Immigration Reform: From the Senate to the House

In early June, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) set a goal: to have the full Senate debate and vote upon a comprehensive immigration measure before the end of the month. And indeed, they did just that. After two weeks of discussions, compromises, proposals adopted and withdrawn, the Senate approved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act by a vote of 68-32.

Following this vote, Duke University President Richard Brodhead sent a letter to North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan thanking her for her support of the bill. In the letter, President Brodhead said the current bill would mean that “pursuing an education or research at Duke will be less complicated for the thousands of students and faculty who come to Durham each year from countries all over the world.”

These thousands – 1,685 employees and 3,004 students according to Duke’s visa services statistics – “are Duke students. They are no different than a student in China, or India or South Africa or North Carolina or California in a sense that we want what is best for them,” said Chris Simmons, Duke’s associate vice president for federal relations, in an interview with “And if they think it is best for them to stay in the United States and work and contribute to our economy, we want to help them do that.”

“We want to make sure that they have opportunities and options,” Simmons said. “We want that for all students and if there’s something we can do to influence the law so that’s possible for more of our students, then we are going to be supportive.”

On Wednesday, Republicans in the House of Representatives will meet to discuss their priorities for immigration reform. With the feedback gained there, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will develop a plan for bringing forth immigration reform measures to the floor of the House. The Office of Federal Relations will remain an active participant in the discussion.