Immigration bill before Senate committee

Jun 13, 2013

Part 1 of Roger McDonough's report:

The Senate voted Tuesday to proceed in their deliberations on immigration reform. KCPW’s Roger McDonough spoke with Mark Alvarez, a Salt Lake attorney, Spanish language radio host and Immigration Specialist with Telemundo Utah, to get an update on the reform process, and to hear about the human element often lost in the debate.

"The so-called Gang of Eight’s plan to overhaul immigration was heard by the gang of 100 today [on Tuesday]. The full US Senate had its first procedural vote on the issue, and chose to move forward with the debate. President Obama urged the Senate to advance what he called important work.

“This week the Senate will consider a common sense, bi-partisan bill to… It’s fair for middle class family…by stopping those who try to skip the line… it’s the right thing to do.”


The motion for cloture (or to proceed with debate) exceeded the 60-vote threshold needed by 22 votes. 60 is also the magic number needed for the bill to pass out of the Senate, and onto the House, where it faces a tougher slog.

Mark Alvarez is an attorney and Immigration Specialist with Telemundo Utah and host of Sin Rodeos, a Spanish Language radio program in Salt Lake that frequently takes up the issue of immigration. Alvarez says that he believes the prospects for immigration reform are good – because of economic and political motivations.

Utah’s Republican Senators were split on Tuesday’s vote. Senator Orrin Hatch voted to continue debate, though he is the sponsor of 4 amendments to the 1000-page-bill related to welfare and taxation, which he wants included before he will vote for final passage of the bill.

Senator Mike Lee, who was once a member of the gang of Eight is adamantly opposed to the bill drafted by the bipartisan group. He says that a piece by piece approach would be better than a massive overhaul of the system.

Alavarez, meanwhile, stresses that there is a deeper story behind the facts and figures driving the reform effort.

In the weeks ahead, supporters of the immigration reform proposal will try to shore up support while opponents will look to thoroughly amend the legislation to change certain key tenets. As it is currently written, the bill includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country – though there are several hurdles, and a waiting period of up to 13-years involved in that process. That pathway, however circuitous, is the key for both opponents and supporters of the initiative.

For KCPW News, I’m Roger McDonough."


Part 2 of Roger McDonough's report:

Members of an immigrants-rights group began an extended vigil Wednesday morning outside of Senator Orrin Hatch’s Salt Lake City office. Meanwhile, Mayor Ralph Becker hosted a roundtable discussion on immigration reform at the City Library. KCPW’s Roger McDonough covered both events and filed this report.

"The immigration debate had its first procedural vote in the US Senate on Tuesday. On Wednesday, local activists and politicians took the issue to the streets.  

Outside of Senator Orrin Hatch’s office at the Federal Building, the local chapter of a national immigrant youth network gathered to urge Hatch to be a champion for compassionate and effective immigration reform.

Angelica Rodriguez, President of the Salt Lake Dream Team says the group is trying to remain visible, and vocal, to get their point across.

The DREAMERS are so-called because they are the would-be beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, which Senator Hatch co-authored in 2001. That legislation, officially called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act – would have provided a pathway to citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants, who arrived in the US as minors.

Provisions of the act have made their way into the current reform legislation.

The Dream Team’s Rodriguez, herself an undocumented immigrant, read one of the hundreds of letters the group had collected, before handing the stack over to Heather Barney from Senator Hatch’s office.

Barney accepted the letters and said they would make their way in front of the Senator. She also praised the group for its tenacity and determination.

Meanwhile, on the 4th floor of the Salt Lake City Library, Mayor Ralph Becker hosted a closed-door, roundtable discussion with nearly 20 community and business leaders, immigration experts, elected officials, representatives of faith groups, law enforcement and activists.

Afterwards, at a press conference, Becker said the discussion was a way to find common ground, and to lay the groundwork for the future. 

The mayor said that he held the roundtable at the request of the White House, and that his office would send a report back to Utah’s congressional delegation and to the President.

In Washington, the push to advance the more-than 1000-page immigration reform bill continues. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that his intent is to pass the bill out of his chamber by July 4th.  If and when it does advance, the legislation faces a tougher slog in the House, whose divided Republican majority presents a potential roadblock to long-awaited comprehensive immigration reform.

For KCPW News, I’m Roger McDonough for Utah Public Radio."