This afternoon a bipartisan group of eight senators will unveil the framework for comprehensive immigration reform and tomorrow President Obama will discuss his proposal. It seems like now, more than any time in recent history, the stars are aligned for progress on what has always been a thorny issue.
I predict the trickiest issue will be the legalization component of any reform package for a couple of reasons. Politically, many House Republicans may not personally have much to lose by opposing what some refer to as “amnesty”. For them, it will be a matter of putting party before personal ambitions for reform to make it through the House.
From a practical point of view, some will object if undocumented immigrants are given an advantage over those who have applied through existing employment-based immigration channels. Most foreign nationals who obtain permanent residence through employment must first obtain a PERM labor certification which is an immigration process analogous to having an appendix removed. This is to test that there are no available US workers for the positions being offered to foreign workers. Legalizing and granting green cards to millions of permanent residents without first testing the labor market will lead to accusations of giving the undocumented preferential treatment.
This promises to be an interesting debate and as with previous attempts by congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, I will update regularly with important developments. During these debates CSPAN actually becomes a fascinating channel!