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Immigration reform takes its next step toward being a reality or yet another casualty of Republican extremism this week, with the Senate Judiciary Committee beginning to mark it up. Amendments are due Tuesday afternoon, with dozens expected, many of them from Republicans who will never support a path to citizenship no matter what. The big question is what will happen with the Republicans in the maybe category—will support for immigration reform from the Chamber of Commerce, among other effectively Republican business interests, sway them in its favor? Or will opposition from figures like former senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint push them into voting no? The sense is that immigration reform needs a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate if there's any chance of anything happening in the House.
The next week should begin to clarify how hysterical the opposition from conservative think tanks and talk radio hosts will become, which will in turn have a major influence on Republican senators whose votes are in question. And the elephant in the room is whether the much-touted Gang of Eight will become a Gang of Seven, i.e. if Marco Rubio will decide he's better off being a hero of the far right by bailing on the immigration reform effort.
“The key is Rubio,” said Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. “Without Rubio, this bill would not get anywhere with Republicans. He gives them the cover.”
So basically, here's what the next week is likely to bring: Republicans will offer a series of amendments that would make immigration reform more punitive, make a path to citizenship longer and more hazardous, and call for sharks with laser beams on the border. Meanwhile, they'll scream that Democratic amendments making it easier for families to be together are poison pills making Democrats responsible for Republican opposition to the bill. Everyone will be sucking up to the Republican maybe votes, while Marco Rubio will be trying to figure out which is more important to his political future, the DeMint crowd or the Beltway media reputation as a conservative who's nonetheless willing to get things done. And maybe occasionally we'll get a reminder that millions of people's futures are at stake here.
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon May 06, 2013 at 08:12 AM PDT.