NPR Story
1:18 am
Thu February 28, 2013

The Immigration Reform Tamal

SAN DIEGO — Alongside all the sequester-related lobbying that’s going on in Washington these days, lots of folks are trying to put their two cents, and chapters, into an immigration reform bill.

I get press emails daily from different organizations — immigrant rights, pro-high skilled visa business groups, pro-beefed up border security groups — outlining the particular items they want included in a bill. I can’t wait to see what the Gang of Eight finally comes up with.

Will it include drones, as the border hawks want? Will it say something about worker rights, as some unions want?

Here are a few other pitches I’ve heard lately for inclusion in the bill:

• Immigrant rights activists in San Diego want something included in the bill that would make border and immigration authorities more accountable for excessive use of force and other abuses of authority. Parents of individuals killed or seriously wounded by border agents, along with immigrant rights leaders, left San Diego for Washington on Monday to meet with lawmakers on the subject.

• Raul Hinojosa, a Chicano studies professor at UCLA, wants to add remittance reform to the immigration overhaul bill. Immigrants send billions of dollars back to their home countries each year. Hinojosa says a lot more of that money could be put to use developing a better life in immigrant-sending communities if it were cheaper and easier to send remittances (and then, in theory, fewer immigrants would want to come here).

He’s meeting with members of the Hispanic caucus to propose taking a chunk of the fine paid by HSBC for laundering drug cartel money and putting it toward remittance reform.

• California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, backed by immigrant rights groups, wants the reform bill to include protections that help keep undocumented and/or deported parents from losing their children just because of their immigration status. Rep. Roybal-Allard has introduced similar legislation in the past, unsuccessfully.

With everyone wanting to put their favorite ingredient in the tamal, is there any chance of keeping most people mostly happy? Or at least keeping the right people happy enough to get a bill passed?

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