Senate Bill No. 744, known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, was introduced in the Senate on April 16, 2013, then was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for debate. A total of 92 out of 301 proposed amendments were incorporated into the bill via committee process, and then a roughly 1,200-page comprehensive reform bill was passed out of the Judiciary Committee by a 13-5 bipartisan vote on May 21 for consideration by the full U.S. Senate.
Now, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has stated that he wants to be sure that the bill is quickly debated and approved, in some form, prior to the July 4th recess, making this the Senate’s number one priority at the current time.
While a bill requires only a majority vote to pass the Senate, that vote cannot take place until 60 percent of the Senators agree to close debate on the issue (this is called “cloture”).
This could present a challenge to immigration reform, but media analysts and pundits have speculated that there is enough motivation in both parties to get a bill finished and sent to the House of Representatives very soon, if not by the July 4th break.
The House can then take up debate on the Senate bill, or vote to take up a legislative reform package of their own.
If the House and Senate pass two different bills – which seems likely given the significantly different makeup of the two bodies – then a conference committee of appointed senators and representatives is likely to draft a compromise bill, as part of a process known as “reconciliation.”
The biggest current stumbling block to bipartisan agreement currently appears to be a dispute over how to define and establish border security. That is very critical, as the current version of S. 744 provides that border security must be achieved (however defined) prior to the processing of any applications by current undocumented immigrants for a new Lawful Permanent Resident Status.
We will be tracking continuing developments in federal immigration reform as they occur, and look forward to bringing you more information in the months ahead about the progress of proposed reforms on Capitol Hill.
As always, the Law Office of Ronald Shapiro, Esq. stands ready to serve those in need of immigration assistance, including those who are likely to be the beneficiaries of expected legislative reforms. Please contact us at (847)564-0712 to speak with an experienced and qualified immigration attorney and/or check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.