Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Gutiérrez Introduces Immigration Bill in the House

On Tuesday, Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez, Democrat of Illinois, introduced a bill in the House that would open a path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants.

The bill is seen as a start to the beginning of a long battle between Democrats and Republicans over comprehensive immigration reform. President Obama has pledged to take up immigration early next year among other pressing issues such as Afghanistan and healthcare reform.

However, some on Capitol Hill gave the Gutierrez bill little chance of passage.  Declared “dead on arrival by some Republicans and, privately, by some Democrats” the provision to provide a pathway to legalization was labeled as “amnesty” and categorized as “impractical”. Two previous Congressional efforts to fix immigration laws in the Bush years were unsuccessful due to similar objections.

Representative Brian Bilbray (R-CA) who heads the House Immigration Reform Caucus said the bill would only generate a new wave of immigrants to compete with Americans for jobs at a time when unemployment is at 10 percent.

Democratic aides in the Senate said that Gutierrez’s bill is too liberal to win passage as it is currently written. The legislation calls for improved border security, a crackdown on employers who hire unauthorized workers and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Under Gutierrez’s bill, illegal immigrants would have to demonstrate they had been working, pay a $500 fine, learn English and undergo a criminal background check, among other provisions to gain legal status and citizenship.  Unlike previous proposals in Congress, they would not have to return to their homeland first.

One key provision that the bill does not include is any type of temporary worker program.  There is a currently a wide array of such types of visas available to foreign workers that have the support of many Republicans and Democrats alike including the Obama administration.  Rather, the bill would create a federal commission to study the best approach to address “future flows of workers.”

“In order for immigration reform to be effective, it needs to be comprehensive,” said Representative Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who worked with Gutierrez on previous immigration bills but not this one.

Flake said, “Any bill without a temporary worker program is simply not comprehensive.”

Senator Charles Schumer (NY-D) is working with some Republicans on a separate bill that he has said could be ready whenever Obama asks for it.

New York Times


  1. Hopefully Obama can tackle this issue this coming year….and it does not fail like years past.