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Leaked White House Immigration Bill is "A Tempest in a Teapot"


president obamaThis weekend, USA Today published details of a White House draft immigration bill, setting off a furious round of Washington hand-wringing, analysis, and recriminations.  In light of the leaked plan and related speculation, America’s Voice Education Fund adds the following:

Relax.  Breathe deeply.  Things remain on track for real immigration reform in 2013.

“The leak is nothing more than a tempest in a D.C. teapot,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund,  “The President said in Las Vegas that he would have an immigration bill ready if the Senate process falters.  The fact that his Administration is working to do so is no surprise.  Whoever leaked this draft bill may have thought they were throwing a wrench into the process, but in fact it’s only serving to keep the urgency of the issue alive.  The Senate is rushing to meet the March deadline, the White House is readying a bill just in case, and everyone is taking to heart the need to move a bill quickly.  The real story is that we continue to make rapid progress towards reform that includes a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants who are Americans in waiting.”

Of note, the leaked plan is not the entirety of the White House bill, nor is it a final version.  With that said, the draft bill seems entirely consistent with what the President and the White House have already said and released.  While we like the fact that the path to citizenship is straightforward, free of nebulous “enforcement triggers” that could delay the process indefinitely, we are concerned that it could take at least 13 years for long-term residents to work through the system and become citizens.  We believe the path should take a matter of years, not decades

Beltway palace intrigue over the leak aside, the next step in the legislative process remains unchanged.  In early March  Senator Leahy (D-VT), the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, can move forward with the bipartisan Senate bill–if it’s completed–or take up the President’s bill–if the bipartisan process stalls–or put together a bill that combines the best of both.