IMMIGRATION REFORM, INTERRUPTED

With around 11 million people living illegally in the United States, Congress is finally stepping up to the plate and addressing immigration reform. This is an issue that President Barack Obama has established as a high priority for his second term in office, and one he had hoped would have been decided on by August. While a bill has successfully passed in the Senate, the process has slowed in the House of Representatives where many republicans disagree with the portion of the proposal that calls for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. On July 16, with less than a month until his original deadline expires, the President has announced he does not expect Congress to pass immigration reform until the fall.

The breakthrough bill passed by the Senate a month ago made a compromise by providing a pathway to citizenship while developing a more stringent border security. Still many Republican lawmakers dislike the suggestion of rewarding those who entered the country undocumented and therefore broke the law. GOP leaders are torn between catering to the ever-increasing Hispanic constituency and maintaining the status quo in an effort to please their traditionally conservative base. Some want to play it safe by finding alternatives that do not fall in either extreme, such as addressing the matter in a piecemeal fashion. This option includes allowing people that were brought to the United States as children to obtaining status, but ignores the solution in regards to all other individuals.

Obama has emphasized that it is not only the Hispanic community that supports reform but other typically conservative groups including corporations, labor, and Christians. Although he is unsure as to when lawmakers will agree on a bill, the President is convinced that whatever they draft must include a prospect of citizenship for the millions who continue to reside in this country undocumented.

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