Immigration Reform 2013: Democrats Have the Clear Edge

By now, everyone has heard of the Gang of Eight in the Senate successfully putting together a bipartisan bill on immigration reform that should placate both Republican and Democrat demands.

But what has gotten a lot less attention is the response in Congress.

With less than a week left till the Gang of Eight's bill is expected to be released in Congress, the Democrats have released a blueprint of their own with principles that they hope will guide the immigration debate that is soon to ensue.

This blueprint, by a group of moderate Democrats calling themselves the New Democrat Coalition, has four main requirements of immigration reform: adapting our immigration system to meet the needs of a global economy; ensuring adequate border security; creating an efficient employment verification system; and providing the 11 million immigrants already in the country an earned path to citizenship. Interestingly, they have also called for binational same-sex couples to be granted the same rights as other families under this bill, a provision that seems very unlikely to pass but highly likely to cause intense debate.

The release of their plan also seems to come at a fortunate time with regards to congressional Republicans. Certain Republican hardliners, like Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas), are softening their stance on immigration. Just today, Poe has been quoted as saying, "I used to think we had to do border security before we ever talk about other immigration issues. But we have to do them in tandem, because [otherwise] we’ll never get to those other issues." This stance is almost a full 180 degree shift from Poe's view a month ago that border security was the first and only immigration issue of importance.

And Poe isn't the only Republican that might be changing his tune. Many have attributed this change to the fact that Hispanics are the largest growing voter bloc in the U.S., and their support is seen as key to a Republican victory in 2016. A compromise on immigration might be just what the GOP needs in order to win that bloc back come next election cycle.

It would, however, be an overstatement to say that all Republicans are softening. Some are holding even tighter to their conservative policies, while some are calling for the Republicans to take a harder stance, or even come out with a plan to rival the Democrats.

While we all have to wait and see what happens with the official immigration reform bill that is released into Congress, we can still enjoy the vivacious debate and speculation as a prelude.