Republicans try to delay immigration bill

A third of Senate Judiciary Committee members voted yesterday to try to delay reform to the US immigration laws at the very first committee hurdle, implying that the legislation could be in for a tougher time trying to get through Congress than had been hoped would be the case by its bipartisan backers.

Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley proposed an amendment that would have forced the government to prove that the border with Mexico had been “fully secured” for six months before enabling the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States to start putting in their applications for legal status.  At the moment the bill proposes that the process can start, presuming that the government is able to come up with a scheme for the tightening of border security.

The amendment was defeated but five other Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were in support of it.  The first stage of the legislative process as the Committee considers amendments is likely to last until July at the earliest.  The only Republicans on the Committee who voted against the amendment were Senators Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and Jeff Flake from Arizona, both of whom are members of the “Gang of Eight” who came up with the bill.

The Senate Committee is mostly made up of Democrats, which means that the immigration bill should be able to go ahead through the mark-up process, though the events of yesterday are now causing fears that there is not the broad bipartisan support for it that has been hoped.