Analysis by Jim Avila & Serena Marshall
The Senate passed immigration reform with an impressive 68-32 margin, including 14 Republican votes, hoping to pressure the GOP-led house to follow.
“The strong bipartisan vote we took is going to send a message across the country. It’s going to send a message to the other end of the Capitol as well,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said yesterday following the vote. “The bill has generated a level of support that we believe it will be impossible for the House to ignore.”
The euphoria had hardly passed for supporters of comprehensive immigration reform when House Speaker John Boehner, R- Ohio, put on the brakes, warning that the House does not like being pressured.
“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” he said yesterday following the Senate vote. ”We’re going to do our own bill through regular order, and it’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people.”
So what’s next? In what is left of the House Gang of 8–now reduced to 7 with the exit of Raul Labrador of Idaho–Rep. Luis Gutierrez , D-Ill., promised to continue to work on a wide-ranging immigration fix as well.
“The group still has a response, still plans…to bringing forward a bipartisan bill,” he said.
The Gang of 7 has agreed in principle to legislation that would include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants now in the United States.
“I leave my home knowing I’m going to come back. My children when they say goodbye to me know that their daddy is coming back,” Gutierrez said. “That is not the reality for 12 million immigrants.”
But there is no guarantee Boehner will allow the house to vote on that comprehensive bill. More likely the House will produce several separate bills on border safety, high-skilled workers and employee verification, leaving out the critical pathway to citizenship.
Which is why yesterday’s celebration is already beginning to fade.
Janet Murguia, CEO of the National Council of La Raza , said at a news conference today, although the Senate passage was historic, there is still much to be done.
“We have won an important and historic battle, but we have yet to win the war,” Murguia said. “We can’t pretend to be able to control the process…but what we can say is we want a vote.”
Murguia said even if the House comes to a different proposal for reform, a vote should be taken and allow a Senate-House conference committee reconcile the difference.
“We deserve a vote and they should weigh in on an issue now that the senate has weighed in,” she said. “This issue deserves a vote, we deserve a vote.”
Yesterday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), known collectively as the Congressional Tri-Caucus, got together to express their disappoint over the House’s ‘piecemeal’ approach to reform.
Rep/ Rubén Hinojosa, R-Texas, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said they are “determined that we’re not going to give up.”
“Immigration reform is like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “It requires us to put all the pieces together in order to get a solution. Unfortunately the house continues to go down the path of doing small bills that do not address one of the major pieces–and that is legalization.”
The next key date in the House is July 10, after the Independence Day break, when conservatives meet in the Republican Caucus with Speaker Boehner to decide how to proceed.