At the end of 2013, immigration reform seemed dead in the water, but now that resurgence of support is occurring, many are hopefully wondering: will 2014 be the year we see comprehensive immigration reform?
As was the case last fall when immigration reform stalled, House Speaker Boehner will likely play a critical role in whether immigration reform succeeds. The Senate already approved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act last year, and the bill currently awaits approval from the House of Representatives. Last November, House Speaker Boehner ruled out the possibility of negotiating with the Senate on the proposed immigration bill, but now he seems to be singing a slightly different tune. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that Boehner recently told a group of donors that he was “hellbent” on implementing immigration reform this year, but then later criticized his fellow Republicans for their inability to accomplish immigration reform measures.
It is currently exists, the bill approved by the Senate last year includes the following key provisions:
Create a “path to citizenship,” whereby undocumented immigrants would be able to receive green cards and apply for full citizenship after all other prior applications for green cards have been processed on behalf of people who have pursued a traditional path to full citizenship;
Phase in mandatory use of the federal E-Verify system by employers so that they can accurately and consistently determine employment eligibility;
Eliminate country-specific limits on employment-based immigration visas, which have previously caused huge backlogs for petitioners from large countries, such as India and China;
Exempt from annual immigration visa caps certain “highly skilled” and “very talented” immigrants, including immigrants of ”extraordinary ability,” multi-national executives, graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (so-called “STEM” fields), and physicians who fill special medical needs or who work in medically underserved areas;
Exempt all STEM applicants from the usual labor certification requirements; and
Exempt from annual caps all spouses and children of all employment-based immigrants.
To date, however, Boehner has said that he will only support piecemeal immigration legislation, such as the legalization of young undocumented immigrants, commonly referred to as “dreamers,” but he has rejected the Senate’s comprehensive approach.
President Obama has already indicated that he supports immigration reform.
Immigration reform advocates continue to urge lawmakers to enact comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible. In fact, on May 1st, pro-immigration organizations such as the AFL-CIO, Casa de Maryland, and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) marched in front of the White House in an effort to persuade the government to pass immigration reform this year.
We will continue to keep you updated on any progress, delays, or other developments. In the meantime, we stand ready to serve those in need of immigration assistance, including those who are likely to be the beneficiaries of expected legislative reforms.