Immigration Reform on the Horizon in 2013?

Various announcements made during the last week of January make it seem as though much-needed immigration reform may be on the horizon.  First, on January 28, 2013, a bi-partisan coalition comprised of eight U.S. Senators, referred to as the “gang of eight”, issued a blueprint for immigration reform.  Then, on January 29, 2013, President Obama gave a speech in Las Vegas, Nevada on immigration reform and issued a White House proposal for immigration reform.  And, recently, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee set a hearing entitled, America's Immigration System: Opportunities for Legal Immigration and Enforcement of Laws against Illegal Immigration, to take place on February 5, 2013.

But, the bigger question is what will immigration reform look like? The Senate gang of eight provides for a “strict” path to citizenship conditioned on securing the border and strict employment eligibility verification systems.  The White House fact sheet proposes strengthening the border; requiring a mandatory employment eligibility verification system; and “earned citizenship” for the undocumented, which includes paying taxes, learning English and “getting in the back of the line”.  In the meantime, for some Republican members of the House, any pathway to citizenship for the undocumented may be a deal breaker.  See Peter Wallsten and Rosalind S. Helderman, Citizenship question roils both parties as immigration debate gets underway, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/citizenship-question-roils-both-parties-as-immigration-debate-gets-underway/2013/01/31/0588b44a-6b97-11e2-bd36-c0fe61a205f6_print.html.      

It is still too early to tell what these proposals will actually provide in terms of reform until legislation is drafted and introduced in Congress.  However, one thing is clear, the immigration debate appears to certainly be underway.

By Monica Guizar

Legal Developments