On October 2, 2013, Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. The bill is largely modeled after the Senate bill which was approved in June, but also includes some elements from House legislation regarding border security and eliminates the “border surge” provisions of the Senate bill that were added as an amendment shortly before being approved.
The question now is what this bill does to move the process of immigration reform in 2013 forward. According to some observers, the bill itself is not likely to receive a vote in the House because the Republican leadership has made it clear that they do not favor either the Senate’s approach or doing immigration reform in a comprehensive manner. Indeed, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Bob Goodlatte, has indicated that he wants to introduce a number of different bills that target different areas of our immigration system rather than one large bill. It should be noted that none of these bills, so far, offer a path to citizenship and most, if not all, have been heavily criticized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association for their harsh and unrealistic provisions.
What this bill might do is to create pressure of the House leadership to move forward with some legislation which could be taken to a conference committee with the Senate. Alternatively, the House leadership could allow a vote on the bill or a similar bill, which would stand a good chance of passing with some limited Republican support. In short, the passage of immigration reform this year is by no means guaranteed, but at the moment it is not yet dead either.