Republican House and Immigration Reform…What are the Priorities ?

In yet another rare flash of inspired thinking, John Boehner has charged Robert Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to find a workable solution to the immigration morass, affecting an estimated 11 million foreign nationals, in the US.

Mr. Goodlatte would appear entirely unsuitable for the task in hand. Not only is he the only too narrowly focused on border security, but his comments suggest that most undocumented residents already qualify for legal residency,  under existing immigration  law, which is NOT the case. He has also said, repeatedly, that he is opposed to legislation granting a “special” pathway to citizenship.  Mr. Goodlatte declined to “reward” those who had entered the US illegally with citizenship and that no pathway was needed.

In stark contrast to the Senate, which offered broad sweeping changes that address much of what is wrong with current immigration law, Mr. Goodlatte has proposed a piecemeal approach. Although he has expressed an unwillingness to define exactly what he is proposing, his committee has already approved four bills. These include one for highly-skilled workers, a second for agricultural workers, a third aimed at strengthening immigration laws and the ability for local and state governments to enforce them and a fourth that requires employers to use the e-verification system to obtain workers’ legal status.

Critics of this approach include some of the ‘Gang of Eight’ who drafted the Senate proposals. They maintain that new legislation that does not address the issue of citizenship and argue that it will, essentially, create a new underclass, with fewer and lesser rights, than other US citizens.  

The Senators have said that a House bill, that does not include a “pathway to Citizenship,” will likely not pass the Senate.

To his credit, Mr. Goodlatte, in an interview with NPR, has said that he wants to address the issue of those, “who are not lawfully in the United States “  and that he sympathized with young undocumented immigrants who wanted to gain legal status. However, he reiterated that he would not move forward before other border security and enforcement mechanisms were in place.

Deportation – Getting Tough

President Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place. At the same time he is trying to appease his Republican critics, by getting tough on border security, he also faces mounting criticism for the sheer, volume of deportations, that have occurred on his watch.

More deportations have occurred while Obama has been in office, than under any other president.  According to Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) 98 percent of those deported, satisfied one or more of the following criteria: serious immigration offenders, recent border migrants, convicted criminals or national security risks.  Of the 368,644 foreigners, deported during the 2013 fiscal year, two thirds were caught at the border, while attempting to enter the country illegally. Of the remaining third, who were arrested in country, 82 percent had been convicted of a serious crime.

Whatever the numbers, the rolling pace of deportations, have alarmed the Hispanic community. While both Democrats and Republicans have both pledged to implement some form of Immigration Reform ,  as yet, (other than DACA) little has been forthcoming.

While many Republicans are refusing to pass any immigration legislation and especially that which offers a path to citizenship, they would be wise to note that of those here illegally, most do not even want it. An overwhelming majority of Hispanics, recently surveyed, said that deportation relief and all the lawful benefits of legal residence (that a “Greencard” now confers) were by far, the more important issues.

Given all the commotion, some may ask if this is just another instance of the Republicans being disingenuous and looking for excuses to hold up legislation, or are they simply just not listening?…

Immigration Modernization Act: Who is Doing the Math?

The Congressional Budget (CBO) has issued a report which details the economic benefits of the bi-partisan, Border Security, Economic Development and immigration Modernization Act.

The report  estimates that the bill will be a major economic boon to the US, creating jobs, generating both state and federal income tax revenue, while effecting a decrease  in the federal budget deficit between 2014 and 2023 by approximately $800 over the next two decades; not an insignificant number.  It is estimated that the bill would also create 2 million new jobs, (approximately 14,000 in each congressional district) boost the U.S. GDP by $1.4 trillion and increase the total income for all Americans by $791 billion.

more…

Republicans Speak Out AGAINST Immigration Reform

A landslide vote in the Senate, 84-15, has cleared the path for debate on comprehensive immigration reform.  No surprise but all those who voted against the bill were Republicans.

