Rubio, Diaz-Balart On Board As Obama Shoots For The One Big Immigration Bill

Jan 14, 2013

Holdouts against amnesty for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U. S. are bracing for the lobbying pressure they are certain to experience as President Obama, grassroots groups and converts in Congress prepare for the Big Immigration Bill.

END OF THE PATH: Illegal residents could look forward to citizenship under the comprehensive immigration bill President Obama favors.

It isn't even drafted yet but numerous sources (Bloomberg and Fox News, to name two) are reporting that the President is ready to abandon nibbling around the edges of immigration reform and promote one huge, audacious bill that provides, at least, a path to citizenship for illegal residents.

And Florida, as a major "destination" state, will also be a major player in the immigration reform campaign. William Gibson writes in the Sun Sentinel:

Some evangelical churches next Sunday will kick off 40 days of prayer and reading of scriptural passages to demonstrate their concern "for the immigrants among us." The Florida Chamber of Commerce plans a letter-writing campaign. Rallies, marches and news conferences will clamor for comprehensive legislation.

And a group of farm workers from South and Central Florida is heading to Washington in minivans to lobby for the cause.

The president, who is known to regret the absence of immigration reform from his first term achievement list, has already taken some steps. Among them, resetting deportation rules so that children, parents and spouses of U. S. citizens (and even some illegals) could remain legally in the U. S.

The November election returns, featuring an epic turnout by Hispanic voters for Obama, has changed the atmosphere in Washington, although many in Congress still oppose what they consider "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.  But House Speaker John Boehner has said he's now ready to take up a bill. And  a Republican congressman from Miami told the Sentinel there's no time to lose:

"It's got to be done the first year of this Congress," U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, said last week. "I'm not naive. It's a very heavy lift, but it has to get done."

He and fellow Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will host an invitation-only forum in Doral on Monday to gather thoughts from immigration stakeholders.

A bipartisan working group of senators, including Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have been meeting to draft a bill. Slate says there will be more in it than paths to citizenship:

Any comprehensive bill would likely also strengthen immigration checks for workers, increase the number of visas, particularly for highly skilled immigrants, and create a guest-worker program for low-wage immigrants.   Although Republicans have generally been more willing to consider immigration reform than in the past, several have suggested it would be best to handle the issue in pieces rather than as part of a broad bill. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he would prefer several bills because bad policy has a way of getting into comprehensive legislation. But “it’s not a line in the sand for me.”

Rallies and news conferences will be taking place all over the country, advocates say, though organizers have been advised to use restraint rather than trigger the backlash that have damaged previous immigration reform efforts.