colorlines (dot) com
January 7, 2012

What to Expect From Immigration Reform, and When to Expect It

As last week’s fiscal cliff deal left the debt ceiling and so-called sequestration disputes unresolved, pundits speculated that immigration might get pushed to the side. But congressional aides, lawmakers and advocates say the plans are on track and we should expect to see the first concrete steps sometime between President Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20 and his State of the Union address a couple weeks later.

“The fiscal cliff has not done a whole lot to immigration reform. There’s a lot of reporting on that, but it’s still moving,” a Senate Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity told me.

Work began on a bill following the elections among a bipartisan group of senators, dubbed the “gang of eight” by Politico, but which has now shrunk in size according to Washington insiders. The group is expected to take the first public step in the process by releasing a set of principles sometime after the inauguration. Full legislative language is not expected until March or April, according to the Senate aide and Beltway advocates, and a vote probably won’t come down until June at the earliest.

Both parties start the year in the red on immigration.

Republicans have for years blocked all action on immigration reform, including the passage of the DREAM Act in 2010. Democrats, for their part, also have some making up to do. Obama gained political points from progressives and Latinos in 2012 for using his executive power to protect some immigrants, most notably by granting work permits and permission to stay in the country to DREAM Act youth. But his administration also deported historic numbers in the past four years.

Just before Christmas, the Department of Homeland Security announced that in 2012, 409,000 people were deported, more than in any other year recorded. And 90,000 of these deportees were the parents of U.S. citizens, according to government date obtained last month.

So both parties say they now want to do right by immigrants, and immigration rights advocates say they’re gearing up for a ground game to push for the broadest possible legislation. “All our efforts have to be focused on comprehensive reform like a laser beam,” said Sylvia Ruiz, head of the Immigrant Justice Campaign for the two million-member SEIU labor union. “The goal is winning federal reform in this legislative cycle.”

Read the rest here; it gets interesting:
What to Expect From Immigration Reform, and When to Expect It - COLORLINES