Some lawmakers, who support the bill, have argued that the failure of Republican support for the bill, would sound the death knell for the Republican Party, itself. Perhaps thinking ahead to the next presidential election in 2016, and a perceived self-interest in their own job security, some Republicans have expressed that support for immigration reform, is vital to garner the Hispanic vote and remain relevant.  Yet, it is feared that in order to attract the wavering support of Republicans, Democrats, who support the bill, will agree to drastic measures that will dilute its overall tenor. more…

Republicans And Immigration Reform

As the new immigration reform bill is being debated this week in the Senate, the House is preparing its own version of the bill.  In contrast to one distinct path to obtain legal status, which the Senate has proposed, the House bill would offer three distinct paths.

The first would offer legal status to young, undocumented immigrants, commonly referred to as DREAMers. The rationale is that their arrival in the US was through no fault of their own doing; that DREAMers were often brought here by their parents.  Hence, they should not be penalized. Also falling into this category would be agricultural workers, who like DREAMers would be fast-tracked in order to obtain legal status. This concession, granted to agricultural workers, comes as no surprise given the vital importance of their contribution, to the US economy. more…

DREAMers to Benefit from Immigration Reform

DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as young children, stand to gain the most benefit under new proposals for immigration reform.

The bill, currently making its passage through the Senate, provides DREAMers with the best opportunities yet.

Although the bill advocates a waiting period of 13 years before obtaining citizenship, DREAMers would be required to wait only 5 years.

To be eligible, DREAMers:

  • Must be present in the US since December 31, 2011.
  • Must be residing in the US prior to their sixteenth birthday.
  • Have graduated high school or obtained their GED. more…

CIR 2014: Potential New Categories of Visas

While it is worth noting that the immigration reform bill currently under discussion in the Senate, will eliminate some visas, it proposes the creation of others regarded as more beneficial to the immigrant community.

Under the new bill, sibling visas and diversity visas (more commonly known as the visa lottery) would be scrapped. However, in response to both the promotion of economic growth and labor needs, at both the high and low ends of the labor market, the bill would create several new classes of visas.  The latter concession, is crafted to attract the support of both Republican and Democrats, as the bill makes it’s passage through the Senate and later the House. more…

Immigration Reform – How it Might Benefit You

With the house set to vote on immigration overhaul this week, the estimated 11 million immigrants who are currently without status hope that some form of consensus will be reached.

The proposed bill, ‘The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013’ advocates a pathway to citizenship, while granting interim temporary status or Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI). RPI status would allow undocumented immigrants to work legally in the US, permit travel oversees and be renewable every six years. Those granted RPI status would be able to apply for permanent residency after 10 years and citizenship, 3 years after that.

In order to be eligible to adjust to RPI, applicants must satisfy the following criteria: more…

H1-B Applications – USCIS Visa Lottery Expected for 2013

As of April 1st 2013, United States Customs and Immigration (USCIS) will begin to accept  H1-B applications valid for the 2013 Fiscal Year that begins on October 1st. Despite calls to increase the number of visas available, especially for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates from US universities, there remain only 65, 000 available. There are an additional 20, 000 visas available for graduates who have earned a Masters degree or higher from a US institution.

Although applications will be accepted on April 1st, it is anticipated that demand will exceed the 65,000 available and the quota be filled by April 5th. This will result in a visa lottery; something that has not occurred since 2008. USCIS has announced that it will inform the public when the quota has been reached.  It has also modified the date for those who have elected for premium processing, until April 15th. more…

Military Reopens Program Aimed at Immigrants

Responding to a petition on Facebook, begging to join the military, the Pentagon has reopened a program that allows legal immigrants, with specific language or medical skills, to enlist.

The program was in place for a little over a year in 2009, but was suspended in January 2010, after a shooting incident at Fort Hood, Tex. The program filled quickly which inspired eager applicants to turn to Facebook, urging the army to reinitiate it.

The program, known as Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI, allows legal immigrants in the US on temporary visas to enlist in the Army for a period of two or more years. more…