2006 Immigration Trend 2/4

Posted on September 18, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Is Immigration Reform Dead?

Recently, people’s interest in the immigration reform has reduced and the negotiation between the Senate and the House on this issue have not yet made into the agenda of the Congress.  Then, does this mean the immigration reform, which so many people have been praying for, will not come this year?  Does it mean all the efforts put in to pass the immigration bill are wasted?

The Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate has made a historic breakthrough earlier this year by passing the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. This bill was proposed to strengthen the national security in preparation of the terrorist attack on one hand, and to give qualified illegal immigrants the opportunities to adjust their status legally in the U.S. on the other hand.  It also included the Guest Worker Program proposed by President Bush.  Nevertheless, the bill passed by the House has been taking a totally different position in treating illegal immigrants.  According to the bill passed by the House, the illegal immigrants living in the U.S. would be considered federal felony and it would not allow them to legally adjust their status in the U.S.  Moreover, the bill passed by the House would not include the Guest Worker Program either.  Such sharp differences between the Senate and the House bill would become an extremely huge obstacle in reaching a compromise regarding the immigration reform.

In addition, the mid-term election is near.  Most of the hard core supporters of the Republicans are the conservatives from the South and the Southwest.  They hold the position of anti-immigration and support the restrictive bill passed by the House.  Considering the strong challenges posted by the Democrats for the upcoming election and the record low public support received by President Bush and the Congress controlled by the Republican, many of the Republicans feel the need to rely on the support from these hard core conservatives. For this purpose, these Republicans would have to keep their strong position against the immigrants.  To act in other ways, they would have to face the risk of losing these hard core supporters and at the same time the risk of exposing the Republican’s internal difference to the public.  As a result, instead of scheduling negotiations to solve their differences with the Senate, the Republicans of the House have chosen to hold a nationwide hearing about the immigration issues.  By choosing the nationwide hearing, the Republicans of the House would leave no time for the Congress to pass the immigration reform bill.  It would enable them to kill the immigration reform technically without killing it formally.

According to the latest news, Bill Frist, the Republican’s majority leader in the Senate pointed out that the new session of the Senate would focus on the national security issue.  It means that the immigration reform is not on their priority list. The House seems to be taking the same position.  At this point, President Bush has not completely given up the hope of passing the immigration reform bill, but it is highly unlikely for it to pass the Congress this year.

This could be devastating news to those illegal immigrants who have been praying for the Congress and President Bush to come up with an immigration relief.  Some may be discouraged that all the efforts put in the immigration reform so far would be wasted.  It is true that the immigration reform bill is most unlikely to pass this year.  However, it would be quite incorrect in believing that all the efforts made on the immigration reform in the U.S. is made in no veil and the immigration reform is at its dead end.  On the contrary, all factors and the interested groups’ pushing for the immigration reform still exist.  With times going on, the immigration reform would become more urgent for the U.S. in dealing with the coming challenges of aged baby boomers and widespread shortage of labor.  Please refer to our analysis in our next article for more detail on this topic.

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