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Immigration Reform Update

The power to make changes in immigration reform in a just manner rests almost entirely within our court system.

Author: Noel Marie Laplume
Date: January 7, 2011

The L.A. Times has reported that President Obama and Latino lawmakers have agreed that chances for the passage of an immigration overhaul that would provide a path to legalize the status of millions of illegal residents are slim. Even though the president had promised to make this a priority during his presidential campaign, officials have said they have concluded that staving off legislation targeting illegal immigrants would be better until after the 2012 election since it is altogether a more realistic goal given the present political climate. Pres. Obama has reiterated that he will not be giving up on the issue and said he would mention it in his State of the Union address which will take place in a few days in hopes of pressuring Republicans into accommodating the fast-growing Latino voting bloc.

Proponents of a new national immigration system were fearful that once Republicans took control of the House of Representatives they would put together a package of laws that would only stress immigration enforcement. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who is credited for helping pass legislation in 1996 that increased penalties against illegal immigrants and happens to be the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has stated that enforcement would be one of his priorities and that he intended to “enact policies that will better secure our borders and discourage illegal immigration, human smuggling and drug trafficking.” Republican Congressman Peter King, who will be chairman of the House’s Homeland Security Committee, is another one who is expected to push for enforcement as he has claimed to favor workplace raids and improved cooperation between local law enforcement and federal agencies. He already stated he intends to hold hearings, push bills and seek funding to bolster the fight against illegal immigration. “There is a lack of urgency by the [current] administration,” said King. “They are confining deportations primarily to immigrants arrested for serious crimes and, while this is considered harsh, I do believe that the workplace raids do send the signal that we are serious about enforcement.”

Amid concerns about such draconian anti-immigrant efforts, President Obama soothed worries by saying that he would veto certain punitive legislation that Congress attempts to passes. Despite the fact that Democrats- who tend to be immigrant- friendly- still control the Senate, due to the fact that the House of Representatives is now under the control of the Republican Party, the prospects for a comprehensive immigration overhaul are far dimmer than they were at any point in the last two years when the Democrats controlled both chambers. That said, there is a growing number of Republicans who view the exclusion of Hispanics to be politically short-sighted. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill), said he believes some Republicans grasp the risks in antagonizing the Latin community. As occurred during the lame-duck session in Congress, Republicans and Democrats failed to find a compromise that would have allowed the DREAM Act to pass even though they had offered to negotiate it if the age limit for those who would qualify was reduced. In the end, only three Republican senators backed a move that would have allowed the bill to be voted on, which ended up being five votes short; thus, ending the hopes of ending the year on a positive note.

As we saw by the immigration initiative recently taken on by a coalition of states that would strip children from illegal immigrants born in their states from their Constitutional right to be automatically given U.S. citizenship, the bid to control immigration at the state-level has not wavered despite the predecessor of these (Arizona’s SB1070) is in the midst of an arduous court battle that has stopped it from being fully enforced. Even though the initiative is expected to be implemented by a handful of states, the fact that those state leaders have decided to do so it is in itself unsavory, to say the least. Apart from the fact that issuing a separate birth certificates for those born from illegal immigrants- which in effect creates a second-class of citizenship- is patently unconstitutional, by law, states are not only unauthorized to devise laws to control immigration, but they are above all not allowed to alter the fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution. If the prevalent xenophobic attitudes displayed by certain legislators weren’t enough, it is most unfortunate that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has banded together with South Carolina’s state Senator Danny Verdin and many others state leaders to monger more fear on what they call the “illegal alien invasion” claiming that their initiative will cure the “malady” and “poison” of undocumented immigrants. It is not only unfortunate that those state leaders hold those inflamed opinions, but their deliberate use of distasteful words is as ludicrous as it should be humiliating for the people of the states they represent. Fortunately, though, this initiative has already caught the public eye and will surely be taken to the courts to stymie its implementation.

As things stand now, it would have been ideal for Pres. Obama to take immigration policy by the reins and steer it in the proper direction by reforming the nation’s immigration policy. Yet reality is always far from being ideal. While it is expected that conservatives in Congress will press on with their hardline approach for getting more stringent enforcement only-type of bills passed, we believe that the current administration will do all it can to serve the ever-growing immigrant community in the best manner possible as he demonstrated when he initiated a lawsuit to stop the Arizona SB 1070. And although nothing in life is ever certain, an attack on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution will not be taken lightly. Once again, the power to resolve this issue in a just manner rests almost entirely within our court system.

Until further notice, we shall continue with our mission of providing the best legal representation by some of the best immigration lawyers in cities like Miami and New York, as well as in the nation at large.