After two months of heated debate and much speculation in the media, S.744 – the bipartisan immigration reform has passed through the Senate by a margin of 68-32 (with 14 of 46 Republicans voting in favor). Along with the controversial provision of a “pathway to citizenship” for the 11 million undocumented residents, a significant increase to border security is prominently featured in the bill. Over the next ten years, $46 billion (this figure was $3 billion in the original bill) will be invested to: hire 20,000 new federal law enforcement agents, increase high-tech surveillance (including drones and infrared cameras) and finish construction of a 700-mile long fence along the border the Mexico-US border.
Despite the valiant bi-partisan collaboration in the Senate, the real challenge remains to be met in the House of Representatives, where Republicans are unlikely to support any bill unless the majority of their party is in full agreement. John Boehner, speaker of the House, even went as far as to say that the Senate bill was “dead on arrival” and the House would have to come up with a radically different bill to address their major areas of concern – namely the issue of border security and what Republicans perceive as amnesty in the proposed pathway to citizenship.
Despite the uncompromising, hard-line attitudes from many representatives of gerrymandered, overwhelmingly white districts, the Republicans as a party, have a lot at stake in their treatment of the immigration issue. With the election loss in 2012 still fresh in their mind – where Republicans only got 29% of Latino vote, the party will have to make tough choices between local and national politics. Every month 50,000 Hispanics reach voting age and will likely continue to vote Democrat, meaning Republicans could become politically irrelevant if they cannot come to a compromise on immigration.
If you follow our Facebook or Twitter, then you know about the immense economic and social benefits of immigration reform. However, we know there is no such thing as “no-brainer” legislation as evidenced by the failure to pass universal background for gun purchases. We will continue to closely monitor the immigration debate unfold and hope for the best outcome for the country. In the meantime, one should not forget about programs like DACA, VAWA, U-Visa and the new stateside waiver program that continue to provide relief to immigrants during this time of uncertainty.
We welcome your inquiries and feedback and look forward to keeping you up to date on all of the latest happenings in the immigration world!