If immigration reform eventually passes—and it looks like it has a good chance to do just that—last week will forever be seen as the week when the tide finally and officially turned. There is, for the first time in almost a decade, bipartisan support for reform.
While Democrats look at immigration reform as primarily an economic and human rights issue, Republicans, according to Sen. McCain, were ultimately brought to the table as a result of the crushing electoral defeat they suffered in November. As is well known by now, Republicans have a huge demographic problem. Years of demonizing immigrants came back to haunt them in 2012 as it did in 2008 when Latinos overwhelmingly turned out in favor of President Obama. The President is now fulfilling his campaign promise and repaying their trust with his full-throated push for reform. Whatever reasons each side cites as its impetus, the simple fact is both sides are now pushing for immigration reform. It reamins to be seen what reform will eventually look like, but last week’s developments can only be seen as a step in the right direction for reform advocates.
Last Monday, a bipartisan group of eight Senators comprised of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL; Sen. John McCain, R-AZ; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,; Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ; Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Sen. Michael Bennet, D-CO and; Sen. Richard Durbin, D-IL laid out a plan that couples immigration reform with enhanced security efforts aimed at preventing illegal immigration and ensuring that those foreigners here temporarily return home when their visas expire. Their plan includes:
- Path to citizenship coupled with border security.
- Reform of the legal immigration system.
- Reform of the employment verification system.
- Improved process for admitting future workers.
On Tuesday, in front of a friendly crowd in Las Vegas, the President laid out his plan for immigration reform to chants of, “Si se puede!” In his plan, President Obama called for common sense and comprehensive immigration reform emphasizing:
- Continued focus on enforcement.
- Dealing with the 11 million undocumented in the country.
- Bring the legal immigration system into the 21st Century.
The President also cited his renewed support for the Dream Act as part of his call for action on reform.
The recent developments have, undoubtedly, given tremendous hope to the estimated 11 million undocumented people currently living and working in the United States and those who are potentially planning to come to study, live, and work in the United States. Not only is President Obama fulfilling his election promise to tackle the issue, but there seems to be significant and meaningful bipartisan support—at least in the Senate. It remains to be seen how the more conservative and intransigent House Republicans will respond to the proposals. Initial resistance is likely, but as they did on the Fiscal Cliff deal and the Debt Ceiling, it’s likely enough House Republicans will join with House Democrats to pass reform. We’re not predicting an easy journey, but we do think reform will eventually pass. As President Obama said, “Now’s the time.”
Although the news in Washington is coming thick and fast, especially the battles over the President’s Cabinet nominations, we will be sure to follow immigration reform developments closely and update our blog regularly as the situation develops. Right now the proposals are in the early stages and lack defined proposals. As legislation develops, we will convey what that information means to you.
At MPS, we know navigating the immigration process is difficult. And right now, it is especially confusing given all of the uncertainty. Contact us and we can help you along your journey.