Illustration: Truth and Lie

Promises, Promises: Are Congress and The White House Really Going to Do Something About Immigration in 2013?
By Sean Lewis, Immigration Attorney January 9, 2013

It appears that immigration is about to take center stage after Washington has kicked the can down the road for decades. The question remains: Are they serious this time?

Since the last major immigration overhaul in 1996, our immigration system has been completely dysfunctional and broken: It can take decades for people to immigrate legally while families remain separated, many people cannot immigrate in the first place (there is no “line” to get into), the best and the brightest people are leaving in droves to compete against us, the border cannot be completely “sealed”.

Promises, Promises
Obama has won an overwhelming landslide in gaining the Latino vote this year and the Republicans have offended and isolated the largest growing voter block in the United States by vitriolic and racist-sounding discourse in the media and in the debates on immigration. Now the Republicans are trying to make amends and have been “re-thinking” the immigration issue because suddenly they “care”-at least that is what they want to portray to retain relevance as a political party. Surprisingly, the Republican Party and Latinos have much in common in terms of core conservative values: family values, a hard work ethic and an aversion to let the government regulate the minute details in their lives.

Obama, on the other hand did not keep his 2008 campaign promises of introducing comprehensive immigration reform, by becoming distracted with the economy and health care. The President did not introduce any new legislation following his election, but rather deported a record number of undocumented immigrants throughout his last term. It remains to be seen if Obama will come through with his promise to introduce new immigration legislation before the next fiscal, tax or health-care crisis distracts his attention again.

The Obama Administration did enact several policies aimed at immigration enforcement targeted at criminal aliens and employers. Further, the Administration chose to place removals against children who have been in the country illegally, through no fault of their own at the bottom of the deportation priority list under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as passed the provisional waiver procedure allowing the filing of unlawful presence waivers stateside. These fixes are but a band aid on a gaping wound, however.

The Republicans have placed immigration hawks on the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee to show just how serious they really are about really fixing the complex issue of immigration. Rep. Bob Godlatte, R-VA is expected to lead the way to change and has opposed Obama’s administrative fixes with passion. The House Republicans have likewise appointed Rep. Trey Goowdy, R-SC. Who on the other hand, appears to understand that the U.S. cannot deport 11 million people who lack legal status. Like the “Odd Couple”, can these two work together in the same house without driving each other crazy? It might be a signal that a compromise in the House might actually take form after a real battle from within the party.

It is the opinion of this writer that politics will kill any real discussion of fixing the multi-faceted problem of immigration in the United States. Sadly, 11 million new tax payers could save Social Security and put billions of tax dollars towards repaying the deficit. We could attract the best and the brighest who want to come here, while also keeping families together and enforce the laws intelligently with new legislation. But for now, it is all promises, promises once again.

Sean Lewis is the Managing Member of the Law Offices of Sean Lewis, PLLC.