Immigration Reform Kicks Off: A Guide To What's Happening

He waded back into it today though, as he met with a mix of activists, business leaders and law enforcement officers to talk immigration at the White House. But that's about as far as he's gone with expressing his opinion.

Some Republican opponents of the bill, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have tried to drag Obama deeper into the discussion. Cruz told ABC News this week that the president is "the biggest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform." The reason: because Obama wants a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

But so do the vast majority of Democrats in the Senate, as well as a small but growing segment of Republicans. So Cruz's comments seem more aimed at injecting Obama's name into the immigration debate.

Democrats aren't ready to let Cruz turn the debate into an Obama-bashing session. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), part of the group that drafted the immigration bill in the Senate, pointed out that he and the other sponsors are committed to citizenship for undocumented immigrants:

"Well, I think he has Obamaphobia," Menendez said of Cruz. "The reality is that it is the Gang of Eight that came together — four Democrats, four Republicans — and said that we need a path to citizenship."

Se Habla Español

While all this other stuff was going on, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) made history by delivering a 14-minute floor speech in Spanish.

According to the Washington Post, Kaine is the first senator in the modern era to give an entire floor speech in Spanish. The senator, who once served with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, said that he thought it would be appropriate to take a few minutes to explain the legislation in Spanish.

The remarks came directly after Sen. Marco Rubio spoke about his amendment to create more stringent English-language requirements for undocumented immigrants trying to obtain legal permanent residency.

I'll leave it up to you whether you want to file Kaine's speech under genuine outreach or Hispandering, but it's still unprecedented.

Update, 2:10 p.m. I added this final section about Tim Kaine's speech.

Update, 2:35 p.m. I updated with Sen. Kaine's service in Honduras. I had initially written that he served in the Peace Corps, based on what had been reported in WaPo, but didn't find any evidence to corroborate that online.

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