Immigration Reform 2013: House Gang Preps Comprehensive Bill For October Push

 @LauraMatt
on August 29 2013 1:45 PM
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    Participants at a rally in Los Angeles earlier this year pushed for an immigration system overhaul. Getty Images
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    A immigration reform rally in California. Reuters
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After years of waiting and several missed deadlines, the House of Representative’s bipartisan “Gang of Seven” is ready to push its 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill sometime in October, a Democratic staffer close to the group told International Business Times.

Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said earlier this week, while speaking in Republican territory in Virginia, that he’s already signed off on the measure and eager to introduce it. According to the staffer, all the Democrats on the bipartisan group support the agreement and are waiting for their Republican counterparts to sign off on it.

When the Republicans give the OK, the group will wait for the “right bipartisan moment” to introduce the bill, probably sometime in October. By that time the bipartisan group hopes Congress will be over the budget fight, with an appropriations bill passed to avert the threat of a government shutdown.

“I think the work has been done,” the staffer said. “I think they’ve got a good proposal. I think they’re waiting to see whether there is any chance that a comprehensive bill is going to be looked at, or components of this bill could be looked at. But I think there are probably some additional machinations that have to happen first.”

At the moment, Democrats in particular are waiting to see what will become of the piecemeal bills being passed by the House Judiciary Committee, which they believe will ultimately fail because of their hard-right stance. By then House Republicans will need a solution to the problem and the comprehensive legislation will be on hand.

“So I think they are going to have a hard time getting 218 votes on the partisan bills that came out of Judiciary, but they might make a run at it,” the Democratic staffer said. “I think at some point in October there’s going to be a re-evaluation of the strategy among Republicans, and at that point I think if enough of them are serious about getting something done -- and I think there are enough of them, especially in the leadership -- then we will be at a bipartisan moment when they need to have a different approach that would get both Republicans and Democrats on the same bill.”

Republican members of the “Gang of Seven” didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment. However, the Democratic source explained, without getting into specifics, that pro-immigrant advocates would view the House’s comprehensive proposal as containing things that are better than the Senate-passed reform bill,  some things that are worse, and a lot of identical elements.

“To break it down, it may be 50 percent identical; 30 percent of it might be worse and 20 percent of it might be better, comparing that to the Senate bill and from the perspective of the pro-immigrant advocacy side,” he said. “In general the structure is similar and there are provisions for legal immigration. There [are] provisions for reducing illegal immigration and there [are] provisions for keeping families together and stopping the deportations of so many folks with deep roots in the U.S.”

On Monday in Chantilly, Va., which is represented by Republican Congressman Frank Wolf, Gutierrez hinted that a bill could be coming soon. Gutierrez said there are already 40 to 50 House Republicans in support of comprehensive immigration reform, with another 185 to 190 Democrats on board.

“So we know we already have a majority,” Gutierrez, a member of the House bipartisan gang, said. “It exists. We’ve fought for it. But they won’t allow us to vote. Now they say that a majority of the majority must first make an agreement before we can all vote.”

“I’ve already signed off on the document,” he later added when speaking of the comprehensive plan. “I’m ready to go. I’m ready to make an announcement. I’m ready to have a bipartisan deal. If we don’t work with this group of seven, then we will find another group of eight, but we’re going to find another group of something that’s going to bring us to a solution in the House of Representatives. We refuse to let the people down. We refuse to lose. We’re going to continue to fight.”

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