Monday June 17, 2013
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the Senate's "Gang of Eight," said Sunday that the comprehensive immigration reform bill is almost what it needs to be to win congressional approval.
Rubio said on ABC's This Week that the proposed legislation needs stronger border security measures to ensure passing in the House.
"I think it's an excellent starting point, and I think 95, 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go," he said. "But there are elements that need to be improved."
The negotiators are trying to come up with more specific targets and triggers to satisfy conservatives who are skeptical about the government's ability to stop the flow of illegal immigration into the country.
"I think the debate now is about what that border security provision looks like," the 42-year-old Rubio said, "and if we do that, this bill will have strong bipartisan support. If we fail, we're going to keep trying, because at the end of the day, the only way we're going to pass an immigration reform law out of the House and Senate so the president can sign it is, that it has real border security measures within it."
The Senate voted 82-15 last week to take up the plan, far above the 60-vote threshold for passage. The more votes it gets in the Senate, the better chance it has in the House, where Speaker John Boehner is reluctant to bring up any immigration bill that doesn't have strong support among Republicans.
Boehner has said he wants to have a vote on immigration reform before Congress takes its break in August.
Monday June 10, 2013
The comprehensive immigration reform efforts in Congress got a big boost over the weekend when Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the conservative Republican from New Hampshire, came out in support of the "Gang of Eight" plan.
"Our immigration system is completely broken," Ayotte said Sunday on Face the Nation on CBS. "This is a thoughtful, bipartisan solution to a tough problem."
The Senate begins debating the bill in earnest this month, and it will take 60 votes to prevent a filibuster from opponents of reform. Ayotte's support brings approval one vote closer.
She said the bill is a "tough but fair way" for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants who entered the country illegally to "come out of the shadows" and "earn citizenship." Ayotte said she supports the way the plan forces the unauthorized immigrants to "go to the back of the line," learn English, pass a criminal background check and pay their taxes.
Ayotte also likes the idea of creating more visas for high-skilled immigrants in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields.
"The broken immigration system we have now is unworthy of a great nation," she told the CBS audience. "It's time for Washington to tackle this problem head on."
Monday June 3, 2013
Last week, Nevada's Republican governor signed a law that authorizes driving privilege cards for unauthorized immigrants, a move that was heralded by the state's fast-growing Hispanic population.
"Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's privilege card will increase the number of drivers on Nevada's roads that are insured and aware of traffic rules and regulations," said Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is of Mexican ancestry.
The privilege card is not valid as identification. Immigrants must pass a driving test to get one, obtain insurance and demonstrate that the understand the state motor vehicle laws. The Democratic-led state legislature strongly supported the legislation.
Maryland, Illinois, Oregon, New Mexico, Washington and Utah are other states that allow driving privileges to undocumented immigrants. The Utah law was pushed by former Gov. Jon Huntsman, who in last year's primaries ran for the Republican nomination for the presidency.
Sunday June 2, 2013
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a leading member of the Gang of Eight, said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday that a comprehensive immigration reform bill will pass the full Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support by the Fourth of July.
"We're going to put immigration on the floor starting on June 10," Schumer said. "I predict it will pass the Senate by July 4. We're hoping to get up to 70 votes -- which means a lot of Republicans."
Schumer also said that the controversies that have plagued the Obama administration in recent weeks -- alleged misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department's monitoring of news agencies, and the response to the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya -- haven't diminished the immigration bill chances of getting through Congress.
"These so-called scandals have not diverted us one iota," Schumer said on the NBC news show, adding that overwhelming approval in the Senate might "change the equation" in the House and promote more support for the plan, especially from moderate Republicans.