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Can Senate Leader Reid find enough Votes to Pass Amnesty Immigration Reform?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) says that even if a dozen Democratic senators decide not to back an immigration reform bill, he is "sure" the votes can come from Republicans. Reid –who’s becoming ever more vocal about this issue — said that he was willing to put "the Democratic Party’s reputation on the line for immigration reform,". His comments are being closely monitored by Spanish-language media around the country.
The leader has acknowledged that not all 59 Democratic senators may back a comprehensive reform bill. Losing 10 or 12 votes from his own ranks, he added, "would leave us at 48. But I am sure that we will find 12 Republicans. I have no doubts this will be the case."
Sixty votes are needed in the Senate to end a filibuster.
Speculation –and concrete vote tallies– become more important as lawmakers from both parties prepare for next Wednesday’s meeting on immigration with President Barack Obama. Univision.com’s Jorge Cancino reported the White House expects the talks will lead to the introduction of a reform bill "in the fall."
While President Obama’s approach to immigration seems extremely deliberate to many –especially those hoping for a comprehensive reform bill including the legalization of millions of undocumented people–, so far he has been following the careful path he charted during the campaign and the first weeks of his presidency. While he announced early on, in February, that he was "very committed" to passing a reform, he said work would begin this year on "a draft" proposal — stopping short of promising that a bill would become law in 2009.
While Reid seems confident he can get an immigration bill through the Senate, the House –where 218 votes are needed– is another matter.
Reid, said he has had several conversations on the issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.). "She perfectly understands how important immigration reform is," he said.
"We can’t deport 11 million undocumented people, we can’t do it physically and financially, as some would want," Reid said in yet another interview.
Obama Very Committed To Immigration Reform
Between signing the stimulus bill into law and traveling to Canada, President Barack Obama found time Wednesday to fulfill a campaign promise: he went back on the air with the nation’s most popular Spanish-language radio host, Los Angeles-based Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo. In addition to the usual jokes and amiable bantering, the phone interview produced a small bit of news: Obama told Sotelo he would call on immigration leaders in the next few months to begin preparing "a draft" proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.
Obama said it is necessary to start working on reform now, because getting it passed will take time. But he said he was "very committed" to making it a reality.
The president also said that getting new immigration laws passed will be difficult. Because the U.S. economy is in worse shape than two and three years ago, when immigration bills failed in Congress, he said it would be even more difficult to pass one now.
Obama called on pro-immigrant organizations to propose ideas on how to pass the reform through Congress. But, he added, before concentrating on immigration reform, he will focus on improving the system for legal immigration.
Since Obama took office, and in the middle of the economic crisis, pro-immigrant advocates have been waiting to hear concrete news from the White House on when the administration will begin to move forward on immigration reform. During his presidential campaign, Obama had said he would address the issue during his first year in office.
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