Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fiscal Crisis Over: So What's Next for Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

October 17, 2013: With the House and Senate finally agreeing on a bipartisan bill to end the budget and debt ceiling crisis, Congress's focus will now hopefully shift to other pressing national priorities. And one of the most important issues Congress will have to tackle is comprehensive immigration reform. Stalled by debates on a Syria intervention, and for the past month, the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis, comprehensive immigration reform has by and large taken a back seat. But that's about to change. Speaking on Univision this past Tuesday, President Obama indicated that Comprehensive Immigration Reform would again become a top priority once the debt ceiling crisis was over. "Once that's (debt ceiling crisis) done, you know, the day after, I'm going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform" the President said to the Spanish language news network.

A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed the Senate in June, due in part to the efforts of the "Gang of Eight" - a bipartisan group of senators including Sens. Marco Rubio, John McCain, Charles Schumer, and Dick Durbin - but has been stalled in the House, due in part to Republican reluctance to so-called "amnesty" or a path to citizenship. Recent world and domestic events have only served to delay any bipartisan negotiations, but it didn't stop President Obama from again pointing the blame to House Speaker John Boehner. "We had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate," the President said, but added "[t]he only thing right now that's holding it back is, again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives." Boehner has, on numerous occasions, indicated that the Senate's bill would not pass the House, and that the House was committed to its own version of comprehensive immigration reform, minus a pathway to citizenship and in a "piecemeal" fashion, something Senate Democrats and the President have said is unacceptable.

Just like the recent debacle in Congress involving the economy, the passage of comprehensive immigration reform (if it passes at all) will endure plenty of back and forth between the House and the Senate, spurred on at times by the White House, with each side blaming the other for any lack of progress. But unlike the debt ceiling crisis, which had almost the entire country, if not the world, united to see Congress increase the debt ceiling and avert a financial meltdown, comprehensive immigration reform does not have that "Armageddon-like" feel to it. And without a significant grassroots push to see its passage, comprehensive immigration reform may succumb, much like the other failed attempts at immigration reform, to public and political indifference. Adding to the uncertainty, there's only a few months left before the Congress has to yet again deal with budget and debt ceiling issues.

Will comprehensive immigration reform ever become a reality? The jury is out on this one and this author simply does not know as of yet. Let's just hope no other crisis flares up and pushes immigration reform back to the end of the line again. Keep checking this weekly blog for updates and insight into comprehensive immigration reform, and another important news concerning US immigration matters. And should you need to speak to an Orange County immigration lawyer, please call 949-440-3240 or visit www.kpimmigrationlaw.com.