House Democrats Introduce Immigration Bill

Tired of waiting and the stall tactics, the House Democrats introduced their version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, H.R.15 earlier this month.  Perhaps it was the federal government shutdown or the October blues, but the announcement seemed to have barely made a ripple with politicians preoccupied with other, more pressing events.

Immigration Bill H.R.15

The House CIR bill, H.R.15 largely mirrors the bipartisan Senate immigration bill, S.744.  Introduced on October 2, 2013, the House bill is 1137 pages long.  Key players in the drafting of the bill included the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the New Democrat Coalition, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Democratic caucus, as reported here.

One of the key provisions in the bill is to provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently in the country illegally, conditioned on many requirements having first been met.  The pathway to citizenship allowance though is sure to draw opposition from House Republicans.

The substantive changes in the bill, however, include beefed up provisions related to border security, including:

  • Border security metrics goals (Section 4)
  • Border security results strategy (Section 6)
  • Implementation of U.S.-VISIT (Section 7)
  • Alternative model for border security strategy development (Section 8)

The border security measures in the House bill would take a strategic approach by placing the onus on the Department of Homeland Security to develop a detailed plan to reach a “90% apprehension” rate for illegal border crossings within a finite period from the enactment of the bill into law.

So far, the bill has received a majority of support from House Democrats (120), with some (moderate) House Republicans expressing “openness” to the idea of a House CIR bill.  We’ll have to see how the bill evolves in light of the debt ceiling debate and the federal government shutdown.

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