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This Week in Immigration Reform: The Calm Before the Floor

Eman Alwan from Iraq takes the Oath of Allegiance during a special naturalization ceremony at the Department of Justice in Washington (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque).

With the Senate Judiciary Committee advancing the “Gang of Eight” comprehensive reform bill, attention returns to the larger Senate.  In a Univision interview Sunday, Sen. Robert Menendez said the bill falls short of 60 votes—far short of the 70 some Gang of Eight members predicted this spring.  Now the speculation becomes “will they” or “won’t they” vote for the Schumer-McCain bill.  Some early notables include Mitch McConnell (“undecided”), Rand Paul (“a very good chance”), and key Democrats who voted down reform in 2007.  Get ready for the week of June 10, when S.744 will arrive on the Senate floor for debate.

Politico has a thorough rundown of how things stand in the House of Representatives.  They report the House “Gang of Eight” is beginning to write the bill and that health care for registered provisional immigrants “appears to be settled,” but tying E-Verify to legalization could become problematic.  While Speaker of the House John Boehner doesn’t picture much of a future for the Senate bill in his chamber, he says, “The House will work its will and produce its own legislation.”  On the House Judiciary track, Rep. Darrell Issa introduced the SKILLS Visa Act, which addresses international STEM students, foreign-born entrepreneurs, and H-1B workers.

The battle is shaping up for Republican votes in Congress, but while a recent Washington Post/ABC poll finds that 58 percent of Americans “support a path to citizenship,” 52 percent of Republican voters do not.  Furthermore, those Republicans “say they could not support a congressional candidate who backs a path to citizenship.”  One Republican who will stand by immigration reform to the end? Jeb Bush, who helped launch the March for Innovation to promote reform via social media last week.

Lastly, a bit of important, but non-reform, immigration news:  As reported by the Associated Press, “a federal judge ruled Friday that the office of America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff [Maricopa County’s Joe Arpaio] systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark immigration patrols, marking the first finding by a court that the agency racially profiles people.”  Arpaio, who has long touted his enforcement tactics, plans to appeal the decision.

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