Senators Promises Debate on Immigration Reform

April 30th, 2007

According to the Chicago Tribute, a bipartisan group of senators is planning to propose an immigration plan to win support from conservative senators.  If the group succeeds, President Bush will most likely support the measure, which may be his last shot for comprehensive immigration reform. 

According to the Tribune, “The group of senators discussing the reform plan includes everyone from conservative Southwesterners such as Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to liberal New Englanders like Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). The group includes presidential candidate John McCain (R-Ariz.), who wrote an immigration bill last year with Kennedy.”

However, it is the House of Representatives that poses a real threat to comprehensive immigration reform, since the conservative members in that body view the reform measures as an unfair amnesty.  It is not just the Republican members opposing immigration reforms, but conservative Democrats.

According to the Tribune, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised a Senate debate on immigration in the last two weeks of May. But if no agreement is reached soon, Reid may invoke “Rule 14″ on the immigration legislation — bypassing the traditional Judiciary Committee approval process and bringing the matter straight to the floor — if it appears there is enough accord on the bill to do so.”

There is an expecation that the Senate proposal will include a “Z” visa program for undocumented workers in the U.S. to obtain a green card, as well as guest worker visa categories that could be obtained and renewed every three years.
The Bush administration has suggested instituting a 13-year work requirement for guest laborers who wish to obtain legal permanent residency, as well as a special category of documentation to immigrants with incomes at 150 percent of the poverty line and health insurance to apply for special permission to bring their families into the country.

In the House in March, Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill for a guest worker program through which immigrants could apply for temporary visas and eventually citizenship. The House bill also takes a tough stance on enforcement, but it does not include a trigger mechanism and is not expected succeed in the House, at least not as is.