Is Immigration Reform in 2014 Likely?

There were high hopes for passage of a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013 but it did not become reality due to the lack of action by the House of Representative and its leader, House Speaker John Boehner.  In 2013, the Senate drafted and passed by a majority vote the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.  However, when it was time for the House of Representative to vote on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, they declined and never introduced the legislation for discussion or vote.

Well, it’s a new year and House Speaker, John Boehner, seems to have changed his tune and view on immigration reform in 2014.  In the first week of the New Year, Mr. Boehner hired Rebecca Tallent, a longtime immigration adviser and advocate for immigration reform.  However, Mr. Boehner’s has been hot and then cold on the issue of immigration reform in just the first two months of the year.

HOPEFUL ON THE ISSUE OF IMMIGRATION REFORM

On January 28, 2014, President Obama at his State of the Union speech urged Congress to “fix our broken immigration system,” saying both political parties stood to gain by helping millions of undocumented immigrants get a legal foothold in America.  “Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades,” he said. “And for good reason: When people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.”

HOT ON THE ISSUE OF IMMIGRATION REFORM

In an attempt to appeal to Latino voters, on January 31, 2014, House Speaker John Boehner with colleagues from the House of Representative (House) released a one-page, Standards for Immigration Reform.  It has six headings: (1) Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First, (2) Implement Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System, (3) Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement, (4)Reforms to the Legal Immigration System, (5)Youth, (6) Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law.

It does not contain a path to legalize the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.  Instead, it has the following language, “there will be a zero tolerance policy for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their visas in the future”, “identify and track down visitors who abuse our laws”, “fully implement a workable electronic employment verification system”, “temporary workers are able to meet the economic needs of the country and do not displace or disadvantage American workers”, “opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own”, “there will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws – that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law.”

COLD ON THE ISSUE OF IMMIGRATION REFORM

On February 7, 2014, House Speaker John Boehner claims, “The American people, including many of my members, don’t trust that the reform that we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be.”

What happened?  One week after releasing their immigration reform principles, the House of Representative and its leader, John Boehner start the blame game and claim immigration reform cannot get done because the Obama administration cannot be trusted to enforce the laws.  This claim is far from reality.  President Obama has taken the toughest position of immigration enforce than any President before him.  There has been a record amount of immigrants (legal and illegal) deported under President Obama’s administration.

Lack of Congressional action has left millions of families living in two parallel universes – some states cut undocumented immigrants off from housing , school, employment and other states give the same immigrants access to driver’s licenses, better wages, and college education for their children.  We need one immigration system that will be embraced by all the states and give undocumented immigrants hope that they will be U.S. citizens in a country they have called “home” for many years!