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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Will immigration reform happen in 2014?

By Jade Carpio

Barack Obama ended 2013 with the lowest approval ratings at this point in the course of a president of any U.S. chief executive since World War II, save Richard Nixon. The Obama Administration faced a seemingly unending drumbeat of negative news throughout the year, including scandals involving the IRS and NSA, nagging questions about the President's handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the disastrous public launch of major elements of the Affordable Care Act and that law's main consumer website. At the end of December, previous statements made by the President were dubbed the biggest lies of the year.

U.S. immigration reform
The U.S. is estimated to have 11 million illegal immigrants
In many ways, the Obama agenda is in tatters. As 2014 opens, the President holds hope that he may be able to salvage his administration and his place in history through a significant, lasting achievement. In this regard, the President has indicated his determination to overall federal immigration laws during the coming year.

A hard push for immigration reform

Even without the baggage Obama carries into the new year, achieving meaningful immigration reform would not be an easy course for the President. Indeed, he already faces skepticism from reform advocates. Under his watch, record numbers of deportations have taken place despite Obama's recurring lip service paid to the idea of reform. Thus, the President faces an immediate task of convincing those who would be natural allies in the fight for immigration reform that he seriously is committed to the concept.

The President has begun the process of appealing to the public at large regarding the need for fair, meaningful immigration reform. He has also made overtures with leading members of Congress regarding his desire to move forward in regard to this type of legislation. Indeed, the President and John Boehner, Speaker of the House, have both sent concrete signals that comprehensive immigration reform not seen since Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office is possible in 2014.

Issues with the Senate and President Obama

The Senate did pass a bipartisan, comprehensive bill in 2013 that addressed a variety of issues. These included border security, immigration enforcement protocols and offered a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million immigrants illegally residing in the United States at this time. The legislation went nowhere in the House of Representatives.

In an effort to move the issue forward, the President stopped demanding that the House pass the Senate bill. Rather, he is indicated that he is now open to multiple pieces of legislation that individually address the different issues included in the Senate bill. This approach to an immigration overhaul is thought to be more acceptable to members of the House of Representatives previously uninterested in consider the legislation approved by the Senate. Although willing to take a step-by-step approach, the President made it clear that all of the matters addressed in the Senate bill ultimately would need to be acted upon by Congress.

Another sign that immigration reform may see the light of day in 2014 rests in Speaker Boehner's hiring of Rebecca Tallent, who previously served as the director of a bipartisan think tank's task force on immigration reform. Washington insiders see this move as an indication that immigration reform legislation is likely during the coming year. 

About the author: Jade Carpio is a blogger for Shulman Law Group, an immigration attorney located in northern New Jersey. She enjoys blogging about immigration reform and news.
Image license: Creative Commons image source