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Immigration News Flash

March 2, 2007

Update From the Hill

Greenberg Traurig Shareholder Laura Reiff is very hopeful that we will see positive changes to the immigration law. "We are working diligently to support a comprehensive solution to immigration reform. CIR is good for business, employees and for the American people" Reiff said.

Update on the Kennedy and McCain's Immigration Measure (Congress Daily, February 28, 2007)

Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are preparing to unveil a comprehensive immigration measure, possibly as early as next week, according to an aide familiar with the negotiations.

The bill will go directly to the Judiciary Committee's markup agenda, with the goal of reporting it before the Senate adjourns for its Easter recess.

The measure will contain all of the main components of the measure that passed the Senate last year -- a legalization program for undocumented immigrants, a guestworker program, and increased immigration enforcement and border security provisions, according to lawmakers and aides involved in the issue.

Lawmakers and aides also say the bill must move through the Senate during the first part of the year or it will get hung up in presidential campaign rhetoric and end-of-year wrangling over appropriations. "I know that this is the greatest opportunity right now, the next several months," McCain said Tuesday.

Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., who helped broker a last-minute deal that allowed the immigration bill to pass the Senate last year, said he wants to see an immigration bill on the Senate floor in April or May.

Salazar hinted that one provision in last year's bill might fall by the wayside, a tiered system that assigned different eligibility criteria to undocumented immigrants seeking permanent legalization based on how long they had been in the country. "That's one of the points of discussion," Salazar said. "We want a bill that's workable."

The tiered eligibility program in last year's Senate bill was designed to woo reluctant Republicans. But this year, the Democratic majority in the Senate changes the negotiating dynamic. An aide said Democrats can now push harder for provisions they want.

McCain said the administration is "heavily involved" in negotiations on the bill, which represents a departure from last year, when the White House championed several broad principles of immigration legislation, but declined to get involved in specifics.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy is not satisfied with the administration's statements of support and plans at a hearing today to press Commerce Secretary Gutierrez and Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff for a commitment from Bush to back the Senate legislation.

"Want to make sure he sticks with us. Last time, there was a bill on the floor, and he said he supported it, but the side deal was to make sure the Republicans killed it" in the House, Leahy said. Asked how long he needed to complete an immigration bill, Leahy responded, "It could be a matter of weeks. It could be months and months and months, depending on what the White House does."