2013 Immigration Reform: Leaks from the Senate Compromise give clues as to where the debate will start

Posted on 04/12/13

Maybe it isn’t 2007 after all? For those of us who followed the vicious debate over immigration reform the last time it was discussed in Congress, the attitude about the current discussions about immigration reform tends to be a “wait and see” attitude. Yet, there have been leaks about the provisions that will be included in a compromise bill introduced in the US Senate next week. This bill will include a number of changes to current immigration law and will likely put a halt to a large percentage of the random deportations that still occur today. Immigration policy under President Obama requires that federal immigration agents focus on “criminal aliens,” or undocumented immigrants with criminal records. The policy is still pretty vague as to who actually gets deported (and housed in immigration jails for weeks and months until placed on a plane and physically removed from the United States) and who gets to benefit from an exercise of discretion. Who actually exercises this discretion? Career Immigration Officers. Immigration officers who have had a federal job for years–before Obama, many before G.W. Bush. Federal employees with very little oversight as to how to exercise the discretion that they have been given by the Administration. I hope that this new Immigration Compromise, if it turns into law, clarifies and restrains the authority of the officials by providing clear guidelines and clear lines of authority and oversight for officials in charge of enforcing this nation’s immigration laws.

For the latest proposals that have been leaked to the media regarding the immigration reform bill for 2013,click here for a summary from the Washington Post. Tightened border security is a key component of getting enough votes for the bill. A legalization path, or a path to citizenship is included. By some accounts, this will require that people learn to speak and write English, pay taxes, including back taxes, and wait nearly 15 years. In addition, the people who would be eligible to apply for legalization must first demonstrate that they have passed a criminal background check. It seems that there will be a cut-off date of December 31, 2011 for applicants–which means that those who arrived after this date will need to return to their country and apply to come to the United States with a visa. Other proposals are coming out to the media each day. I will continue to write on the new proposals as they come out. In the meantime, tell me what you think about these new proposals and what you would like to see in the 2013 Immigration Law Compromise.