Why Immigration Reform has Better Odds at Being Approved this Time Around?

Not only is the proposal for Immigration Reform a product of the Republican loss of the Latino vote in the last election and their attempt to recover it, but it is also a product of an improved economy and a steadily lowering unemployment rate. The most recent unemployment rate of 7.6% is a full 3 percentage points lower than at its highest point in 2010 or 9.6%, and is only 3% higher than the natural rate of unemployment.

Moreover, President Obama no longer has to face reelection which gives him greater ability to influence immigration reform strongly. For example, both Presidents Reagan and Clinton signed significant immigration reform laws in their second terms.

Another significant factor is that this fall there are no mid-term elections, therefore virtually no politician will be facing the electorate which will give them greater flexibility to support a bill that is either slightly to the left or right of their natural political position. Despite all the political and security turmoil, together these factors make it increasingly easier to pass Immigration Reform law this time around.

What hasn’t been discussed?

The media has discussed a great deal about the purported fact, that the benefits of this program will not be available until the border security measures have been successfully implemented, however, the actual current provisions of the law provide for distribution of most benefits after DHS has presented a plan for border security, not after its implementation has been achieved, as many suggest.

Section 3 (c) states:

“Not earlier than the date upon which the Secretary has submitted to Congress the Notice of Commencement of implementation of the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy and the Southern Border Fencing Strategy under section 5 of this Act, the Secretary may commence processing applications for registered provisional immigrant status pursuant to section 245B of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as added by section 2101 of this Act.”

“The Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant status, except for aliens granted agriculture card status under section 2201 of this Act or described in section 245D(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, until the Secretary, after consultation with the Comptroller General of the United States, submits to the President and Congress a written certification that… the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy has been submitted to Congress and is substantially deployed and substantially operational.”

In conclusion, the provisions that purport to delay the benefit of adjustment of status or Legal Permanent Residence, based upon the achievement of Southern border security are largely, if not entirely irrelevant, because the only benefit subject to this delay is adjustment of status or legal permanent residence derived from Registered Provisional Immigration Status—it does not prevent adjustment of status under any other provision of the law. In addition, the proposed law already provides that these adjustments of status applications cannot be processed until the entire current visa application in the backlog have been processed and the backlog eliminated, which will take approximately 10 years. Finally, there is a provision of the proposal that states that adjustment of status will be available after 10 years, regardless of whether or not border security is achieved. Therefore, the substantial benefits of this proposal will be effective 180 days after it becomes law. Those benefits being able to live and work in the US, be able to travel in and out of the US and be able to bring certain family members to the US; and full legal permanent resident status and in most cases citizenship will be accessible after 10 years.

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