US firms, want the lawmakers to increase the number of visas so that they would be able to hire workers easily.

The Senate immigration reform bill would permit the unauthorized residents to apply for permanent residents status only after the border security goals are met by the US Department of Homeland Security. But undocumented immigrants could immediately apply for temporary legal status called the Registered Provisional Immigrant status. The focus of the conservatives is now on the border security provisions included in the Senate immigration reform bill. The Senate bill would require the law enforcement officials and Southwest border leaders to certify that the border is secure. Only after making sure that the goals are met, the Green Card process would begin and the undocumented immigrants in temporary legal status would be permitted to apply for permanent resident status.

Some Republicans who are against immigration reform do not want to legalize undocumented immigrants and want to delay the 13 year path to US citizenship by few more years. The amendment that would require the undocumented immigrants to wait several years to obtain US citizenship was not approved by the Senate Committee and Senator Grassley is likely to introduce that amendment again on the Senate floor. Moreover, some Republicans say that the undocumented residents must be permitted to enter the legalization process only after stiffening border security. For the Democrats, the immigration reform bill must legalize undocumented immigrants and permit them to become US citizens and they focus on legalizing undocumented immigrants. But the Republicans feel that the undocumented immigrants must not be put on a path to US citizenship. Senator Ted Cruz, filed an amendment that would legalize undocumented immigrants but would not permit them to become citizens of the country. This bill was not adopted by the Committee. However, some House conservatives have stated they would support a bill the would not permit undocumented immigrants to obtain US citizenship.

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