This is supposedly going to be a big year for US Immigration Reform with the Healthcare Reform debate almost at a conclusion.
Along with our Top 10 US Immigration Predictions, legislation like the Dream Act and Senators Grassley and Durbin’s H1B Visa and L1 Visa Reform bills are already being debated a little and in the case of the latter bill already introduced into Congress. Suffice it to say this is going to be one crazy year for US Immigration.
Now in terms of specifics now that January has progressed a little things are looking less hopeful in some ways than they did on January 1, 2010. At that point there was a general expectation that the Healthcare reform bill which in 2 different forms had passed the House and Senate in Congress was going to be reconciled relatively speedily given the length of the process thus far.
Then President Obama, at least according to his and the Democrats ideal timetable would have been able to sign the bill into law in advance of his State of the Union address to the US Congress and the country this week.
However with Republican’s Scott Brown win in Massachusetts this Monday to fill the vacant Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy, everything has hit a major roadblock as this was supposedly a safe a Democratic seat and part of the country as there is. Ted Kennedy had held this seat for 46 years with his brother John F Kennedy before that.
It is also a state that Obama won overwhelmingly in the 2008 Presidential Election by over 20 points and that has very socially liberal policies like Gay Marriage and ironically Universal Healthcare! (always interesting the selfish nature of people when they have something of their own but it will cost more to have others able to have the same benefit they seem to play ignorant)
So given this and the extended and controversial nature of the Healthcare debate, one of two things are probably going to happen. Either the debate is going to continue as Obama indicated he would like this week but will be a more bipartisan bill and thus far more limited in its scope. Or Healthcare rebate in this debate and this current reform is going to cease which of course will mean more of the status quo for all Americans.
Now what does this all mean for US Immigration reform. Well even Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, one of the major driving forces of Healthcare Reform and the Liberal agenda of the Democratic Party has which includes more open Immigration policy, recently made some cautious statements. She said given the nature and nastiness of the fight and the political fallout already following the Massachusetts Senate race, that she does not want the House to debate anything additional controversial in 2010 until the Senate passes many of the bills they have already sent there.
Immigration Reform even in better economic times as it was in 2007 still was a heated and polarizing debate and eventually failed to pass both Houses of Congress and thus was defeated. And that was a bipartisan bill. So the chances of particularly the Democrats going out on a limb with reforms to help;
– legal and application costs
– ease and simplicity of process
– abuse in workplace by unscrupulous employers trying to threaten foreign workers
– green card delays and processing and lack of visa numbers particularly for citizens of China and India who are looking at delays of over 10 years
– increase in arbitrary quotas like the H1B visa quota
– lack of tax/social security benefits even though foreigners are paying all of these in full from their income
– fixing delays and morally unfair process like 221(g) administrative processing
– and others like illegal immigrants amnesty and path to US Citizenship
to me would seem remote as these are controversial issues that will probably illicit even more demonization in the media and from politicians that was seen in the Healthcare Debate. Republicans would be unlikely to be too involved in any major legislation as with the 2010 midterm elections upcoming they are more like at making bigger gains in the House and Senate ironically by doing nothing and criticizing the opposition that creating anything that could be attacked (you have got to love what the US legislative and political machine has become!!)
Additionally the lobby groups are only going to get stronger given they already played such a strong part in framing the Healthcare bill even though Obama campaigned that he wanted to limit the special interest influence. The lobby for groups like ultra nationalistic organizations that oppose all immigration is strong. As well as for lawyers who will always fight to keep the system geared towards them so they can continue to exploit and charge outrageous fees to foreigners who have little choice and option in the US Immigration system.
This will only be enhanced by the recent US Supreme Court ruling to overturn parts of the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance reform bill which limited how much organizations like corporations could spend supporting or attacking candidates in advertisements.
All in at this point in time, it looks largely bleak for any meaningful reform or even US Immigration reform at all in 2010 given the Healthcare issue. Maybe the Obama State of the Union address may shed some light on what may be to come but at this stage if you are a foreigner, I would continue to expect to navigate the US Immigration system as you are largely for a while yet.