By Kalpana V. Peddibhotla
In our last July Newsletter, we described the U.S. Senate’s historic step in passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill, S.744, on June 27, 2013. After our last newsletter, many people contacted our office to inquire about the “new immigration reform law.”
At this time there is NO new immigration reform law. In order for a bill to become law both parts of Congress – the Senate and the House of Representatives – must agree on the final proposed legislation and the President must sign the bill into law. While the Senate’s bill passage was historic, we still have a long way to go before Congress has a final proposed bill that can become law.
So what is the House of Representatives doing about immigration reform? Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has reiterated on several occasions that the House would not consider the Senate’s bill. In light of this, after the Senate passed its bill, the House of Representatives had 3 potential options left that it could take:
1) Pass a bunch of small bills reforming various aspects of the Immigration system but not comprehensively overhauling our immigration system;
To this end the House has proposed at least 5 bills that have passed out of committee that provide for an agricultural guest worker program, tighter border controls, greater worksite enforcement, and expanding visas for STEM workers. There is also legislation being proposed that would provide a pathway to “DREAMERs” – young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents, and who in every aspect are American but for the lack of papers.
2) Propose their own comprehensive immigration reform bill; or
3) Do nothing.
At the end of July, there appeared to have been limited movement on comprehensive immigration reform by the House. However, during the current August recess, with members of the House back in their districts, they have been receiving a lot of heat from their constituents to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship to the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
It was politics that thrust the immigration debate to the fore, and we suspect it will be political pressure that ultimately determines the course of immigration reform in the U.S.