New Immigration Bill Aims to Keep Families Together

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A Republican and Democrat in the House of Representatives put out a small-bore immigration bill on Thursday that could bring some relief to families torn apart by the immigration system.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), would give immigration officials discretion when it comes to granting waivers to allow immigrants to reunite with spouses, children and other family members in the U.S.

Unlike the massive immigration bill passed in the Senate this June, this measure wouldn’t dramatically rework the country’s immigration laws.


But it would bring some relief to families dealing with deportations of relatives who aren’t criminals or who have committed low-level crimes.

And people are being deported. The Obama administration has removed roughly 400,000 people each year of his presidency, a historically high rate.

O’Rourke sees the impact of President Obama’s policies on his El Paso constituency and said it motivates him to look for a solution.

“That has been one of, if not the biggest, disappointments of his presidency,” O’Rourke told Fusion. “More than any other president on record, his administration has done more to separate families and create real pain, hardship and suffering in communities like mine.”


The chances are slim of this bill, or any immigration bill, passing in the House this year. But it shows that some Republicans, like Rep. Steve Pearce, are willing to compromise on the issue.

Here's the bill:

American Families United Act (H.R. 3431)


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.

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