There are few legal areas that require more of a comprehensive examination and restructuring than the nation’s immigration policy. As an immigration attorney practicing in Texas, I am confronted with the enormous inequities that exist in this patchwork of federal law, state statutes and enforcement policies. For the millions of immigrants in the country without the proper documentation, it can often be like traversing a minefield.
That is why I am so encouraged by President Barack Obama’s commitment to comprehensive immigration reform. Although he made similar promises in his first term, it appears that the political realities will ensure something is accomplished over the next four years.
On the NBC news program, Meet the Press, President Obama stated he would introduce new legislation during the first year of his second term. He reinforced his commitment to pushing through legislation, likening it to his first term campaign to pass the Affordable Care Act. The president promises to have a significant list of items to accomplish in his second term including resolution of various fiscal budgetary issues and a push to re-enact the assault weapons ban.
Despite these other responsibilities, an immigration package is likely to be sent to Congress for a number of important reasons. Despite the resistance from certain elements of the conservative caucus, there is growing support among Republicans to reach out to Hispanic voters, and immigration reform–with or without a path to citizenship–is likely to help them secure more votes in the next election. The changing electoral landscape with a growing contingent of Latino voters has both parties trying to establish good relationships with immigrant communities.
Another reason for President Obama’s commitment to immigration reform is his gratitude to Latino voters and political power stemming from the election. With huge majorities among Latino voters in the presidential election, President Obama understands that the most important issue to immigrant communities is streamlining the legal residency and citizenship programs for the millions of undocumented aliens residing in the U.S. Winning re-election by such large margins has provided him with the political will and capital to achieve a much needed immigration law.
President Obama has also stated that he is confident new immigration legislation can be passed. Compared to the gargantuan tasks of entitlement reform and gun legislation, immigration seems like an achievable goal. Now that the fiscal cliff situation has been defused, it is likely that the President will begin to move on immigration. Various Republican Congressional leaders have already taken steps to introduce immigration laws like the Achieve Act, the Republican version of the Dream Act.
While it is too early to determine what provisions the new legislation will include, as an immigration attorney, I am eager to see how the President and Congress collaborate to solve these pressing issues. If Congress does pass a comprehensive immigration package, I anticipate that millions of undocumented immigrants will be able to gain some legal status.
If you or your family have questions about this or relates issues, please contact my office to set up a private consultation. You may reach my office at (512) 215-5225.