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Will immigration reform survive?

In an issue important to Florida and the rest of the nation, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform package in June 2013, but the effort remains stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. At this point, it appears the House wishes to take a more piecemeal approach to immigration by writing separate laws to deal with the larger issue. However, many inside and outside of Washington, D.C. feel there is a short window for meaningful reform once the primary season has passed for House members in conservative districts.

In general, much of the opposition in those conservative districts comes from those who are against any sort of amnesty for those living in the country illegally. Those members who represent these districts fear a primary challenge, and it appears they will be unwilling to take action of any kind until they know their re-election is secure. Many legislators look at Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, who saw his poll numbers plummet when he worked with the bipartisan Gang of Eight on the Senate version of the bill.

In addition, there are other issues that will be at the top of the list when Congress is back in session. These issues include a funding bill to prevent another shutdown, approval of the five-year farm bill and the looming deadline for the debt ceiling that comes in late February or early March. However, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has stated that immigration could be an issue in the House floor within next few months.

Whether immigration reform comes in one package or several separate pieces of legislation, those who seek to become legal residents may wish to keep a careful eye on the overall process. An attorney may be able to help if the laws change by explaining the new rules and assisting with required paperwork.

Source: Politico, "Immigration reform’s narrow window for survival", Seung Min Kim, January 07, 2014

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