Immigration reform is gathering more support this week, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives, where the first immigration hearing is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.
Lawmakers now believe the time is ripe to partake in debate on immigration reform, as it has once again surfaced as a top legislative priority.
The hearing—titled, “America’s Immigration System: Opportunities for Legal Immigration and Enforcement of Laws against Illegal Immigration”—is likely to incite a diverse debate among 17 Democrats and 25 Republicans in the committee with two different witness panels. The hearing includes a range of witnesses that includes Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says House bipartisan group almost ready to present immigration reform plan
A separate group in the House are also outlining their own proposal to immigration reform. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told Univision in an interview Monday that a group of bipartisan representatives will be unveiling an immigration project to the House on February 12. Ros-Lehtinen told the network in Spanish that there are “many Republicans that support this measure.” She also anticipated that the plan would include a pathway to legalization.
The congresswoman said she is cautiously optimistic and indicated that House members are coming close to unveiling their proposal. Lehtinen exclaimed that what they hope is for their colleagues “to open their hearts” and show compassion for those 11 million persons who are undocumented.
Since last week, Congress has been pursuing immigration reform in its legislative agenda, while the White House is separately cooperating by reaching out to different partners from the business and advocacy sectors. The president is expected to meet with CEOs and labor unions tomorrow at the White House.
The “Gang of Eight” senators who unveiled their framework on immigration last week are also committing to actively engage in further negotiations, while confirming that they would hold meetings Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is part of the group, signaled that legislation could come as early as March. Yet it seems that all three sides are positioning themselves to partake in the negotiations as quickly as possible. A scheduled Senate hearing on immigration was also slated to be the first hearing taking place on February 13, under the chairmanship of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt). Leahy is seen as someone who has advocated for immigration reform in the past.
Still, observers indicate that the most contention will come in the House, particularly due to Tea Party influence among Republicans in districts whose constituency might oppose several measures including a comprehensive package. The House Judiciary Committee will now have the first full committee hearing on immigration under chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). Goodlatte was also described as a “hard liner” by some news reports and is affiliated with NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration.
“When (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) says there has to be a path to citizenship, I wonder whether he’s serious about doing immigration reform,” Goodlatte told USA Today.
When he accepted the chairmanship, he said in a statement that some legislative priorities would include immigration reform, terrorism and monitoring the Department of Homeland Security. Goodlatte was also referenced as saying that he expects the hearing to educate members who have not been involved on the issues before. The full committee is expected to have several members who are also rumored be working on immigration reform talks such as Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) among others.