Friday, May 1, 2015

The Current Immigration Climate in Congress

As has been said often, elections matter.  The 2014 elections unquestionably have changed the political terrain in which immigration reform will be debated.  The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security hearings on birthright citizenship, with the testimony tilted toward elimination of birthright citizenship, offer us an idea on how a Republican-controlled Congress will try to shape immigration reform in the waning years of the Obama administration.  In a nutshell, two things seem almost undisputable:  

1.   At least for the time being, comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants, faces a steep uphill climb; and 

2.    Immigrant rights advocates are likely to be in a defensive mode attempting to defeat Republican proposals that are enforcement-oriented and decidedly not pro-immigrant.

The lessons may seem obvious -- maybe they are.  Still, Democrats have lost the political power -- and the control of Congress -- that they had during the first six years of the Obama Presidency.  For now at least, the Obama expanded deferred action program is on indefinite hold.  And, the beginning of the Presidential campaign, with the declared Republican candidates such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul competing to be tougher than the rest on immigration, does not bode well for any kind of lasting and constructive immigration reform.


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