Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform Dead?

I've been blogging close to a year about comprehensive immigration reform, and while there's been ups and downs for immigration reform, I haven't seen it this close to dead since the discussion began in earnest (right after the Republicans took a thumping in the November 2012 Presidential election). So, is immigration reform really dead? The answer to that depends upon who you ask. Immigration reform activists continue to remain hopeful that Republicans in the House of Representatives will get their act together and show the Hispanic electorate that they are in tune with the problems and issues facing the growing Hispanic population. However, this is wishful thinking at this point.

In June, right after the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" reached a consensus on immigration reform, which allowed for passage in the Senate, I remained cautiously optimistic that we would have a comprehensive immigration reform bill on the President's desk by about Thanksgiving. Back then, the major hurdle to overcome was House Republican opposition to perceived amnesty (i.e. a "Path to Citizenship" for the 11 million undocumented immigrants). With conference committee talks, backdoor negotiations, and President Obama using his bully pulpit if and when needed, I thought that in due time, both sides would eventually come together with some type of agreement.

That was then, this is now. Enter the Syria chemical weapons showdown, government shutdown, and most recently, the debt ceiling crisis - all-in-all taking up about 2-3 months of congressional time, replete with the typical bickering, blame game, and finger-pointing - and we end up back where we were in June, with little progress in the House. We've scarcely heard from the media about immigration reform with those three issues dominating the news cycle. Now that those crises are over, there appears to be little momentum from the House Republicans regarding comprehensive immigration reform. It doesn't look better moving forward either.  Don't forget the Holiday season is upon us, the "Obamacare" website has glitches, Congress will take another monthlong vacation, and the government shutdown/debt ceiling crises will again be front and center in 2014 when the Senate and House reconvene after Winter recess. Doesn't leave much time to pass a landmark immigration overhaul bill does it?

And not to add fuel to the fire, but Washington politicians primarily care about themselves, their lobbyists, and their powerful jobs. It's not going to help that we're about to enter another election cycle in 2014, which will be dominated by debates about spending cuts, entitlement programs, the debt ceiling, budget, and of course, Obamacare. Politicians will have little stomach, especially House Republicans in competitive districts, to engage in talks about such a hot-button issue as immigration reform. Oh, and then there's the Tea Party.

What does this all mean? It appears likely that a true comprehensive immigration reform bill is as good as dead for now. Whether the Congress can pass certain measures - such as heightened border security, enforced E-Verify compliance, and perhaps some form of probationary status for the undocumented immigrants - remains to be seen. Democrats have by and large indicated they will not pass piecemeal immigration reform measures, but after these last battles, may be willing to compromise a little.  But don't hold your breath waiting for comprehensive immigration reform anytime soon. Existing US immigration laws remain in force, many of which are quite harsh for those convicted of a whole host of crimes. If you or a loved one is facing deportation, don't think immigration reform will help you. You need aggressive representation now, contact an Orange County Deportation Lawyer now or call 949-440-3240. Thanks to all my loyal readers out there and feel free to leave comments (note: comment spam will be deleted).