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House of Representatives to take up immigration reform bill

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House of Representatives to take up immigration reform bill

With the U.S. Senate passing a historic immigration reform bill before the Fourth of July recess, the House of Representatives is tasked with debating immigration reform. The Senate passed their version of the bill by a comfortable margin (68-32) but some believe that such consensus will be difficult to attain in the House.

Part of this has to do with how the political power is distributed. Republicans outnumber Democrats 234 to 201, and they are skeptical on a path to citizenship for immigrants currently in the country illegally. They also appear unwilling to compromise on border security which was a hot topic of debate in the Senate.

Perhaps the most telling element will be the constituents that the representatives serve. Many represent districts that have few Hispanic voters and would not be swayed into supporting a bill that does not affect their voting base.

Nevertheless, the competing definitions regarding legal status, restitution, and qualifications for citizenship are set to be central issues in forthcoming debates. As the Assocated Press reports, some lawmakers are open to granting undocumented immigrants guest worker status only, while others support a path to citizenship only through limited channels (e.g. employer, family sponsorship).

The parties have engaged in the traditional saber-rattling before debates begin. Democrats have pledged that they will accept nothing less than what Senate Democrats passed regarding a path to citizenship. Republicans have said that a reform bill must address all issues in a responsible manner, especially a citizenship track.

President Obama has said that he would not sign a bill that does not have a path to citizenship. We will continue to provide details as they become available.

Source: ABC, House Republicans grapple with immigration reform, July 9, 2013

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