Immigration Reform 2013: Will the GOP Derail It Because Of "Amnesty"?


Immigration reform is certainly one of a handful of issues receiving much deliberation in Washington at the moment, and immigration reform groups such as The Dream Is Now campaign are in full swing, attempting to influence upcoming immigration legislation. While the reforms currently pending in the Senate have been a mixed bag, a divided Senate and House marked by entrenched Republican opposition threatens to undercut reforms that immigrant rights advocates are calling for.

The numbers game dictated the inevitability of comprehensive immigration reform. Although much of the current GOP constituency are united in opposition to reform, the demographic shift has rendered that opposition void, at least on a national level. This was proven by the 2012 elections. Initially a documentary detailing the accounts of undocumented youth, The Dream Is Now has expanded into a full-fledged campaign, with a website jam-packed with stories and petitions, as well as boasting representatives on college campuses all over the country.  The work that groups like The Dream Is Now do are important because they unify reform activists in pushing for desired policy, as well as tell the powerful stories of those whose stories often times escape the imagination of the public.

Here is San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo joining The Dream Is Now, advocating for pathway to citizenship. Romo stirred up some controversy when he arrived at the Giant championship parade wearing a t-shirt that read "I Just Look Illegal."

Moving through the Senate is an immigration bill crafted by the so-called "Gang of Eight." The bill includes  provisions that would stipulate that children of undocumented workers be placed on a five-year path towards permanent residency, provided that they fulfill requirements such as graduating from high school or obtaining a G.E.D., a provision that groups such as The Dream Is Now campaign is almost certain to endorse. The bill also contains provisions such as a 13-year path that would eventually allow most undocumented immigrants to move toward citizenship.

Overall, the bill includes some improvements, noticeably for younger people and those working in agriculture. A blanket 13-year path, however seems unreasonable, especially considering the fact that many of these families have been here for a long time already. In fact, according to the Center for American Progress, 2/3rds of immigrants moved here before 2000, and while American backlash is seen as an inhibitor, according to an ABC poll, approximately 70% of Americans think the 13-year wait is too long

With all that said, there appears to be strong GOP-led opposition waiting in Senate, not to mention the House. Fears of the bill amounting to amnesty are causing major concern on the right. Marco Rubio, Republican and Gang of Eight member, conceded this much when he acknowledged that the bill in its current form was unlikely to achieve the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome the filibuster. This essentially conceded to Tea Party advocates and much of the Republican party that there were still ways to strengthen the bill through tougher requirements and enforcements.

Going forward, the inevitable changes made to the bill will be of keen interest to The Dream Is Now. The final bill to be voted on will assuredly be tougher and more stringent when it comes to its requirements and their enforcements, but will these changes undermine support for comprehensive immigration reform from the left as well as immigrant rights groups?