‘Gang of Eight’ reaches immigration reform deal

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Jamelle Bouie reports at the Washington Post, “Gang of Eight” reaches immigration deal. But will GOP take it?:

According to the New York Times, the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” has reached an agreement on a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

By and large, the bill doesn’t depart from the framework established
by President Obama and seconded by Marco Rubio, among others. It
establishes a provisional status for unauthorized immigrants who who
pass background checks and fulfill other requirements, such as paying
fines and back taxes to the federal government. It also requires them to
wait ten years before they can apply for green cards, a change from
Obama’s plan, which proposed an eight year wait.

This is broadly in line with public opinion. According to the latest poll
from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, 64 percent of Americans
support a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, a number that
jumps to 76 percent when a proposed pathway includes fines, penalties,
and a background check. It should be said, however, that few Americans
support the long timeline for citizenship —18 percent say
unauthorized immigrants should be immediately eligible for citizenship
if they have jobs, while 51 percent say they should be eligible have
jobs and have been in the country for five years. Only 12 percent agree
with the “Gang of Eight” that ten years is necessary before citizenship
can become an option.

With all of that said, the most important component of the bill — for
political reasons — is border security. And there, Democrats and
Republicans have built a compromise that might earn wide support from
GOP lawmakers. As the Times notes, the bill sets several goals for
border authorities, “continuous surveillance of 100 percent of the
United States border and 90 percent effectiveness of enforcement in
several high-risk sectors,” as well as workplace and visa enforcement
measures. It also provides billions in new funding to the Department of
Homeland Security, and includes “triggers” to ensure that enforcement
goals are met. One trigger, for example, is a requirement that DHS
provides a five-year border security plan before the federal government
can give legal status to unauthorized immigrants.

This component of the bill allows Republicans to say that the
government is placing a priority on border security, providing a carrot
of sorts to conservative lawmakers who fear “amnesty” as a result of
immigration reform. But the bill doesn’t come with hard targets for
border security, which fulfills Democratic demands that immigrants have
an unencumbered path to citizenship.

There are still a host of obstacles left for this bill before it reaches
the floor of the Senate — much less comes to a vote — but for now, it’s
fair to say immigration reform may become a reality.

Sen. Patrick Leahy has scheduled the first committee hearing on the bill for April 17. Leahy: Hearing on comprehensive immigration reform set for April 17:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has formally
announced an April 17 hearing on comprehensive immigration reform
legislation.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will testify.

The
hearing is in part the result of talks with the bipartisan Gang of
Eight working on the soon-to-be unveiled legislation — including Marco
Rubio, who pushed for a slower committee process.

The mark-up is now not expected to begin until early May.

Anti-immigrant nativist Tea-Publicans on the committee are already whining about the hearing schedule — because delay is an enemy of the good and any action on this bill.

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