Wisconsinites speak out about immigration reform bill

Bipartisan immigration reform bill passed Thursday
Wisconsinites speak out about immigration reform bill
Sen. Ron Johnson

Wisconsinites are speaking out about a bipartisan immigration reform bill.

The United State Senate passed it Thursday, clearing the way for 11 million illegal immigrants to become American citizens. It also calls for 20,000 new border patrol agents and 700 miles of fencing along the U.S./Mexican border, which comes with a $30 billion price tag.

But it faces a rocky path in the GOP-controlled House, where opposition is stronger.

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said, “While this bill purports to bolster border security, the legislation grants the Executive Branch, currently the Obama administration, over 200 waivers and grants of discretion on whether or how to implement the bill’s specified elements.”

Wisconsin’s United Methodist Immigration Task Force promotes immigration rights and education. The group’s chairperson, Donna Veatch, said, “We need to take care of people because that’s what this country is about.”

She followed Thursday’s vote online and expressed relief when the bill passed 68-32.

“Our work begins with how we help the immigrant population of our community find their way along that (citizenship) path and be able to participate as full members of society,” said Veatch.

But House Speaker John Boehner signaled it doesn’t stand a chance and said, “The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes.”

The major sticking point for several Republicans is the pathway to citizenship, saying it gives amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

But Veatch said, “The whole process of the pathway is that there is this element of earning your way.”

Wisconsinites speak out about immigration reform bill

Rep. Boehner hinted at smaller pieces of immigration legislation that focuses more on border security and enforcement rather than the citizenship provision.

The White House has already said it backs the Senate’s bill. The House could take up the bill before August when Congress takes its summer recess.