Blog & Updates
The Week Ahead: April 1-5
April 01, 2013 - Posted by Katherine Vargas
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Sen. Chuck Schumer
"With the agreement between business and labor, every major policy issue has been resolved on the "Gang of Eight … I am very optimistic that we will have an agreement among the eight of us next week. Senator Leahy has agreed to have extensive markup and debate on the bill in April, and then we go to the floor, God willing, in May.”
—Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on NBC’ s “Meet the Press” expressing confidence in the immigration reform negotiation process. March 31, 2013
Push for Reform Intensifies over the Recess
Members of Congress are home through April 5 for a two-week recess, and leaders from across the political spectrum are making sure their support for immigration reform is loud and clear.
The Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform (BBB) network is picking up steam this week, with multiple events in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Utah with influential local, regional, and national faith, business, and law enforcement voices.
Similarly, the Evangelical Immigration Table continues their national and local efforts in support of immigration reform. Tomorrow, they will announce significant radio ad buy in key states such as Florida, Texas, and North Carolina. In addition, evangelical leaders are planning an April 17 Day of Prayer and Action on Capitol Hill.
For more information about immigration recess events, please visit http://bbbimmigration.org/events.
Senate Close to a Deal on Immigration
Key negotiators in the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” signaled optimism on Sunday that an immigration reform bill could be introduced as soon as next week in light of the tentative deal on guest worker programs by labor and business groups. Disagreements over the guest worker program were one of the remaining significant hurdles to drafting immigration reform legislation in the Senate.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO reached a “tentative agreement” about a guest worker program that would grant up to 200,000 new visas annually for low-skilled workers. The agreement marks a major breakthrough and improves the odds of passing immigration reform legislation. Senate negotiators have already reached agreements over other controversial aspects of the reform bill, including border security and a pathway to citizenship.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) cautioning to not rush the reform bill through his committee and to hold new hearings on immigration.
CALENDAR: Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.
Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration: http://www.immigrationforum.org/images/uploads/2012/LegBulletin.pdf
MUST READ: POLITICO: House group nears immigration deal
By: Jake Sherman
April 1, 2013
A small, bipartisan House group is nearly finished with its immigration reform plan, which it hopes to announce the week of April 8 when Congress returns from recess.
But lawmakers and leadership are carefully eying several significant lingering technical issues to bring it across the finish line.
The key issues causing concern are fears about the price tag of immigration reform, the pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants and the process by which a slow-moving House Republican Conference might introduce and vote on a bill that would overhaul the system.
These items — described by several sources involved in the secret talks — are under active consideration by the group and the senior members of the Republican leadership as the House group readies for its roll-out when Congress returns from a two-week long break.
That the House is this far along is significant because of the deep partisanship that has slowed legislative action on the issue over the last three years. Historically, the House has stuck to small-bore immigration fixes, like securing the border, instead of comprehensive reform. Talks have progressed to the level that both Democratic and Republican leadership are being kept in the loop.
The elements of the plan, which were described by multiple sources, are very fluid and subject to change.
Sources describe the House plan as not differing to starkly from a compromise being drafted by the Senate’s Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group that is also nearing the finish line. Business and labor interests reached a deal Saturday on a long-thorny issue regarding visas for low-skilled workers, which significantly increases the chances of an overall deal in the Senate.
But the GOP-controlled House has always been seen as a less hospitable place for full-scale immigration reform. Nonetheless, the recent progress made by the House group is promising. Among Republicans, Reps. Raul Labrador of Idaho and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida are seen as key.
There are still issues to work out.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/immigration-reform-deal-house-89499.html
NEW YORK TIMES: Guest Workers Are at Crux of Groups’ Deal on Immigration
By ASHLEY PARKER and STEVEN GREENHOUSE
March 29, 2013
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top business and labor groups were near agreement Friday on a guest worker program for low-skilled immigrants, closing in on a deal that would eliminate one of the last significant obstacles to a new proposal for a broad overhaul of immigration laws, officials involved in the talks said.
The progress in the talks, which stalled late last week, had members of a bipartisan group of eight senators that has been working on an immigration bill increasingly optimistic that they would be able to introduce comprehensive legislation in the Senate when Congress returns the second week of April.
“We are very close, closer than we’ve ever been,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the Senate group. “We are very optimistic, but there are a few issues remaining.”
The intense talks, and the willingness of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. — two groups that have often found themselves deeply divided over the immigration debate — to try to hammer out an agreement, was an indication of how much the climate has changed on overhauling the nation’s immigration laws.
When President George W. Bush pushed to revamp immigration laws in 2007, the inability of business and labor to agree on a plan for temporary guest workers was among the main reasons that effort failed. But now the two groups have weathered leaks to the news media and other setbacks in a sign of how serious both Democrats and Republicans are about getting a bill on President Obama’s desk by the end of the year.
Some involved in the negotiations remained hopeful that a deal would be reached by the weekend, but the Congressional recess, along with the Good Friday observance, made it difficult to lock all the moving pieces in place, those close to the talks said. And, while the members of the bipartisan group were optimistic, aides cautioned that no deal would be final until all the senators had signed off on every piece of the legislation.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/us/politics/guest-worker-program-low-skilled-immigrants.html