While the nation is focused on the Fiscal Cliff, there is much work afoot in Washington to press forward an immigration reform plan for passage in 2013. Leading the way is New York’s senior senator. Senator Charles Schumer has assembled a group of eight senators, four Republicans and four Democrats, to hammer out a deal on the principles for immigration reform. That agreement is expected to be arrived at in January. Soon thereafter a bipartisan immigration reform bill will be introduced in the Senate.
President Obama will begin a large-scale public outreach campaign in January for immigration reform, according to the Los Angeles Times. The president is expected to use public appearances and social media to create pressure on conservatives to pass a reform measure. Cabinet secretaries will also make the case to key constituencies like business, labor, and law enforcement about how earned legalization can help each sector. Reports say that the White House is calling on community based organizations to begin their own campaigns to pressure conservatives to vote for reform.
While many conservative politicians now say they want to pass reform to “take it off the table” before the next election, anti-immigrant groups are already mobilizing against what they are describing as a “sell-out” by politicians. These groups are threatening to run primary challengers from the right against conservatives who vote for reform. With a plurality of Republican voters now in favor of immigration reform, these threats may be more hollow than they were in 2010.
It looks as though the first reform efforts in 2013 will be for a broad change in the law that will encompass a path to citizenship for most of the undocumented, new visas for business-related categories, and enhanced border enforcement and employer sanctions. A stand-alone DREAM Act is unlikely to be voted on unless broader reform is stymied. The national organization for DREAMers, United We DREAM, endorsed this approach last week at its convention.
Now is a good time for the supporters of a more just immigration policy to weigh in with Senater Schumer at 202-224-6542.