President Obama announced on Friday, Jan. 25, after a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, that he plans on Tuesday to lay out his plan to fix our nation’s broken immigration system and to finally provide a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented individuals in the United States. At the same time, word has come out that a bipartisan group of senators will also launch an effort on immigration next week.
After Obama’s meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, his office released a statement stating that “any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship,” and that “the President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay.” A Congressional representative present at the meeting said that Obama told lawmakers that “immigration reform is his number one legislative priority.”
What are the likely details of Obama’s immigration plans? No one knows for sure, but it is expected that he will reintroduce his “immigration blueprint” from 2011. His 2011 plan included a call for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that would require them to pay fines and back taxes and included improvements to the legal immigration system as well, including more green cards for highly skilled workers and a plan to remove caps on immigration for immediate family members of U.S. citizens.
Meanwhile the group of Senators working on an immigration bill is working fast, hoping to draft a bill by March. Senate lawmakers working on the bill include Democrats Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, and Robert Menendez, and Republics John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio. Others working with them include Democrat Michael Bennet and Republicans Jeff Flake and Mike Lee, a group called the “Gang of Eight” in the media. It isn’t known yet the exact details of the group’s immigration plan, but it is expected to include a process to legalize the status of undocumented immigrants already here and ways to admit more temporary workers into the United States, amongst other items.
This is all great news for the millions that have been waiting for immigration reform for so many years. But passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform will not be an easy battle; everyone expects that instead, it will be an emotional, tense, and drawn out process.