CIR Blog

The CIR 2013 blog will examine the likelihood of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) in 2013. The analyses on this blog will focus on identifying likely support and opposition for an immigration reform bill for all 535 voting-members of Congress. A model is only as good as its assumptions and the quality of the data. Combining the insights gained from these analyses with “on the ground” developments is, perhaps, the optimal way to make sense of the politics of immigration reform in 2013. We thus invite constructive comments and suggestions, particularly from immigration scholars and those working on immigration reform.

The CIR 2013 Blog in the news can be found here: ABC News/UnivisionSouthern California Public Radio, New York Times, Fronteras Desk, and KPBS.

Please direct comments and inquires to Tom K. Wong by email to and on Twitter @twong002. We will use #cir2013blog to announce updates.

Are There Enough Votes in the Senate to Include LGBT Families in Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

April 18, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
Conclusion: Yes, there is enough support for LGBT inclusion in family reunification in the Senate. Will the inclusion of LGBT families as part of comprehensive immigration reform kill the chances of getting a bill passed in the Senate? This analysis suggests, no. However, the House is the sticking point.
As we comb through the 844-page immigration reform bill released late Tuesday night, one omission has already drawn the attention of several immigrant-rights organizations: the absence of language including LGBT couples in the family-based immigration system.
Under current immigration laws, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor their spouses …

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In Senate Bill, Path to Citizenship May Not Come After Border Triggers

April 17, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
At close to midnight PST Tuesday, the full text of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill was finally released. The full 844-page bill can be found here.
Among the early insights gleaned from the exact language of the bill relates to how the path to citizenship will unfold. While the bill reaffirms that border security triggers are necessary prerequisites for the path to citizenship, it also includes language stating that if making citizenship contingent on border triggers – which leaves immigrants stuck in a “provisional” legal status until these triggers are met – is found to be unconstitutional, …

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Legalization First, then a Path to Citizenship After… Maybe

April 16, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
The 2013 version of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) now has a name: the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. Here is a preliminary summary of what the path to citizenship looks like. The Senate “gang of 8’s” summary outline can be found here and the full text and be found here.
The Senate bill creates a fairly straightforward and direct path to citizenship for DREAMers and for undocumented agricultural workers after border triggers are met. But for the rest of the undocumented population, while the bill creates a path to citizenship, the road there runs …

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Border Security and the Senate “Gang of 8’s” Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

April 16, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
The 2013 version of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) now has a name: the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. Here is a preliminary summary of the border security aspects of the bill (jump to the bottom for main takeaways). The Senate “gang of 8’s” summary outline can be found here. The link between border security and legalization/path to citizenship will be discussed in more detail in my next post.
The Goal of Border Security: 90% Effectiveness Rate
Unsurprisingly, border security plays a prominent role in the Senate “gang of 8’s” bill. Within 6-months of …

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Will Comprehensive Immigration Reform Pass in the House?

April 03, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
Conclusion: The road to CIR is an uphill climb in the House, as just around 200 representatives are likely to vote yes. The data suggest a low of 183 and a high of 203. However, the results also show that 33 representatives who are likely to vote no on CIR are electorally vulnerable based on their November 2012 electoral margin of victory. These representatives are thus likely to be the locus of grassroots efforts to pass CIR.

As the details of the House comprehensive immigration reform bill begin to emerge, it is an opportune time to …

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What Will Comprehensive Immigration Reform Look Like in 2013?

March 17, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
As the comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) debate proceeds in Congress, much of how the final bill will look – as well as what is likely to give rise to some of the most impassioned debates – will be determined by the amendments that are ultimately introduced and voted on. The history of U.S. immigration policy makes clear that such amendments will not simply change an immigration bill at the margins. After all, it was an amendment to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act that made Chinese persons ineligible for U.S. citizenship. A look at the amendments …

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Are Border Enforcement Triggers Necessary?

March 08, 2013

By Wayne A. Cornelius,

Damien Cave’s recent report on border security illustrates the futility of further investments in the kind of border enforcement that some members of Congress find necessary as a trigger for comprehensive immigration reform.
The key statistic for measuring the efficacy of border enforcement is the “eventual success rate.” That is, on a given trip to the border, what percentage of unauthorized migrants, even if apprehended initially, can get through if they just keep trying?
Each year since 2005 my research team at the University of California, San Diego has interviewed hundreds of undetected migrants and potential migrants in their …

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Will Comprehensive Immigration Reform Pass in the Senate?

March 01, 2013

By Tom K. Wong,, @twong002
Conclusion: 60 filibuster-proof votes for CIR in the Senate are within reach.

Will Comprehensive Immigration Reform Pass in the Senate? 60 Filibuster-Proof Votes Within Reach | Infographics

Will comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) pass in 2013? In a recent whirlwind of events since President Obama’s reelection, the Senate “gang of 8” introduced its draft principles on immigration reform, the President then addressed the nation describing his own vision of reform just one day after the gang of 8 unveiled their blueprint, the White House promptly released more details of the president’s proposal immediately after his speech, the House …

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