As a practitioner of immigration law, I have fielded countless questions concerning paths to citizenship. Although there remain considerable challenges for undocumented immigrants from obtaining citizenship, the recent changes in the political landscape should provide renewed hope.
A coalition of Christian groups, law enforcement groups, business people and GOP Congressional leaders voiced strong support for immigration reform this past week as they gathered in Washington D.C. Among the Republican leaders supporting the revived immigration reform movement is former President George W. Bush who enjoyed significant support from the Latino community. He urged national lawmakers to discuss a comprehensive immigration reform deal. In recent weeks, many Republican leaders have made proposals about how to grant legal residency to undocumented immigrants.
In the weeks following the presidential election, in which overwhelming Latino support for President Obama helped him achieve a second term, immigration reform has become a hot topic for politicians. On December 4, 2012, many of these conservative leaders, including Richard Land and noted tax opponent Grover Norquist, gathered at a bipartisan national conference sponsored by the National Immigration Forum. Most importantly, the more than 250 attendees included Land, who is a leader among Southern Baptists, and many evangelical Christian groups that comprise an important segment of the Republican party. Evangelical Christians have been one of the few major groups within the beleaguered party that has historically supported immigration reform, and they were on hand to make their case to lawmakers.
Some of these Christian leaders even supported the adoption of citizenship roadmaps. Rev. Pat Noonan of Concord, CA encouraged congressional leaders to permit undocumented workers the opportunity to gain citizenship. Many Christian figures reinforced the belief that Hispanic communities should be considered ideologically similar to Republicans in terms of social issues. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of Sacramento, CA stated, “This is not a marginalized portion of our base, this is our base.”
This conference takes advantage of renewed interest in immigration reform on the part of Senate leaders. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Sen. Jon Kyl recently proposed the Achieve Act which would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain legal residency through a combination of collegiate education, military service or employment. This falls short of the possibility of citizenship that the Democratic Dream Act proposal would allow, but it does signify a willingness to compromise from Republican leadership. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to satisfy many Latino immigrants who are steadfastly committed to receiving a path to citizenship rather than any temporary legal status.
These efforts along with renewed dialogue among evangelical Christian groups suggest that the Republican stance on immigration is undergoing serious re-consideration. Although large portions of the Republican Party remain adamantly opposed to granting legal status to individuals who have broken the law, the rest of the party may be willing to make serious concessions to the Latino and Asian communities in return for the party’s continued survival.
Having witnessed similar political discussions in the past and having practiced immigration law for several years, I can provide legal advice if you are considering your options for achieving legal status. If you would like a private consultation with my office, please contact us at (512) 215-5225.