Immigration Reform lives to fight another day

The Post has a good round-up of yesterday's long and contentious day in the Senate.   While we are pleased that the bill has survived (click on our immigration tag for our recent commentary), the bill has come through this process battered.  It will be interesting to see over the next two days - and we are hoping there will be a final vote tomorrow - who decides to stay with the bill rather than bolting for reasons legitimate or not.  My guess this morning is that the bill will pass when it comes to a vote. 

Of all the provisions defeated yesterday one deserves another shot either in the House or in Conference.  Senator Bingaman rightly tried to end the requirement of those holding "guest worker" visas to return home after two years before re-applying for another two years.  Common sense tells you that this will lead to more undocumenteds, and will thus create more problems than it solves.  This provision needs to be improved as the bill goes forward.  

Late reports last night indicate that an amendment to sunset the guest worker plan after 5 years may have passed.  If so this would be a positive development, but let's wait this morning for more details.

We also have a great deal of sympathy for the case being made by Microsoft and others that the new point system may interfere with their ability to bring in the high-end workers they need.  In general I am very skeptical of the new point system, and hope there can be further debate about it in the House. 

The House.  Yes, very soon, this bill may come to the House.  While Senator Kennedy built this bill to not just pass the Senate, but to pass a chamber with a much more reluctant set of Republicans, we have to remember that unlike the Senate the House did not go through a long debate last year.  Many Members are unfamiliar with either the old bill or the new one, and will need time to digest it all, talk to folks back home, etc.  The lead Republican on the key House Committe, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, is a friend of the Minutemen and one of the most outspoken opponents of Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the nation. 

Getting the bill this far has tested friendships, been very contentious and just been plain hard. But as hard - and as important as it is - it is about to get even harder when it comes to the House.  The opposition is more intense, and the advocates not as battle tested as Senator Kennedy, Senator Salazar, Senator McCain and the Senate team.  But to the House it looks like it will come - and that is remarkable progress.  Be prepared all for what is going to be a debate of enormous consequence in the new House of Pelosi.