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Garcia: Immigration reform passes major milestone

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Garcia: Immigration reform passes major milestone

A major milestone was passed last Tuesday night when the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 to advance the amended bill to the full Senate. Among those voting “aye” was Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

The road will continually get rougher for comprehensive immigration reform, with a some battles expected in the Senate and likely an all-out war in the House, with some hard-line Republican members objecting to any pathway to citizenship at all.

There undoubtedly will be casualties and concessions along the way to compromise.

Among them Tuesday was a proposed amendment by Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont to grant gay Americans the same right as straight Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for green cards. “With a heavy heart,” Leahy withdrew the gay-marriage amendment in order to save the overall bill.

Meanwhile, in a nod to demands from the business sector, a last-minute amendment by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah was added to increase the allotment for high-tech workers from other countries. In return, Hatch joined four other Republicans in voting to move the bill forward.

Still, the basic tenets remain intact for the immigration reform bill framed by the so-called Gang of Eight, which includes Flake and fellow Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.

"I’m told that the Judiciary Committee hasn’t in any fundamental way undone the agreements that were agreed by the eight senators, so I’m hopeful we can get a bill that we can pass here in the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, alluding to Republican support in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The Senate vote could come in June.

Sixty votes are needed to move the bill to the Republican-controlled House. Once there, it’s expected to be an uphill battle – at best – with the formidable obstacles of border security and enforcement awaiting, somewhere just past the flashing warning signs of “Amnesty: Bridge Out.”

At this point, it’s all about building bridges, something we haven’t seen in Washington, D.C., in recent years.

It will take compromise.

It will take concessions.

Some might argue it will take four-wheel drive.

But with this crucial “initial test drive” successful, supporters of immigration reform hope to have enough traction to eventually trail blaze their way to the elusive pathway of citizenship for America’s 11 million undocumented residents.

The road ahead affects us all.

Morrison Institute for Public Policy is a leader in examining critical Arizona and regional issues, and is a catalyst for public dialogue. An Arizona State University resource, Morrison Institute uses nonpartisan research and communication outreach to help improve the state's quality of life.

The director of communications for the Morrison Institute of Public Policy at ASU, Garcia is a longtime, award-winning journalist whose experience as a top editor, columnist and reporter included positions at The Arizona Republic, The Daily Times, Tucson Citizen, USA Today and The Associated Press.

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