Immigration Reform Debate Underway in the Senate

May 13, 2013

By Leslie Wollack

Last week, Senators began the arduous pathway to comprehensive immigration reform as the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first markup on S. 744, the bipartisan bill introduced by the so-called "Gang of 8" earlier this month. With over 300 amendments proposed to the bill, and over seven hours spent on border security and control amendments alone, it is expected that the process will take weeks before the bill can advance out of Committee.

The markup will continue this week in the Judiciary Committee. You can follow the Committee discussion live at http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=0f3eeb468d37b2f466044eb203322959. A listing of all the amendments to be considered by the Committee can be viewed here http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/immigration/amendments.cfm

Although a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House have been meeting for several years to develop their own immigration legislation, the group still has several major issues to resolve and has not introduced a comprehensive bill. Instead, many House members including House Judiciary Committee Chair Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) have indicated that they would prefer a piecemeal approach and have introduced individual pieces of immigration legislation rather than the Senate's preferred comprehensive approach, which is supported by NLC.

In meetings on Capitol Hill last week with local officials representing NLC's Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials (APAMO) and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Local Officials (GLBTLO), lawmakers were cautiously optimistic that the Senate bill would pass. The path to reform is less clear in the House where a bipartisan group of House members has been working for years to produce a bill.

NLC continues to call on city officials to contact their legislators and urge them to support common sense reform to boost local economies, bring millions of unauthorized immigrants out of the shadows and into the national economy to boost productivity, increase wages and contribute to vibrant local economies and provide support for local government services to maintain public safety and the costs of health care and education services necessary to support aspiring citizens.

As part of any reform measure, NLC will continue to oppose unfunded mandates or provisions that would preempt local government authority. NLC's policy can be found here.

Members of Congress will be home between May 24 and June 2 for the Memorial Day Recess. We encourage local officials to meet with Senators and Congress members during the recess session to voice support for comprehensive reform rather than a piecemeal approach.