Immigration reform took a major step forward at the end of June, when the U.S. Senate passed their immigration reform bill by a strong margin at a vote of 68-32, with 14 Republicans voting yes. The proposed bill, as discussed in previous blog posts, would give a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as well as tighten border security, and create a more efficient immigrant employment system for both high-skill and low-skill labor.
As the bill moves on to the House of Representatives, its future remains unclear. There is a stronger divide in the House than the Senate that will make passing the reform legislation as a whole very difficult. Some are suggesting that in order to make progress, the House will have to attack the bill piece by piece, starting with proposed legislation for stronger border security, before moving on to avenues to citizenship.
One important issue that both Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on is finding a way to provide a legal status to undocumented immigrants who where brought to the United States as minors. Some representatives, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Republican out of Virginia), have started discussing and planning hearings about this specific issue. By making the proposed national legislation narrower than failed DREAM Act bills of the past, these children without a national identity might finally obtain a legal path to U.S. citizenship.
But just as momentum seems to be building, there will most likely be no imminent Congressional action as the lawmakers go on their annual month-long summer recess in August. The time away from D.C. could give our representatives time to hear from the voices of their voters, but the recess could also slow down any momentum of immigration reform in 2013. We will keep you updated on how things continue.