All has been quiet on the immigration reform front since Congress went on recess in August, and as of today, September 24, 2013, there seem to be more questions regarding comprehensive immigration reform than answers. The following are three questions on the minds of all parties affected by any pending legislation.
1) Is the House of Representatives deliberately stalling with the hope that any potential bill “dies” in the House, or does the House have a plan of action with regards to immigration reform?
2) If the House decides to act on immigration reform, will they continue with the piecemeal approach advocated by the majority of Republicans, or will they vote on the bill passed by an overwhelming majority in the Senate?
3) If Congress decides to continue with the piecemeal approach, will they eventually draft legislation that grants a “Pathway to Citizenship” for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.?
With regards to the first question, many political insiders have stated that the House plans on addressing immigration reform in October, after the current budgetary issues are addressed. Fortunately, it appears as though a diplomatic resolution has been reached with Syria, though no one can predict if another crisis will arise, or if the House will move onto something else.
With regards to question number two, the conservative members of the House have had no problem drafting legislation that addresses immigration enforcement and border security. They may even be in favor of drafting legislation that grants additional temporary visas to skilled workers (H-1B visas), and there has even been some talk of support for the Dream Act which would provide a pathway to Citizenship for those children brought into the U.S. when they were children, and who have graduated from high school, or obtained a G.E.D.
The third question is the most problematic because only 24 of 233 Republican members of the House represent districts where more than one-quarter of their constituents are Hispanic. Moderate Republicans with districts containing sizeable immigrant populations, as well as Republican senators who voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform, must be able to persuade their conservative colleagues in the House that the future of the Republican party hinges upon attracting Hispanic voters.
We will keep our fingers crossed, and hope that lobbyists, the President, and members of the Senate can convince obstinate members of the House to think about what’s best for the long term interests of their party, the country, and the millions of undocumented immigrants and their U.S. citizen children, brothers, and sisters. (Some reassurance that they would not be unseated would also help).