The State of Play on Immigration Reform: DREAM Act and Ag Jobs

Talk on Capitol Hill has recently turned to passing the DREAM Act in conjunction with Agriculture Jobs or passing one or the other as a stand alone bill.

The Hill put together a fairly good summary of where the legislative process stands at the moment, it can be read here.

Both the DREAM Act and Ag Jobs legislation posses positive policy merits and have significant bipartisan support.

Having said that, there are two very real dangers in passing either of these pieces of legislation as stand alone bills.

The Amendment process in the Senate: The recent Military Supplemental amendment process showed exactly where many Republicans and Democrats stand on Immigration at the moment. There was a veritable bonanza of enforcement only amendments proposed. As is the case with most amendments, for every Republican one there is usually a Democratic side by side version.

Either one of these pieces of legislation is good, but if either is brought up alone, the flood gates for punitive Enforcement amendments would be opened. Passing these bills as part of large package provides an opportunity to have a broader discussion within the context of comprehensive immigration reform.

Bringing Republicans to the Table: At the moment no Republicans have stepped up and said they would be interested in working on CIR. Both the DREAM Act and Ag Jobs have healthy bipartisan support. Not much  else associated with CIR does at the moment. Passing either of these two pieces of legislation alone takes two huge bargaining chips off the table. Both pieces of legislation cut across the aisle and would give both parties political parties cover with their specific constituencies.

No one is under the illusion that CIR is going to be anything other then an unruly difficult lift for both parties to pass out of the Senate. Passing the DREAM Act and AG Jobs seperate will make passing it that much harder.

Again. both of these pieces of legislation have their merits. and deserve to be passed. Check back here for more in depth blog posts on these two pieces of legislation later and be sure to stay tuned for more news on immigration as it develops.