Monthly Archives: February 2008

COULD WE FAST-FORWARD TO COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM?

Over the next few weeks my entries will be briefer than usual because H-1B season is upon us.  However, I will try to make my daily contributions, time-permitting.  I will also post any newsworthy immigration developments as they arise.

According to a Reuters.com article:  “With President George W. Bush in his final year in office, most experts believe it will be up to the next president to tackle a major overhaul of U.S. immigration laws. But some say Congress could tinker around the edges to address the urgent needs of U.S. businesses.”

I don’t see congress doing much “tinkering” with immigration (especially in a positive way) until after the elections, but I have been wrong before.  Congress needs to allow for more legal immigration and offer a path to earned legalization for the undocumented who qualify in addition to increased enforcement.

LIKELY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES NOW COMFORTABLE DISCUSSING IMMIGRATION

According to an article on Boston.com: “Last fall, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama was eager to take a stand when asked in a series of debates whether illegal immigrants should be able to apply for drivers’ licenses. But Thursday night, they were much less bashful when the issue of immigration came up: Clinton said she would stop federal raids against undocumented workers, consider halting the construction of a border fence, and during her first 100 days as president, pursue a legalization plan for illegal immigrants.”

When the race began, the anti-immigration and anti-undocumented (“antis”) Republicans vowing for the nomination were stepping all over themselves to see which candidate could be the most punitive while the Democrats were strategically remaining silent on the issue. The antis abandoned the race like flies and left the only pro-immigration candidate standing, John McCain.

Republicans are now in a precarious position on the issue because far-right conservatives support an “anti” stance on immigration but McCain not only supported but co-sponsored Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the Senate. He is now attempting to back pedal and say he’s “heard the American people” and will “secure the borders first.” Both Obama and Clinton now unabashedly support earned legalization for the millions of undocumented currently in the US.

It will be tricky for McCain to debate either of them on immigration. The truth is that despite talk-radio and cable TV fanatics, most Americans support offering a path to earned legalization for those who are in the US without authorization. McCain himself supported, and continues to support a legalization program – but now with the caveat “after the borders are secure”.

Moreover, courting Latino voters will require the candidates treating their undocumented friends and family members with respect and not scapegoating them for political gain.

ATTY GENERAL ANNOUNCES HIGHER FINES AGAINST EMPLOYERS FOR IMMIGRATION VIOLATIONS

According to a US Department of Justice  Press Release:  “Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today announced higher civil fines against employers who violate federal immigration laws. The announcement was made in a joint briefing today with Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff about newly enacted border security reforms put in place by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Under the new rule, which was approved by Attorney General Mukasey and Secretary Chertoff, civil fines will increase by as much as $5,000. The new rule will take effect on March 27, 2008, and will be published in the Federal Register early next week.”

SOME UNDOCUMENTED MAY FLEE ARIZONA FOR NEIGHBORING UTAH

The new state-enacted immigration laws is resulting in some undocumented aliens moving from Arizona to Utah. According to The Salt Lake Tribune: “As Utah debates how to treat undocumented immigrants, Arizona is watching new laws and an economic downturn drive away those workers, likely sending many to Utah.”

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out around the country. Until Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is enacted, there will be more shifting of the benefits and burdens of the undocumented from state to state. Moreover, if CIR is eventually enacted and it allows for the legalization of the undocumented, Arizona will be at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to businesses having a pool of new legal immigrants to hire.