Does Budget Deal Mean Immigration Reform Likely?

For the first time in recent memory, Congress is poised to pass a budget bill that promises to fund the federal government without the threat of a shutdown. While many have welcomed the atmosphere of compromise that has been missing in recent years, some are asking whether it indicates a willingness by politicians to address other hot-button issues. Specifically, some believe that immigration reform may be the next issue addressed by Congress.

In the midst of budget talks, leaders in the Republican party, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, indicated that reaching an agreement on immigration reform was one of their priorities for 2014. Vice President Biden, too, has said that a deal on immigration reform appears to be likely in upcoming months.

Even if lawmakers agree that the time has come for sweeping change to our country's immigration system, the reality is that this legislation faces significant hurdles. For example, House Republicans remain opposed to proposals that would allow a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country. This opposition comes despite support for such a move in the Senate. Some experts have said that this particular issue is likely to cause trouble for any significant reform efforts because many Republicans in the House are up for re-election at the end of 2014. If they were to agree to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, some say, it could hurt them in the November polls.

In June of this year, the Senate passed an immigration bill that remains dead in the House. If passed by the House, the Senate bill would provide a significant overhaul of the immigration system. It also increases spending for border security.

Despite the belief of many that the Senate bill stands little chance of passing in the House, some House Republicans are stepping up efforts to get Speaker Boehner to get moving on immigration reform. Whether these efforts will prove successful remains to be seen, but some conservative groups have said that they will withdraw support from Republicans in the House who speak out in favor of the Senate bill.

Only time will tell whether the House takes on the issue of immigration reform in the new year. Although reform has been needed for many years, the political climate has not been particularly favorable. Immigration advocates are hopeful that this has changed and that 2014 is the year that Congress will pass comprehensive reform.