Next Up On The Agenda: Immigration Reform
President Barack Obama called immigration reform his top priority after the fiscal crisis that caused the government shutdown was resolved. The President had already declared reforming the country's immigration laws to give legal status and a path to citizenship to 11 million undocumented aliens as being on top of his to do list in his second term. Instead, he has had to deal with issues such as the IRS scandals, the national surveillance program revelations and the crisis in Syria.
Where immigration reform stands now
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the summer. That bill included the path to citizenship and provisions for increased border controls. The House of Representatives have proposed several of their own immigration related bills, tackling immigration reform issue by issue. The House has refused to vote on the Senate bill that House Speaker John Boehner promises would not pass because many House Republicans oppose the path to citizenship, which they see as rewarding criminal activity. The President appears ready to try and force a vote. Some predict that should Congress not act, the President may take unilateral action in the form of an executive order as he did with the deferred action for minors program before the last election. That initiative gave certain illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children a method of temporarily avoiding deportation and working legally in the country.
The future of immigration reform
There is no way to predict whether immigration reform will pass and, if it does, what provisions would be included. Congress debated the following issues that may have a tremendous impact on the country's immigration system, if implemented:
- A path to legal status and eventual citizenship for many illegal aliens already living in the United States
- Increased border control and enforcement, particularly at the border with Mexico
- Elimination of the H-1B visa cap, allowing more foreign highly skilled professionals to get hired by U.S companies
The Oregon-based immigration attorneys of Kell, Alterman & Runstein, L.L.P. make it our business to follow all the developments in the immigration laws and procedures, so our clients are always ready to take advantage of the best opportunities offered to them.