It's a small bill, but hopefully it is a sign of things to come. The House yesterday voted 407-17 in favor of HR 1933, a bill reviving the H-1C nurse visa, a visa category that sunset in 2009. The bill was sponsored by Lamar Smith, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. H-1C visas are available to up to 300 nurses per year being sponsored to work in shortage areas designated by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The number of nurses being admitted was slashed from 500, but nurses would now be able to stay for up to six years (two three year terms).The bill now moves on to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Interestingly, all of the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus voted for the bill. Actually, two of the bill's co-sponsors were Ruben Hinojosa and Henry Cuellar, CHC members from Texas. That's important because previously they had sought to block pro-immigration measures that were being moved separately from a comprehensive immigration reform bill. I've mentioned several times on this blog that while I understand the thinking behind such a strategy, it's a foolish one. Comprehensive immigration reform is a great idea, but unless the Senate does away with the filibuster or there is a major change in the politics of immigration, there is virtually no chance of our getting a comprehensive bill in the near or intermediate term. Piecemeal immigration reform, however, is a viable strategy. Work on easier to pass measures first, continue educating Congress and the public on the need for reform and work to elect pro-immigration members of Congress to tackle the tougher issues in the future.