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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senator backs off move to change cutoff date in immigration bill

On Sunday, we explored the issue surrounding the cutoff date in the immigration bill and efforts to change it to bring more undocumented people out of the shadows.

Today, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., withdrew his amendment to move the date to April 17, 2013 -- when the bill was introduced -- from Dec. 31, 2011. He explained why in a message to the Tampa Bay Times:

"We are seeking to preserve as much unity as possible in support of the compromise S.744 draft bill. There was the very serious danger that asking for a vote would have split the coalition that we have behind the bill and endangered the bill as whole. I am considering offering the possible amendment on the floor and we’ll make decision probably in next week or so whether to proceed, depending on how much support there is for it."

He was guaranteed none of the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee would have gone along and put Democratic members of the Gang of 8 in a tough spot. Prospects of changing the date on the floor are equally remote. But advocates say the date as proposed would leave hundreds of thousands -- probably more -- out of a process designed to fix the nation's broken immigration system.

"If the idea is to get the issue off the table, they need to bring the maximum number of people out of the shadows," said Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "You're spending all this political capital and you might as well solve the problem. Otherwise, you're planting the seeds for another undocumented population several years down the line."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 1:18pm]


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