A Flurry of Immigration Reform Legislation as Congress Goes Into Recess

Immigrants are waiting for Congress to act on immigration reform - Photo: Korean Resource Center

Immigrants are waiting for Congress to act on immigration reform. (Photo: Korean Resource Center)

Following on the heels of the DREAM Act being introduced into Congress as a stand-alone bill, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S.B. 3932, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010, this week. It offers proposals on border, interior, and workplace enforcement; outlines detention center reform; provides a path towards legalization for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants; and would overhaul the immigration system, making it easier for workers to come to the U.S. for positions in which there is a shortage of American labor. It also includes the somewhat controversial Uniting American Families Act, which would grant same-sex couples the right to bring their foreign partners to the U.S.

The Immigration Policy Center has a good outline of the bill here.

Not to be outdone, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch also introduced his own border security bill Wednesday night, called The Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America’s Security Act. It focuses mostly on increased border enforcement, identity theft measures, and makes it more difficult for immigrants to collect social services. No path towards legalization here.

The House also has a bill floating around, that was introduced by Congressman Luis Gutierez last December. Potentially, if the House and Senate passed immigration reform bills, the process could move forward. But it is unlikely that will happen anytime soon–because Congress just left Washington for its pre-election recess. When Congress returns, it will be to a lame duck session after the election – not a likely time for the passage of major legislation. Both Hatch and Menendez’s bill were referred to committee.

Meanwhile, two very wealthy and influential men were in Washington on Thursday pushing for immigration reform: publisher Rupert Murdoch and N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Speaking to a House Judiciary Committee immigration panel, the billionaires said that immigration reform is a critical component of strengthening American’s economy.  Earlier this year, Murdoch and Bloomberg launched the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of high profile business leaders and mayors who are lobbying for immigration reform.

Politico reports that when News Corp’s chairman and CEO Murdoch was asked by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to explain the “contradiction” between his words at the panel and the arguably anti-immigrant message promoted daily through Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, Murdoch answered, “we are not anti-immigrant on Fox News,” and added that his views are published daily in the Journal.

“Not really,” Waters said. “Not really.”

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