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Why Push an Immigration Reform Bill That Won’t Pass?

Politico has a good story this morning breaking down criticism over Sen. Robert Menendez’s comprehensive immigration bill, which could be unveiled as early as tonight. Republicans have shown little appetite for immigration reform, panning even smaller measures such as the DREAM Act and AgJOBS to help undocumented students and farm workers. The main question, then, is why push a bill that isn’t expected to pass?

Menendez claims its a matter of good policy, and will demonstrate the differences between the two parties’ stances on immigration before the election:

“If you look at all of the polls, overwhelmingly, people want to see a resolution of the problem. They want to see our system reformed,” Menendez told POLITICO Tuesday. “So clearly, you see the difference between those who are willing to move forward and get a reform and [those who are] not, and for the Hispanic community, clearly they understand who stands on their side and [who does] not.”

It’s a message immigrants rights groups have pushed, too, in hopes that Democrats will win enough seats to pass comprehensive immigration reform down the line.

But even if it energizes the base for the future, many don’t expect it to go anywhere now. “Given the timing, given the lack of bipartisan support, I think it’s hard to get excited about it,” Marie Gonzalez, a DREAM Act supporter, told Politico.

Republicans, for their part, said they would not support a bill that included what they dismiss as “amnesty”: paths to citizenship for any of the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country. “That’s a nonstarter,” Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), chairman of the conservative House Immigration Reform Caucus, told Politico.

Menendez’s bill will likely be similar to a bill Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered this spring. Schumer’s bill included paths to citizenship and temporary worker program as well as an enforcement measures such as border security and employee verification.

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