A bipartisan group of senators dubbed the "Gang of 8" is set to release a long-awaited immigration bill sometime in the next several days -- and possibly as soon as Thursday. But they're facing pushback from Republican lawmakers who want to slow down the action by examining the bill over multiple hearings, potentially several months' worth.
Outside, on the Senate side of the Capitol, people from around the country gathered to demand swift action on immigration reform, with a special focus on a clear and achievable path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country, one of the most contentious issues on the table. While the Gang of 8 has committed to including a path to citizenship, it will be tied to the implementation of border security measures and immigration advocates are concerned it might be either too long or too difficult a process to apply to the bulk of affected immigrants.
"We don't want a political band aid," Marianne Delaney, a volunteer with Neighbors Link, an organization in Westchester, N.Y., that serves the immigrant community, told TPM. "We want a path to citizenship and enough visas for the real immigrant population of this country, which is working in every industry from meatpacking to hotels to construction."
The rally outside was organized by unions, immigration advocates, Latino groups, and religious organizations, among others, all of who have played a key role in pushing for immigration reform. Participants were optimistic about the prospects of real reform, citing their political momentum in the wake of President Obama's dominant re-election victory, which featured strong turnout from Latino voters.
"We're excited our voice is being heard," Veronica Fernandez, who came with members of her church from North Carolina, told TPM. "We have a lot of faith in God, our president, and the Senate to hear the voices of so many thousands of people."
So far, immigrant rights advocates and the various interest groups aligned with them in favor of reform have dominated the post-election discussion. But there are still several months before legislation is likely to reach the president's desk in the best of circumstances, meaning there's plenty of time for the other side to try and rally their own supporters against the upcoming immigration bill.