Given the controversies at the IRS and the Justice Department, as well as renewed chatter about last September’s attacks in Benghazi all occupying the headlines this week, the nation may have been otherwise distracted from significant developments in immigration reform in the past week. The bipartisan Gang of Eight working on an immigration bill in the U.S. House announced last Thursday that they had a reached a compromise, and that they will introduce their bill in June. Also on Thursday, debate continued on the proposal in the Senate Judiciary Committee. So far, more than 300 amendments have been introduced on the bill, of which only 48 have been adopted.
On Sunday’s edition of Melissa Harris-Perry, attorney and NBC Latino contributor Raul Reyes suggested that the current controversies have allowed some Republican lawmakers to appease a conservative base by lambasting the administration, which can “give them political cover to come back later and be on board for immigration reform,” Reyes said.
Democratic strategist John Rowley expressed skepticism about the future of the Senate bill, especially if it passes in the Senate and goes to the House. Rowley pointed to provisions for health care for undocumented workers as a potential point of contention that would make the bill’s success in the Republican-led house unlikely.
Another controversial addition to the bill comes from Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who has filed two amendments that would extend legal protections for immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens to same-sex couples. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona called that “a deal-breaker for most Republicans,” stating that the inclusion of Leahy’s amendments would open the bill up “to social issues.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will resume debate on the bill on Monday.
Sara Kugler is the program coordinator at the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South at Tulane University in New Orleans–headed by our host, Melissa Harris-Perry. Find them on Facebook, and on follow them on Twitter at @AJCProject.