Immigration Reform in 2007?
By: Attorney Farhad Sethna, Copyright 2007, all rights reserved
In November 2006, the voters of the United States handed control of Congress-the House of Representatives and the Senate- to the Democrats. President Bush is generally pro immigration. However, during his previous six years in office, he was not able to put his immigration wishes into law. First of all, we had the tragic occurrence of 9/11. Thereafter, Mr. Bush was busy with the “war on terror” which effectively closed America’s borders. Sadly, this “war on terror” also closed off America’s mind to immigration and immigration reform in particular.
At the present time, Mr. Bush has once again presented his immigration plan in the most recent State of the Union address, which was on January 18, 2007. However, immigration has now become a rather difficult issue to deal with, with a majority of the American public believing that illegal immigration must be stopped and must be fixed.
It is extremely hard to stop and fix illegal immigration, and therefore it is equally hard to get started on meaningful immigration reform. The anti immigration group is calling any immigration reform by the negative word “amnesty”. By using this word, the anti immigration lobby causes the American public to believe that any immigration reform is simply another benefit given to people who are already breaking the law in the first place. Since the ideal of the “rule of law” is so central to American life, the average American looks at an alien who is here without documentation as being a criminal and therefore undeserving of any kind of relief, including the relief proposed by President Bush and a few Senate leaders last year.
In the event that immigration reform does pass, what can we expect to see?
I believe that at the most, this year we will see some small steps taking toward immigration reform- for example, there may be the enactment of a temporary guest worker program. This might reduce some of the pressure especially on employers of H-2a and H-2b workers.
There may also be some legislation which allows for the children of undocumented aliens who have lived in the USA most of their lives to apply for and be granted either permanent residency or some form of temporary resident permit to allow them to live in the USA and apply for and complete their college education. However, given the anti immigrant nature of the American voter today, I believe the second scenario is possible but unlikely.
A third possible scenario is for a Presidential candidate, perhaps New Mexico Bill Richardson, who is Hispanic, to make immigration a key part of his platform and thereby energize the immigrant population and simultaneously educate the voting population- American citizens-that immigration reform is not bad for America.
In conclusion, I believe that any substantial immigration reform is probably not going to be considered this year and perhaps will not even be considered next year in the heat of the Presidential campaign. I do not believe that any of the current Presidential candidates are going to come out embracing the idea of immigration reform. They risk alienating too many voters in the hopes of appealing to individuals who do not form a substantial voting block (ie, Hispanics and other recent immigrants), and of appealing to individuals who not only cannot vote, but in addition are undocumented.
Please note that this is only my opinion as of the present date, given the facts and circumstances that we know at present. Any of this could change in the future in an unpredictable way. Therefore, my advise is for any affected person to make a through and detailed inquiry about any immigration issue that they hear about and verify all the facts before filing any application or applying for any benefit with the US government. Of course, this is also a very general article and should therefore not be taken as actual advice about your exact legal situation. Always consult a professional in order to get the latest facts and latest information before you proceed. I plan to keep you aware of any changes in future columns, in this website or on my Spanish language Website, www.abogadodeinmigracionohio.com .