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Reid Weighs A “Down Payment” Approach To Immigration Reform

Immigrant rights groups are trying new “down payment” approach to reform: small bills now, major legislation later. The Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson reports that in lieu of comprehensive immigration reform this year, advocates hope to pass the DREAM Act and AgJOBS, two bills that would help smaller segments of the immigrant population.

Prospects for the bills are still uncertain — chief sponsor Sen. Dick Durbin told DREAM supporters last week the bill could be passed this year but has been vague about whether it would come as part of a comprehensive reform effort.

Reform advocates are eager to show that this “down payment” strategy is working: America’s Voice sent out a press release claiming Reid is stepping up on the DREAM Act and “is meeting today with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to discuss moving forward on DREAM.”

America’s Voice might be inflating the truth a bit — Reid meets with Pelosi for a leadership meeting every Tuesday, and Jim Manley, Reid’s spokesman, declined to comment on whether DREAM was discussed today. No one in Reid’s camp is saying that he has given up on comprehensive reform, but Manley confirmed that the senator is looking closely at the smaller bills:

He is still committed to reforming a system that is unfair to the American taxpayer, worker, and economy, but that isn’t possible without Republican support. In the meantime, he is exploring whether he can pass smaller legislation, such as AgJOBS or the DREAM Act, of which he is an original co-sponsor and long-time supporter. However, Republican support and 60 votes is still needed to address any aspects of our broken immigration system this year.

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