4 Parts of Immigration Reform That Could Pass Today

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Despite what the White House might say, immigration reform is largely considered dead in 2013. And next year is no guarantee, either.


Here’s another option: look at doing a scaled-back version next year.

The Senate passed its version of immigration reform in June, but as leading senators like Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, the bill isn’t perfect.

With that in mind, Congress could try cutting out some of the more contentious parts of the legislation and coming back to the table with a leaner bill in 2014.

Here are some policy points where Republicans and Democrats in both Houses have already found a lot of common ground:

DREAMers: Some Republicans who are wary of a mammoth immigration overhaul have shown support for a measure that would grant legal status — and a path to citizenship — to undocumented young people.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) were supposed to produce a bill that would do that, but it hasn’t materialized.

Still, it’s definitely an achievable goal.

E-Verify: The workplace verification system isn’t perfect — it’s more likely to wrongly flag immigrants as ineligible than U.S.-born citizens, and civil liberties groups oppose it.


But there’s broad support among politicians in Washington for a nationwide system to check worker eligibility, like E-Verify. Under the Senate immigration bill, the system would be required for all employers within five years. And even a leaked version of President Obama’s more liberal immigration bill had mandatory workplace checks.

A deal for farm workers: The Senate immigration bill would have given undocumented immigrants working in agriculture a shorter path to citizenship than others.


Agriculture workers would need to spend five years in a provisional immigration status before being eligible for a green card. Other undocumented immigrants would need to wait ten years.

The bill also would have reformed the industry’s guest worker program, allowing workers more mobility and employers easier access to foreign labor.


Both the Farm Bureau and United Farm Workers supported the compromise in the Senate, and there’s not a whole lot of public resistance to immigrants working on farms.

Visas for skilled workers: The tech industry has poured money and energy into supporting immigration reform and politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken notice.


When it comes to visas for highly skilled immigrants, neither political party has much stake in fighting back. Plus, many of the workers in white-collar jobs aren’t unionized, so there’s not a unified political lobby to push back against a skilled-worker visa expansion.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.