Senate leaders finally have reached a compromise that will allow them to move forward on immigration reform. Debate will start this week with the goal of passing a bill by Memorial Day weekend.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn, and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced the agreement late last week. The compromise bill builds on the original bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year.           

The stalemate was only broken after Frist and Reid reached an agreement on who would represent the Senate in the joint House-Senate conference committee that will be charged with reconciling differences in the House and Senate bills. Under the agreement, a total of 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats (12 of which will come from the Senate Judiciary Committee) will negotiate with House members to try and develop a plan acceptable to both chambers.

The bill passed by the House focuses on enforcement and would make an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. subject to felony charges and deportation. The bill that will be debated in the Senate contains provisions to allow illegal immigrants a path to become U.S. citizens as well as a guest-worker program.

To contact your Senator about the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (S. 2611) go to www.senate.gov. Then, use the menu at the top right to select your state and click “go”. This will bring up a list of senators for the state as well as an e-mail form to send comments.

Associated Press, The Washington Times