immigrants-march-for-immigration-reform

Immigrants March For Immigration Reform (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The week before had ended innocently enough.

Both sides of the immigration debate looked ahead.

A long eight months of battle, following the November 2012 election, seemed to drawing to a close.

The House of Representatives would meet to decide how they planned to proceed on reform.

The fate of a broken immigration system hung in the balance.

OBAMA’S ROLE IN IMMIGRATION REFORM

On Sunday, inklings emerged that surprise was in the air.

NBC’s Chuck Todd, a news panelist for “Meet The Press,” said “the White House doesn’t see a path” to passing an immigration bill by the end of this year.

The White House Doesn’t See A Path To Passing Immigration; Paul Ryan’s Gone Silent
July 7, 2013 · The Weekly Standard · Daniel Halper

The White House, noted Todd, had been so confident they were going to sign immigration reform this year, for the first time I’m hearing that there is some doubt seeping in, that they think maybe the House won’t act.

A local Inland Empire newspaper, borrowing from the Los Angles Daily News, took a different approach to Obama’s disappearance on immigration reform.

Immigration Bill Works For Right And Left
July 6, 2013 · The San Bernardino Sun

Obama himself has smartly stayed out of the development and promotion of the bill, in part because his involvement could turn off many Republicans. Nobody on either side of the aisle in Congress is calling this reform package, say, Obamigration.

As an immigration lawyer in San Bernardino, I felt compelled to respond.

First, and most importantly, the Senate immigration reform does not work for many in the political left.

Second, the use of terminology such as “Obamimgration” does a disservice to all who are working hard to put together a workable immigration solution.

My response, entitled a Neanderthal View Of Immigration Reform, noted that Obama should be playing a more assertive role in shaping immigration reform. In addition, I stressed that even if he only participated minimally, those opposed to immigration reform would criticize the president’s role.

Nonetheless, the question remains why has the president played such a low key role in shaping immigration policy. Based on his record, I’m not convinced it’s entirely political strategy.

IMMIGRATION REFORM AND BORDER SECURITY

As the House’s big day approached, a new survey from GOP pollster John McLaughlin attempted to influence the public view on immigration reform’s proper direction.

According to McLaughlin, a large majority of Hispanic voters think legal status should only be granted to immigrants after the government has restrained the flow of illegals into the country.

Majority Of Hispanics Favor ‘Enforcement First’ Immigration Reform
July 9, 2013 · The Blaze · Meredith Jessup

By a margin of 60 percent to 34 percent, registered Hispanic voters said they supported granting legal status to illegal immigrants “only when the 90% goal is reached.” Hispanic adults backed the proposal by a nearly identical margin — 60 percent to 32 percent.

I find McLaughlin’s results hard to believe. Without knowing more about the parameters of his study, I doubt his polling sample reflected an accurate cross-section of conservative and liberal registered Hispanic voters or Hispanic adults.

On the other hand, if valid, his poll reflects the public’s lack of clarity on immigration issues – an outgrowth of an immigration reform movement without a national leader.

HOUSE PUTS HOLD ON IMMIGRATION REFORM LEGISLATION

On the whole, most immigration reform supporters thought such views lacked substance. In their view, the Sunday commentaries and the GOP poll were were merely political theatre.

Yet, ironically, on the same day that former President George W. Bush implored his fellow Republicans to carry a “benevolent spirit” into the immigration debate, the House GOP stalled on immigration reform.

Their dissent primarily centered on what measures to take regarding undocumented immigrants already living illegally in the United States.

House GOP Won’t Rush Immigration Overhaul
July 10, 2013 · ABC News · John Parkinson

House Republicans delivered a sharp reality check to the prospect of overhauling the nation’s immigration system, with lawmakers declaring Wednesday evening that the House not only rejects the Senate’s comprehensive plan passed two weeks ago, but that they will also take a slower, step-by-step approach to tackling the problem.

Explaining the sentiment of many Republicans who believe the party cannot afford to disregard the nation’s troubled immigration system, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted pointed out the complexity of devising a solution for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“People that we all agree should remain here. People that we all agree should be removed – criminal aliens, people who have committed crimes, and so on. And then people who may be in between, who may not have the skills to be well-employed here, or whose skills may be suited toward temporary or guest worker programs.”

Shortly after the shock wore off, immigrant advocates began to ask themselves what steps to take next.

There is no shortage of opinion. Most of it has to be taken with a grain of salt.

The Washington Post, however, broke the next steps of House into its basic components.

The 3 Paths Forward For House Republicans On Immigration
July 11, 2013 · Washington Post · Ed O’Keefe and Sean Sullivan

So, where does immigration reform go from here? Is immigration reform dead? Will it live on in some form? And, if so, how? Here’s a quick summary of potential scenarios:

  1. The House passes multiple bills, including legislation addressing how undocumented immigrants can eventually earn green cards or U.S. citizenship.
  2. The House passes multiple bills, but doesn’t address what to do with undocumented immigrants.
  3. The House tries, but ultimately can’t pass anything.

For several months, I have asserted that immigration reform advocates lack a clear voice, a national leader who commands the attention of Congress and the White House.

This void, in part, is responsible for the current political impasse on immigration reform issues.

But given where the House was likely to head, as I noted in For Whom The Bell Tolls: The Future Of Immigration Reform, it’s a better proposition for immigrants to to start over.

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