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Why a rare bipartisan consensus on immigration totally fell apart

Published: Sep 24, 2012 2:00 pm By: Suzy Khimm - WaPo

"The short answer: House Republicans decided to attach the STEM visa expansion to the elimination of another long-standing visa program — a condition that House Democrats soundly rejected.

The longer story is that, before the August recess, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other legislators had been engaged in seemingly promising bipartisan talks to bring forward an immigration overhaul that included the STEM visa proposal. “We had barely gotten back a consensus on immigration — that some increase on immigration is good,” says Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s Office at New York University, who describes the talks as the first genuinely bipartisan immigration effort that went beyond border security since 2006.

When Congress came back from recess, however, the bipartisan talks disintegrated because legislators couldn’t come up with a compromise on family reunification, a Schumer aide told the National Journal. So both Smith and Schumer came up with separate partisan bills."

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