The immigration reform debate in American politics has had some time out of the spotlight recently. The annual congressional summer break quieted the conversation, and then the dominant political story was the budget argument and subsequent government shutdown that revolved, in large part, around the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”). With the exception of a protest that resulted in the arrests of numerous members of Congress for civil disobedience (blocking traffic), immigration reform was not in the center of attention in the U.S. Capitol.
However, almost immediately after the budget crisis was resolved, immigration reform surfaced again. Unfortunately for those hoping for positive action on this issue, the way it came up was disconcerting: many media articles and opinion pieces quickly appeared predicting that immigration reform is dead because the Republicans are bitter from their loss to Obama in the budget battle and therefore will not be willing to compromise or work with the President on his next highest priority.
Without getting into an exhaustive analysis, it certainly feels like the current political climate is toxic, as the rivalry between America’s two major political parties has led Republicans in particular to employ strategies of obstruction and destruction with a primary regard for their own prospects of power instead of genuine concern for what is best for the majority of the residents. The example of their efforts to repeal or defund Obamacare in the face of overwhelming losses in congressional, judicial and popular votes and points in approval polling proves a singular focus on spite versus policy. There is no reason to doubt them when they say they will fight immigration reform with a similar verve and vigor.
Who will win? The president has identified immigration reform as his current top priority, and so he can be expected to marshal all the considerable resources a president can to gain support for the essence of the reform he wants most: a reasonable path to amnesty for a significant number of the approximately 12 million people currently living illegally in the United States. Republicans have repeatedly said they would be willing to revise some aspects of the current immigration law, most notably H-1B visas for highly-skilled workers, but they insist on preventing amnesty for illegals and massive increases in border defenses first.
There is a huge possibility for negotiation in the positions taken by each side. Sadly for those of us who enjoy reasonable discourse, the Republicans are, as usual, starting from an egregiously vituperative position: give in completely on what you want, and in exchange we will allow you to give us what we want. But the articles predicting gloom and doom are just a part of the Republicans’ increasingly savvy media-based approach. Their attempted intimidation is just a tool to try for power. The Immigration reform is not dead. It is far too early in the negotiating process to be able to predict what the final product will look like, but don’t believe for a minute that it’s impossible.
All said and explained in this article does not constitute a legal opinion and does not replace legal advice. Responsibility for using the wordings and opinions conveyed in this article relies solely and entirely on the reader.
This article was written by Dotan Cohen Law Offices, working in the field of immigration law in the United States, Canada, Australia and England.