The long awaited Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill was released early this morning by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The landmark bill promises to dramatically realign the U.S. immigration system by creating a path to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants and others, while overhauling the existing systems to immigrate to the United States. The so-called Gang of Eight, a group of four Republicans and four Democrats has been drafting the bill for months, wrangling over the fine points and the always heated politics of migration.
The bill, at its core, is a product of compromise and, as with all attempts at immigration reform in the last generation, it tilts to the right. It leaves some undocumented immigrants without solutions by cutting them out of the path to citizenship with prohibitive fees, date cutoffs and strict criminal background checks. And the bill allocates billions of dollars to border enforcement, including resources to prosecute criminally greater numbers of people crossing back into the United States after deportation.
At the same time, on a number of points–including the bill’s inclusion of a path to legal status for some deportees with spouses and children in the U.S., and an inclusive version of the DREAM Act–the legislation goes beyond what many reform advocates believed attainable.
This obvious point-counterpoint is what President Obama suggested when he said yesterday, “This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me.”