In a recent interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, President Obama said that "fixing our broken immigration system is a top priority; I will introduce legislation in the first year to get that done. I think we have talked about it long enough."
Immigration reform was a major issue in the last Presidential campaign with both candidates stating it was a priority. However, Democrats and Republicans have different ideas on what that reform should be, which is why it has not happened yet. President Obama believes the fact that Republicans did poorly with Latino voters in the last election may make them more willing to compromise.
While I do not claim to have a crystal ball, here are some immigration reforms to look out for:
- An updated version of the Dream Act, providing legal status to some illegal aliens. Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been in the forefront on this issue and his views are not so far from the President’s position.
- An easing of the restriction on H-1B spouses who are currently not allowed to work in the U.S. There have been proposals to allow those H-4 visa holders who have applied for permanent resident status to work while they wait to adjust status.
- We may also finally see a substantial increase in the H-1B cap, which would allow more professional immigrants to work in the U.S. in fields such as science, technology, engineering and math. The STEM Jobs Act, which was recently passed by the House of Representatives already sought to accomplish this among other items.
While these reforms may never materialize, they are all controversial and already being debated in Washington. I will keep you posted of any updates in immigration law or practice.