President Obama has taken charge, Congress has a majority of Democrats in both the House and the Senate so immigration reform is a sure bet, right? Not so fast. Considering that two wars and an economy that many in the media incessantly repeat is on the brink of collapse, immigration reform may not happen this year.
Even if CIR were to happen, if an element of reform is an earned legalization program, it might be difficult for foreign nationals to find employers willing to sponsor them and even if they do, unless the economy improves, there will be many times where qualified US applicants will apply for the positions thereby defeating the employment labor certification application.
I am a huge proponent of immigration reform and a great fan of President Obama. If the President and his senior staff were to use their best judgment and do what is best for America, immigration reform should be somewhere on the list, but definitely not the first priority. It is a tricky situation because Obama made it clear that he supported immigration reform throughout his campaign, a good bill would probably pass both houses of Congress and even Senator McCain would rally members of his party to support it in the Senate, where a slot has been reserved to debate the issue. On the flip side, Americans are losing jobs and the prospects for the economy seem bleek, at least for the immediate future. It would be a wasted effort for hundreds of thousands if not millions of labor certifications to be filed in the current climate where the DOL is backlogged beyond belief and many times there are several minimally qualified US applicants for a single open position in which case a labor certification application cannot be filed. There are also rumors that the DOL will start implementing supervised recruitment of some applications, which will likely delay the process even more.
Objectively, the new Administration and Congress should focus on doing whatever it takes to get the economy back on track and perfect a CIR bill behind the scenes to present when the time is right. Obama strikes me as a multi-tasker and getting the ball rolling on CIR now would probably mean many months before the law takes effect by which time the economy may very well have improved. Moreover, certain aspects of our immigration system could be reformed immediately, such as the DREAM Act. Hopefully, the President saves some of his political capital to spend on CIR. In the meantime, members of teh Administration, the government agencies involved and Congress should start working out the kinks.