June of 2013 has been a stressful and hopeful month. On one hand was following the immigration agenda debated in the Senate and all the advocate groups pushing for a favorable vote. It did not come true in years past but currently there was hope, and a lot of work, to make those hopes come true.
After debating for several weeks, the senate approved an Immigration Reform bill with a final vote of 68-32, and a border security provision, that had been added on Wednesday.
This was a first step; the next one will be to have the approval ot the House before the end of August when the congressional session is over. Probably the bill will not remain as it is now. Even more it is really critical that all those who believe in this bill have their voices heard as the debate opens in the House.
Regardless of the result in the Senate, now the House of Representatives, the majority of which are republicans, will begin to discuss parts of the bill like the “pathway to citizenship”, which they have been reluctant to deal with in the past.
It is important that groups continue to support the Immigration Reform, and it is of most importance that parts of the bill are explained to local groups so that people may have the opportunity to clarify, understand and debate the issues.
For people opposed to war and violence, the requirement of billions of dollars for border surveillance, including drones and a huge increase of border patrol agents, close to 20,000 agents, implies a militarization of the border.
This approach to border security is not only costly, but it also endangers the people’s civil rights, especially people at the border who, most of the time, have been subject to profiling and use of excessive force.
It should be remembered that the bill’s name indicates the purpose of the same.
The bill is the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. It should not be a surprise now that the main emphasis is on border security since it was clearly stated in the name itself.
There is a lot of information to be read and analyzed. For example; that in order to enact any type of legalization, immigrants must voluntarily provide their personal information. This also corresponds to a statement from Janet Napolitano: “We want to know who they are, and where they are”.
Among the good points on the bill are the provisions for Dreamer’s with a five-year path to lawful permanent residence and citizenship. Also, the House Judiciary Committee has recently passed a significant piece of immigration reform for agricultural workers.
In short, the House of Representatives must pass a bill that can be reconciled with the Senate bill. Speaker of the House John Boehner has already made it clear he will not bring any bill to the floor unless it has the support of a majority of the Republican Party. He has also said the House will not consider the Senate bill but instead work on legislation that could be reconciled in conference.
Some questions that may appear for discussion: Would the Senate agree to permanent resident status but no citizenship as a consequence of entering or remaining in the country illegally? Would Senators be willing to accept a series of individual bills that accomplish the same goals as their comprehensive bill?
So far people have been able to influence the discussion and vote by calling, emailing and writing to members of congress. Let’s keep on working, there is much to be done.
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