In the May issue, we reported on the immigration bill pending in the Senate ( “Immigration Issue Heats Up”). Later that month, the Senate approved a measure that would tighten security at the Mexican border and set up a guest worker program that would pave the way for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
It's the second part that is likely to be a sticking point as the houses of Congress try to get together on a bill. The legislation that passed the House of Representatives in December 2005 did not include a guest worker program — which President Bush supports — or any way for illegal immigrants to become legal. It is widely considered an overly stringent bill, and has been criticized for such extreme measures as making living in the country illegally a felony. The sides must find common ground on this issue if a bill is to be signed into law.
Whether a compromise will be reached is yet to be determined. While, as of mid-June, legislators were saying all the right things about working out their differences, “cautious optimism” is probably the most accurate description of the mood toward the bill being passed, and anyone giving odds better than a coin flip is probably being overly confident.