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Immigration reform bill: many amendments for Senate to consider

“The devil is in the details.” Anytime one hears that well-worn phrase, it could well be important values and principles are at stake, not only details.

Such is the case with the debate about federal immigration reform legislation. No matter what form it finally takes, that legislation will greatly affect immigration in Minnesota and across the country. Indeed, even if fails to pass, the effect will be significant not only for immigrants and would-be immigrants, bur for everyone who lives in the U.S.

The proposed reform bill is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The large scope of the task at hand is reflected in the sheer size of the bill. In its present form, it covers 867 pages. And there are as many as 300 potential amendments to be considered.

Some of those amendments are of course meatier than others. One of them, offered by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, would do away with the path to citizenship for undocumented people who entered the country without authorization.

Another senator, Mike Lee of Utah, seeks to relax the proposed bill’s restrictions on employers that prevent hiring undocumented people. Under Sen. Lee’s amendment, a wide range of domestic employees would be excluded from the employer restrictions. This would include not only nannies and housekeepers, but also gardeners, caretakers and a number of other job categories.

Both Sen. Cruz and Sen. Lee are Republicans. But there are plenty of amendments coming from the Democratic side of the aisle as well. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, for example, seeks to provide eligibility for public housing benefits for immigrants who have experienced domestic battery.

In short, the Senate has its work cut out for it. And if the reform bill goes forward, the House will have a chance to propose amendments as well.

But after years of talk about immigration reform, the train — perhaps a bit overloaded — is at least trying to pull out of the station.

Source: The fine print of immigration reform legislation,” WSBradio, James Dupree, 5-9-13

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