With contribution from AZPM Staff
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva said he wants to create a new immigration reform plan as talks stall in the House of Representatives, and expectations drop that any plan will be voted on this year.
The immigration reform bill, created by the U.S. Senate's bipartisan group "Gang of Eight," passed the Senate 68-32 at the end of June. The bill includes $46.3 billion for border security, a path to citizenship, and new visa programs for high-skilled, low-skilled and agricultural workers.
Grijalva has been vocal about his opposition to section of bill that asks for tougher border security measures, such as doubling the number of Border Patrol agents, and adding more watch towers. He has called this an "overkill" and a possible "militarization of the border."
The reform currently rests in the hands of the House, where it has faced many challenges, and where bipartisanship on the issue hasn't been as successful as it was in the Senate.
Members of the Congressional Border Caucus met in Nogales this past Friday afternoon. Grijalva hosted them to an ad doc hearing, and a tour of the Nogales ports of entry.
At the event, the caucus expressed to be publicly pushing for immigration reform without increasing border security provisions, but they’re also turning to their own immigration reform strategies.
After the meeting, Grijalva was vague on what his bill would contain, but it will be modeled after one introduced by Democratic Congressman Solomon Ortiz’s 2009 reform plan.
That year, Solomon helped introduce the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009.
Grijalva said he doesn’t think immigration reform has collapsed completely for this year.
“I think there’s still a lot of pressure that is going to be brought to bear, I think the urgency is going to rise, the public pressure. The 115 arrests in [Washington] D.C. the other day, I think that’s going to continue to mount,” he said.
Those arrests happened as protesters tried to reignite an immigration debate sidelined by the circumstances in Syria.
Meanwhile, the border caucus has been meeting with local leaders, trying to build a consensus against any new kind of border enforcement buildup.
Among the testimonies the caucus has been listening to American Civil Liberties Union lawyers alleging abuses by federal border agents and complaints of unnecessary delays lines at the shipping ports of entry by cross-border trade lobbyists.