Tags: Immigration | Reform | Unlikely

Experts: Immigration Reform Unlikely in 2017

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By    |   Monday, 13 Feb 2017 08:36 AM

Comprehensive reform of the immigration system in 2017 appears unlikely, policy trackers and officials told CNN.

"I think it's going to be really limited in scope," said one House leadership aide.

The last time a major reform bill was attempted was in 2013, when a bipartisan bill was passed in the Senate and rejected in the House.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the no. 2 Senate Republican, said he believes the best way to move forward is in small steps. Other immigration issues take priority, he said.

"My conclusion is we're not going to be able to do a big comprehensive bill. We've tried that. It just doesn't work. We need to secure the border and we need to enforce the law in regards to people with criminal records who are illegally in this country. And then we need to have a further conversation," Cornyn told Bloomberg in November 2016.

However, small steps face opposition as well. Democrats want methods for undocumented immigrants who are living peacefully in the U.S. to gain citizenship, while many Republicans are focused on enforcement.

Democrats may face political turmoil if they go along with a President Donald Trump-endorsed plan, such as giving up the call for pathways to citizenship.

"You can't move something that is less controversial, because there is nothing that's immigration that's not controversial right now," immigration attorney Enrique Gonzalez told CNN.

Paying for reforms or enforcement such as Trump's border wall is also at issue: Republicans want a border adjustment tax, and Democrats said that pathways to citizenship could come with fees.

A group of bipartisan congressmen called the Gang of Eight sponsored the rejected 2013 deal. All of them except Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., appears willing to lead efforts to reform the immigration system.

Moderate Republicans in the House are discussing reforms, but one Democratic aide said their work will unlikely be successful without a top conservative on board.

"You would have to have political legs for immigration reform before you even (start) talking about the Gang of Eight membership," the aide told CNN.

On Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said Trump appeared interested in revisiting the 2013 bill. "He didn't walk away from it. He engaged," Manchin told Roll Call.

However, Cornyn disagreed with Manchin's assessment.

"I've never seen a story spin out of control so quickly… The president did express an interest in the topic and that was a little bit of a surprise," Cornyn said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., are focusing on legal immigrants with their introduction of the RAISE Act, which would admit immigration to the U.S. based on skills, not on joining family members.

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Comprehensive reform of the immigration system in 2017 appears unlikely, policy trackers and officials told CNN.
Immigration, Reform, Unlikely
Monday, 13 Feb 2017 08:36 AM
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