A discussion on Univision's Spanish-language "Al Punto" program on Sunday showed how advocates of "comprehensive immigration reform" think they can achieve passage of their legislation this year.
Frank Sharry of America's Voice predicted that a bill would emerge from the Senate Judiciary Committee by April. "In May and June it will be before the full Senate", he said. "We need to come out of the Senate with a bipartisan vote, like 65-35 … . This will send a signal to the lower chamber [the House of Representatives]. If we come out of the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote in the spring, we will have a much better chance to survive."
Katherine Vargas of the National Immigration Forum said that, while a reform bill's prospects in the House of Representatives are "the big unknown", efforts are underway to win over conservatives. "Conservative groups like the evangelicals are applying pressure so that they [Republicans] will say that immigration reform is a political and moral necessity for the Republican Party", Vargas said.
In a discussion of whether the reform bill would provide not only legalization but also a path to citizenship, host Jorge Ramos noted that many illegal immigrants "tell us, in effect, the only thing I want is to work and not be deported."
Vargas saw the issue as a challenge for Republicans. "It wouldn't be good for the Republican Party to tell Latinos 'no', that they can't get access to citizenship as is the tradition of the nation of immigrants that we are."
Jorge Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles added this: "How are we going to deny a population that is so dynamic, so good for this country, this measure of dignity. Let it be an option, [though] perhaps not everyone will want it."