Expectations are running high when it comes to moving forward with comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Apparently the White House is taking note of the concerns voiced by grassroots groups and the mobilizing around a March 21 march. The White House had three scheduled meetings on immigration today—one with immigration advocates, another with Senators Schumer and Graham and a third with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. While immigration advocates eagerly await outcomes of today’s meetings, the recent momentum of reform has created a buzz among some Congressional members on how exactly an immigration bill might move forward.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), who is taking the lead on a reform bill along with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), is looking for yet another Republican co-sponsor. Additionally, Schumer is trying to hash out an agreement between business and labor on specifics in the bill. According to Politico:
Lindsey Graham and I are working. We only have a couple of more things to get done — and they’re hard. One of them is to get another Republican on the bill. One is to finally deal with the issue of getting business and labor on the same side on low-wage workers. We will not pass an immigration bill unless it’s bipartisan. I think everyone agrees with that. Everyone agrees to put a bill on the floor of the Senate and not have it pass, as happened a few years ago, is a bad idea.
Senator Graham, likewise, stressed the importance of bipartisanship and called on the White House to muster up more support for reform.
At the end of the day, the President needs to step it up a little bit. One line in the State of the Union is not going to do it. I think moderate Democrats have to come on board before you get Republicans, and Republicans have to come on board before you get Democrats.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a long time leader and supporter of immigration reform, also asked for more movement from the White House and stressed the importance of reform to the Latino community.
For the Latino community in this country, it’s the civil rights issue of their time, so delay obviously adds to disillusionment. Immigration reform would seal the community’s commitment to the Democratic Party.
Majority Whip, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), commented that moving reform forward this year is doable as long as there is cooperation from across the aisle.
[When] asked whether he thought there was room on the legislative calendar for a comprehensive immigration bill, [Durbin responded] “There is—if we can get enough agreement on the other side of the aisle. I favor [comprehensive reform]. Sen. Schumer is our leader on this. He’s looking for Republican support to make it happen.”
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who fills the shoes of immigration juggernaut, late Sen. Ted Kennedy, told Fox News this week that he would be willing to consider Schumer and Graham’s bill.
You need a strong border enforcement. You need a strong E-verification. I…have always felt that part of the problem is that we haven’t provided the proper resources for people to be processed quickly enough. And when you have people waiting in line six, seven, eight, nine years in some instances, it’s a disincentive to (immigrate) legally…In terms of allowing people to step ahead of the people who are trying to do it legally, I have a real problem with that.
Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL), who took over for now retired Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), told Politico that although he hasn’t been approached yet, that he would look at an immigration bill.
My feeling on immigration reform is that the system is broken. We need to do something about it. There was a huge effort to do something about it from people with good minds on both sides and it failed. But we have a continuing need to address border security. We have a continuing need to figure out a solution to what we’re going to do with the 10.8 million people who are in this country illegally. I’m a person who’s here to try to solve problems and if there’s a thoughtful piece of legislation that’s worked out, I’m happy to look at it.
And finally, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who introduced the progressive CIR ASAP reform bill back in 2009, urged the President to keep his campaign promise.
I’m happy to know of the president’s renewed interest in immigration reform. This is the story of the candidate Obama not being one and the same as the President Obama. It’s about keeping campaign promises. That’s what this is about.
Photo by White House.
FILED UNDER: Executive Branch, undocumented immigration