Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What's Next for Immigration Reform in 2014?

January 14, 2014: Comprehensive Immigration Reform never really materialized in 2013. After the Senate passed its version of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, optimism abounded that finally something would be done to overhaul the nation's flawed immigration system. But then a potential military strike on Syria happened. Then the Obamacare website had numerous rollout issues. Then Thanksgiving, Congress's winter recess, and here we are in 2014, immigration reform stalled and at a standstill.

The President hinted that the Democrats would now be willing to pass immigration reform in steps late in 2013, but rather than then get the discussion started again by offering a rather large concession to House Republicans, numerous other political issues took center stage. And we now find ourselves in 2014, an election year, does this mean the end (at least short-term) for immigration reform?

Well that depends on who you ask. For example, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) both want to reform immigration laws, but in a gradual, step-by-step process (contrary to the Democrat's vision of comprehensive reform, a very unlikely scenario now). They have forwarded, rather quietly, several pieces of immigration reform legislation to committees. But fierce opposition to any immigration reform, be it piecemeal or comprehensive, is firmly entrenched within the GOP's own ranks. In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, influential Republican Congressman Steve King (R-IA) made clear his stance on immigration reform by stating "[i]t would be a colossal mistake for us to take up anything that would end up just changing the subject and getting it off Obamacare and on to something that splits the Republican Party." Indeed, as has been mentioned before, House Republicans from "safe districts" (i.e. no viable threat from Democrats and/or immigration reform supporters) have made it all too clear they will not pass a bill that gives undocumented immigrants, as they put it, "amnesty" (i.e. "path to Citizenship).

The road ahead for immigration reform is far from certain. Opposing ideologies, Obamacare, and most importantly, an election in November, all point to the fact that very little will be done regarding immigration reform this year. What is a possibility is that Congress will pass a bill making it easier foreign-born science and technology grads to move to, or remain, in the US. One other likely scenario is that Congress will pass a bill to strengthen the Southern border with Mexico. But, as for the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants in the United States, their futures are still up in the air and any path to legal status in the US (at least with respect to 2014) remains very unlikely.

If you or a loved one has an immigration matter that needs expert attention, please call 949-440-3240 or visit our website by clicking on this link: Orange County Immigration Lawyer. Happy New Year to all my loyal readers, I hope to have some good news regarding immigration reform very soon.