Immigration reform has become a divisive and polarizing issue. There are few things that proponents and opponents of recent immigration reform efforts agree about. They do seem to agree that if immigration reform is going to happen, it needs to happen in the House of Representatives, and soon. With a mid-term election year on the horizon if the House does not vote on the comprehensive reform bill passed last summer by the Senate or pass its own bill, it is difficult to expect any major reform to be passed in the near future.
Both Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigrant rights group called America's Voice, and Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group advocating reducing immigration, have been quoted recently to this effect, although from opposite ends of the spectrum.
A review of the past year in immigration reform
In the event that there are no major immigration reforms passed into law this year, it will be an abrupt end to what has been the most active and promising year in a long time for those waiting for significant change in the country’s immigration laws. A brief review of the past year:
- Immigration reform was a prime and many believe decisive issue in the presidential campaign this past November. President Obama set the tone shortly before the election, when he issued an executive order granting temporary relief from deportation and an opportunity for work permits to certain undocumented immigrants who first came to the U.S. when they were children.
- In the wake of the Republican’s loss in the presidential election, which was blamed on Governor Romney’s opposition to granting a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants, some Republican Senators joined the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan effort at drafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
- In late June, the Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill. The key provisions included the path to citizenship for the approximate 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, while at the same time strengthening border control and adding more Border Patrol agents.
- The House of Representatives has not yet voted on the Senate’s bill, but has instead dealt with the immigration reform issue with different bills proposed by various House committees. The House had its own bipartisan group of representatives focusing on immigration called the “Gang of Seven,” but at this point they have for the most part disbanded.
There are major business and special interest groups applying heavy lobbying on both sides of the immigration issue, and there is still heavy talk coming out of Washington. While it may be hard for those who are affected the most by reforms to follow the ups and downs the immigration debate, our Orlando immigration law firm will keep you informed as to any developments.