Grijalva: Debate on immigration may take timeGrijalva: Debate on immigration may take time
February 08, 2013 9:58 PM
BY CESAR NEYOY - BAJO EL SOL
Congress could begin debate within six months on an immigration reform measure that could give millions of undocumented immigrants a path toward legal residency in the United States, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva predicts.
But a vote by Congress on any reform bill is not likely to come until just before the end of the year, the Tucson Democrat said during a recent visit to Somerton.
Grijalva, whose district includes the southern half of Yuma County, said any measure that advances through Congress will not confer any automatic benefits for immigrants.
“There will be many people who won't qualify, either because they have committed some crime or because they can't demonstrate that they have roots here aside from the fact of being in the country.
“The central issue of this reform is to unify families where, for example, the children are U.S. citizens but the parents have been deported. The process is to unify families.”
The applicants for legal status, aside from having to pay fines, will have to meet certain requirements for legal residency, he added.
In the wake of the November elections, Grijalva said, support in Congress for immigration reform has increased from less than 50 percent of lawmakers to nearly 60 percent.
But in the event Congress does not act on the issue, he added, President Obama has the option of taking executive action to enact immigration reform, as he did last summer when his administration suspended deportations of undocumented youths for two years to give them time to apply for legal residency.
Grijalva said he and other lawmakers will visit their districts to try to line up broad-based community support for immigration reform amid what he expects will be a drawn-out debate over the subject in Congress.
“It's going to be a process of almost seven months,” he said. “Right now, we don't have any concrete proposal. We are practically starting from scratch.”