Elena Marquez, center, and others at a rally to call on Congress to pass immigration reform. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
It's been a good week for proponents of immigration reform. The sweeping bill that seeks to legalize most of the country's 11 million unauthorized immigrants was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday night, after five full days of debate and amendments that did little to significantly change the original compromise.
So, what's next for the bill?
It is likely to be introduced on the Senate floor as early as June 3, and lawmakers will be able to propose more changes to the legislation there. Meanwhile, a secretive bipartisan group in the House also may release a competing immigration bill, though members are divulging few details about what their proposal will look like.
Immigrant advocates are worried the Senate reform bill may face a tougher crowd in the Republican-led House than it has so far in the Senate.
Ben Monterroso of the Service Employees International Union said advocates worry that GOP House members, all already in election mode for 2014,"are going to play to the base."
"I'm not sure that the extremists [in the House] are going to allow this process to go without a fight," Monterroso said.
Overall, the bill moved slightly to the right during its trip through the Senate committee. Republicans on the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee were able to push through a few modest amendments that beefed up some of the border security provisions of the original bill, as well as loosening restrictions on and increasing the amount of visas for the high-tech industry to hire foreign workers.
Unions were unhappy with the high-tech visas amendment but willing to live with it. "We appreciate the work done by the Gang of Eight, as well as all those senators—both Democrats and Republicans—who engaged in good faith in the arduous job of advancing this bill," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a statement. "We applaud the progress by the Judiciary Committee, but we will still work to make a good bill even better."
Meanwhile, liberal groups expressed disappointment that the bill does not yet include a provision to allow people in same-sex marriages to be able to sponsor their spouses for green cards. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, withdrew the amendment this week after being warned it could disrupt the fragile bipartisan coalition that supports immigration reform.
Though the bill remained largely unchanged in the Senate committee, three main issues have emerged as major potential sticking points that could derail the bill in the coming months:Read More »from What’s next for the immigration reform bill?