Whither Immigration Reform? Wither, Immigration Reform?

It has been a long, cold winter in Congress. Elsewhere in the nation, record snowfalls are melting to reveal tender green shoots breaking through the hard-pack, but inside the halls of Congress, a sort of cold war rages on between the Democrats and Republicans. Health care is stuck in the permafrost, and as the New York Times put it last week, immigration reform is “on ice.” (See: Reform, on Ice, New York Times, Editorial, Mar 2, 2010.)

The Times editorial board urges prompt movement on a comprehensive bill, even while recognizing that chances of this happening in 2010 are growing ever more remote. Immigrant advocates are getting frustrated with the lack of progress, the Times says, and immigration courts are getting backed up with more cases than they can handle, as Bush-era enforcement policies – raids and deportations – are continued by the current administration. The problem remains a pressing one, and the Times calls on Congress and President Obama to “find the spine to fashion a fair, comprehensive bill and then fight for it.” It also exhorts the President to make good on his campaign promise, to give the undocumented a path to citizenship.

Shifts in the political climate are notoriously difficult to predict – perhaps more subject to error than weather forecasts – but a thaw may be on the horizon for immigration reform. According to the Los Angeles Times, President Obama met last week with his Domestic Policy Council to see if they could move forward with immigration reform before the mid-term elections this fall. Joining them were Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), the LA Times reports, who have spent the past several months trying to hammer out a bipartisan immigration reform bill. Both senators could be instrumental in brokering a compromise deal, but Republican support remains elusive. The LA Times quotes Senator Schumer as remarking that he’s having a hard time recruiting GOP supporters for CIR, other than Senator Graham: “We’re very hopeful we can get a bill done. We have all the pieces in place. We just need a second Republican.”

According to the LA Times article, immigration advocates say that a reform bill must be on the move by late April, early May – at the latest – if it is to have any chance of passage. Summer in Washington can be hotter than Hades, and hotter still in an election season, leaving us to ponder whether immigration reform might fare better in fire, than in ice!

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.