Two weeks ago, Vice President Biden said that he hopes that “Congress will show the wisdom to pass the bipartisan immigration bill by the end of the summer. They must, and I’m optimistic.” Like Vice President Biden, we are also anxious to see Congress pass immigration reform as soon as possible.
For the last two weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee in charge of drafting and sending the immigration bill to the Senate floor, has been reviewing proposed amendments to the immigration bill. The process they are engaging in is known as a “mark-up,” a formal legislation revision process. Once the Judiciary Committee has finished reviewing and voting on the amendments, and after it approves the bill by unanimous consent, the committee will send the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
The House, unfortunately, is a few steps behind the Senate. House negotiators only just reached a deal on their bipartisan immigration bill on May 16th. They hope to release their bill in early June. Once they release their bill, the House Judiciary Committee will go through the same amendment process that the Senate is now engaging in. After their amendment process is finished, the committee will vote on whether to place the bill on the House floor for a vote.
If both the House and the Senate are able to muster the votes to pass immigration reform legislation, House and Senate leaders can then participate in a formal conference committee during which the two houses will attempt to resolve legislative differences between the two versions of the bill. Once the bill is agreed to and signed by the leader of each house, the bill will then go to the President for his approval or veto. Then and only then will we finally be able to celebrate.
As you can see, there are many steps and potential obstacles to passing immigration reform legislation. However, despite the long wait ahead, we finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and will be ready to celebrate with our clients when the time comes!
Carly Stadum-Liang, Esq.