The Brief: Top Texas News for April 12, 2013

An immigration reform rally at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 22, 2013.
An immigration reform rally at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 22, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The sweeping immigration reform bill heading to the floor of the U.S. Senate could end up blocking hundreds of thousands of immigrants from citizenship.

On Thursday, a bipartisan group of eight senators appeared ready to unveil the details of its long-anticipated legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. An announcement from the group, which has been informally led by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is expected Tuesday.

As Politico reports, Rubio's chief of staff revealed on Thursday that the bill, as expected, would include a pathway to citizenship under which immigrants would be required to pass background checks and pay fines. 

The Associated Press reports, however, that the legislation would not offer a pathway to legal status or citizenship for immigrants who arrived in the U.S. after Dec. 31, 2011. The cutoff date could affect hundreds of thousands of immigrants and would deal a blow to immigration groups and activists who anticipated that the cutoff would fall on the date of the bill's enactment, according to the AP.

What the provision means for the bill's reception on the Senate floor remains unclear, though it appears to have received the support of both Republicans and Democrats in the bipartisan group.

"All issues that rise to the member level have been dealt with," U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, one of the four Democrats in the group, said in a statement on Thursday. "All that’s left is the drafting."

In Texas, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has repeatedly expressed "deep concerns" over a pathway to citizenship, particularly in relation to the fair treatment of legal immigrants who have waited in line.

As he told Fox News host Sean Hannity two weeks ago: "I think the reason that President Obama is insisting on a path to citizenship is that it is designed to be a poison pill to scuttle the whole bill, so he can have a political issue in 2014 and 2016. I think that's really unfortunate."

Culled

•    Railroad Commission Chairman, Joining Gun Debate, Retweets Noose Image (The Texas Tribune): "Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman weighed in on the gun-control developments in Washington on Thursday, retweeting an image that showed a noose beside the names of Republican U.S. senators who had voted down a filibuster."

•    Texas House panel approves guns on campus bill (The Associated Press): "Two days after a knife-wielding attacker wounded more than a dozen people on a Texas college campus, a state House panel voted to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry weapons into college buildings and classrooms. The House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee pushed the bill up to the full House with a 7-1 vote without debate."

•    Plan to Expand Charter Schools Clears Senate (The Texas Tribune): "A significantly altered version of Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick's legislation expanding the state's charter school system quickly passed out of the upper chamber Thursday afternoon. Patrick, R-Houston, said Senate Bill 2 accomplished what should be the goal of lawmakers — lifting everyone through quality education."

•    Ted Cruz’s filibuster effort fails to kill gun control bill in Senate (The Dallas Morning News): "Parents of Newtown, Conn., victims wept as the Senate agreed Thursday to take up the most sweeping gun control legislation in a generation. But opponents, including Texas’ two senators, won’t give up after one skirmish, no matter its symbolic importance. Sen. Ted Cruz — one of three ringleaders behind the day’s failed filibuster — said he and other Second Amendment defenders may try again later. They hope to delay or derail expanded background checks for gun buyers and related proposals."

Quote of the Day: "I hate to sound trite, but seeing is believing and actions speak louder than words." — State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, after the University of Texas System regents voted on Thursday to turn over documents to lawmakers

Must-Read

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