House Democrats introduce immigration reform bill

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    Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) is among the cosponsors of a new immigration reform bill that House Democrats introduced on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    A group of House Democrats introduced on Wednesday a comprehensive immigration reform bill that they feel confident will garner enough bipartisan support to pass in the House.

    “We want to tell our colleagues in the House — Republicans and Democrats — that we’re ready to move,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a press conference Wednesday. “We stand here telling you we’re ready to move, and we believe we’re going to have many, many supporters of this legislation.”

    Becerra said the bill is composed of provisions that have been approved by Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress. It includes many provisions from the Senate-approved immigration reform bill, including a path to citizenship for many of the 11.7 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.

    Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described the bill as “100 percent bipartisan.” She told reporters it takes away the Senate bill’s border security amendment, known as the Corker-Hoeven amendment, and replaces it with a border security bill that passed with unanimous bipartisan support in the House Homeland Security Committee in May.

    That bill, crafted by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas), gives the Department of Homeland Security two years to come up with a plan to apprehend at last 90 percent of individuals who cross the border illegally.

    “Every piece of this legislation has had bipartisan support, and that is important to us,” Pelosi said.

    Becerra and Pelosi were among the House Democrats who played a major role in crafting this new immigration reform bill.

    Immigration reform bill needs GOP backing to pass

    Democrats insisted the bill would pass if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) allowed it to come to the House floor for a vote, because it contains many provisions that have received bipartisan support.

    But getting the bill to the House floor for a vote won’t be easy, especially right now when many House Republicans favor a piecemeal approach to immigration reform. Boehner has repeatedly said he won’t bring up a bill to the House floor unless it has majority support from House Republicans.

    So far, no House Republicans have signed on to be cosponsors of the immigration reform bill introduced by House Democrats. The current cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Joaquín Castro (D-Texas), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Steven Horsford (D-Nev.).

    But Democrats said they are not giving up and vowed to work with Republicans to gain support for the bill.

    “The reality is we need to move forward and we need to take up a bill, and the only way immigration reform can pass is if Republicans and Democrats work together towards a compromise,” Garcia said. “That’s why today we’re not introducing the perfect bill but we’re introducing a comprehensive reform bill that provides that space for compromise.”

    Like Garcia, Chu said the bill is not perfect, but she described the bill as a step toward fixing the nation’s broken immigration system. She said that, like with Senate bill, this bill leaves out “important” provisions, including the sibling visa category.

    The good news, Chu said, is that it does allow U.S. citizens to petition for their siblings and it also eliminates the current immigration backlog within eight years, something she said will bring “families together much faster than what they experience today.” She noted Asian and Pacific Islander Americans currently make up more than 40 percent of the 4.3 million individuals caught in the current immigration backlog.

    The introduction of this immigration reform bill comes on the heels of a large-scale mobilization effort that will take place in the coming days in an attempt to continue pressuring House members to act on immigration reform. Advocates will hold marches and rallies in more than 80 cities across the country on Oct. 5, followed by a concert on the National Mall on Oct. 8.

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