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This Week in Immigration Reform

Nicole Prchal Svajlenka


As the immigration reform debate ramps up, Metropolitan Policy Program Senior Research Assistant Nicole Prchal Svajlenka wraps up the news in the first of an occasional series of posts keeping track of this fast-moving issue.

• In what seems the somewhat-calm before a very big storm (a Senate bill is expected next week), the comprehensive immigration reform front has remained relatively quiet during Congress’s spring recess. Many of the issues coming up are things we have heard before. The biggest remaining issue, a business-labor agreement on a temporary work program, is reported to have been reached over the weekend.

• While Gang of Eight members appeared on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” and “State of the Union” shows to discuss how close they are to releasing a bill, Sen. Rubio released a statement saying reform is not a done deal.

• As reported by Elise Foley, Rep. John Yarmuth said representatives working on a comprehensive bill are also close to consensus and could possibly release their bill before passage of the Senate bill.

• Sen. John McCain hosted a Phoenix town hall meeting last Monday. As reported by Dan Nowicki, after the event McCain “bluntly let an Arizona ‘dreamer’ know that he doesn’t appreciate the demonstration tactics that the politically active young undocumented immigrants have been using at his office in their push for reform.”

• Sens. McCain, Flake, Schumer, and Bennet (half of the gang) toured the border last week, promising to take what they learned into account when drafting their proposal. Perhaps overshadowing the rest of their tour, the senators witnessed Border Patrol agents apprehending a woman climbing over the 18-foot fenceSen. Graham is spending the recess in South Carolina, trying to get constituents to support reform. It’s slow going, but seems better than the cries of “Graham-nesty” in 2007.

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• During a naturalization ceremony at the White House, President Obama praised the progress Congress has made on reform but said it needs to “finish the job” soon. In fact, last Wednesday he told Telemundo he thinks the bill could be signed before the end of summer.

Sen. Ted Cruz is not shy in sharing he thinks this push, especially including a path to citizenship that might deter Republican votes, is a ploy to ensure Democrats come out ahead in the 2014 midterm elections. Other interested parties want to slow the process as well. Chris Crane, president of the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and party to a lawsuit against Homeland Security, requested a meeting with the Gang of Eight to discuss enforcement issues. But House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor still thinks reform is possible.

• Keep your eyes open for SEIU’s immigration reform campaign, which upped its game with a commercial called “America” that will run nationally on cable networks.

• Wonkblog highlights a Sunlight Foundation analysis that catalogued immigration lobbying efforts. From 2008 to 2012, groups spent $1.5 billion dollars on the gamut of immigration issues. Here’s hoping they update that total once reform is wrapped up.

• And finally, Janet Napolitano says a border security trigger is “not the way to go,” (no comment from the White House)

Stay tuned.