Will 2014 finally bring immigration reform?

One of the great disappointments of 2013 is the failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. While cynicism abounds about the possibility of immigration reform in 2014, the facts show a favorable environment for reform in the next year.

Let's look at the facts:

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, S.744, in June of 2013. The bill was introduced by the bi-partisan "Gang of 8".

Despite broad support for the bill, House Speaker John Boehner refused to bring the Senate bill to the floor of the House. A bi-partisan "Gang of 7" working on immigration reform in the House fell apart in September of 2013 after 3 of the 4 Republicans members left the group.

Democrats in the House then introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill, H.R. 15, in October of 2013. The bill now has 193 co-sponsors, including 3 Republicans. The bill would require 218 votes to pass, and but has not make it out of committee.

Speaker Boehner has stated that he will not allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform, despite voicing support for comprehensive reform in 2012. Boehner and other House Republicans now reject a comprehensive approach, instead favoring a piecemeal approach.

However, Boehner recently hired Becky Tallent, an aide who used to work as Chief of Staff to Senator John McCain (one of the "Gang of 8"). This hire is seen as a positive sign, given Tallent's support for a pathway to citizenship.

In addition, Boehner recently made statements against conservatives on the extreme right who have been standing in the way of compromise in the context of the bipartisan budget deal. This may signal that he will not allow the vocal minority to continue to control debate in the House.

Polls of Americans show wide support for immigration reform – specifically, for a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the country.

Protests have kept the issue in the forefront, including the recent "Fast for Families." When the President and First Lady visited a group of fasters, the President promised that immigration reform was not a question of "whether," but of "how soon."

Categories: Immigration reform

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