After years of rancorous debate and at least one election in which Hispanics flexed their political muscle, an immigration reform bill is moving forward in the U.S. Senate. On Tuesday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly, 84-15, to begin final debate on the “Gang of Eight” — four Democrats and four Republicans — immigration bill.
The compromise is really about two issues: border security and a path to citizenship. Republicans demanded the former, Democrats the latter. The fate of immigration reform will ultimately depend on the willingness of each side to find the right compromise.
That’s why Senate Republicans and Democrats have consistently crossed party lines to vote down amendments that would tip the balance too far one way or the other.
When Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., attempted to place an amendment to the bill in committee that would have extended immigration benefits to the gay partners of American citizens, he lost the support of fellow Democrats and had to withdraw the bill. (He re-introduced it Tuesday.) Republicans similarly, and fittingly, balked at various “poison pill” amendments that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, attempted to insert.
Lindsey Graham said, the estimated $20 billion would “break the bank.”
But perhaps Cornyn wouldn’t have felt compelled to set such unrealistic security benchmarks had Democrats not been so unwilling to negotiate firmer triggers on a path to citizenship, which goes beyond the path to legalization this newspaper has long advocated.
The House is the wild card in the immigration reform game. Republicans, many of whom oppose any path to legalization without verifiable border security benchmarks, hold 234 of the 435 House seats. Even if the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill is passed, it will have to be reconciled with whatever bill, or package of bills, the House approves.
That’s when the real action will occur, later this summer. The trick is to get there, with the strongest bill possible.
The Dallas Morning News