Senate Immigration Deal Winners & Losers

A bipartisan group of senators agreed on a framework for immigration reform over the weekend. It's an honest deal, but it leans Republican, and it will probably lean harder right if and when it gets to Obama's desk.

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A bipartisan group of eight senators agreed on a legislative framework for an immigration policy overhaul. Here are the winners and losers of immigration round 1.


  1. Republicans
    The GOP got some key compromises here: none bigger than that their policy happens first. One rule of politics is that the farther something is pushed down the timeline, the less likely it is to happen. In the senate immigration reforms, a legal path to immigration for illegal immigrants (which Democrats want) is contingent on strengthening the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico (which Republicans want).
  2. Marco Rubio
    The 2016 presidential hopeful needed to show leadership on immigration to bolster his reputation as a Latino ally among Republicans. He has made immigration a central issue, and was among the eight senators to strike this immigration reform deal.
  3. Farmworkers
    The biggest surprise in this immigration deal, and the biggest win for Democrats, is that farmworkers will get a faster path to citizenship than most illegal immigrants. The political reality is that while migrant farmworkers have no political clout, farmers have plenty, and farmers have come to rely on the cheap and arduous labor of illegal immigrants.
  4. STEM Graduate Students
    The easiest part of this immigration reform deal was giving Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Master's and PhD graduates a green card. That is one piece of this deal that will likely remain unaltered on the way to Obama's desk.


  1. Poor illegal immigrants
    Yes, this bill framework provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country. However, that pathway involves first securing the border, and then illegal immigrants must pay back taxes and, to achieve permanent residency, learn English and civics. For a family living paycheck to paycheck, that might not be feasible, and for many, learning enough English to pass a test is no small feat.
  2. House Republicans
    How are Republicans winners but House Republicans losers? This framework for an immigration reform deal is generally good for conservatives, but House Republicans' hands are tied. That this is a bipartisan senate deal makes it difficult for them to complain about its contents, especially with the GOP's desperation to make nice with Hispanics before the next election. John Boehner may simply put the bill up for a vote, and allow for both parties to split, which is becoming the new normal for this Congress.
  3. The Humanities
    Oh, the humanities! It's great that immigrant STEM grads will get to use their skills and knowledge in this country, but equally sad that literature and history scholars from other countries will be sent back. Our country will be poorer for it.
  4. President Obama
    This senate immigration bill framework preempts Obama's own announcement on immigration policy. With this deal in place, it will be difficult for him to advocate for a more liberal bill, as Republican Senators have no reason to accept anything more liberal right now. I won't say Obama is out of opportunities to shape immigration legislation, but his path to do so just got trickier.

Who else won and lost? What should be in an immigration bill? Let me know in the comments and on twitter.

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