Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Will Immigration Reform Occur in 2009?

immigrationMost would argue that the results of the 2008 election are good news for immigration reform. However, it remains to be seen whether the Democratic Congress and the President will address the issue in the near future given the plethora of problems that they now face.

In a story for NPR (National Public Radio), Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, a Washington based advocacy group, revealed that this election has changed the discourse when it comes to immigration reform since, “it seems that when it comes to elections, anti-immigrant groups are all bark and no bite.” The group tracked 18 close congressional races that pitted an enforcement-oriented Republican against a pro-legalization Democrat; in nearly all, the Democrat won. “Immigration is not just a Latino or Asian or immigrant issue,” proclaimed Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. “This is an issue of America.”

Congressional and Presidential candidates spent a combined amount of $27.5 million dollars on 253 advertisements on immigration issues, reported Lynn Tramonte, policy Director of America’s Voice. Though it didn’t come up in the presidential debates, immigration policy emerged as a key issue in the November 4th elections especially among new naturalized citizens and among children of immigrants born since 1965. Some polls showed that Latinos may not have been as concerned with immigration as they were with other issues such as the economy or healthcare. However, Clarissa Martinez, Senior Director of Immigration and National Campaigns at the National Council of La Raza explains that, “It is a misconception that Latinos aren’t concerned about immigration just because it is not always the top issue.” In fact she believes that immigration, especially over the last three years, has been the “driving push factor” influencing the Latino vote. “We’ve seen this [trend] since the election in 2006, when Latinos started walking away from the Republican Party because of their embrace of anti-immigrant political strategies,” Martinez explained. Indeed, many believe that the Republican Party’s stance on immigration cost them the gains they had made in previous elections.

As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged to address immigration in the first 100 days of his administration. However, this was before the economic crisis became the center point of the campaign. According to Karen Narasaki, President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center , “In a weak economy, when people are losing jobs and feeling financially insecure, it’s going to be much more difficult to have a rationale discussion about immigration and get the kind of fair, humane, comprehensive policies that we are seeking.” She adds, “the challenge for Obama, perhaps, is not so much when he will tackle immigration reform but how he will approach all the issues it entails: amnesty, backlog, raids, enforcement agencies, border patrol, and the undocumented.”

Most agree that given the state of the economy, it is unlikely that once inaugurated President Obama will be able to immediately address this issue. The key for him will be to express to Latinos who gave him their vote that this is an issue he deeply cares about and is on his list of priorities. Frank Sharry further argues that this issue is about more than delivering on promises made during the election. He believes, “Democrats need to be thinking to the future and this future should include an immigration reform. If the diminished Republican Party hopes to win back that Hispanic support, it could be harder for them to completely oppose the idea of an immigration reform.”

The question of when Democrats will take on what many have called “the third rail of politics” remains to be answered. President-elect Obama’s soon to be Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel more recently, has been quoted as saying, “immigration reform won’t happen during the new Democratic administration’s first term given the state of the economy.” But for those who have been pushing for action on this issue the clock is ticking for the Democrats. Martinez of NCLR said, “We’re not going to give them a free pass; we’re not going to wait more than one year.” Perhaps the issue can be addressed in segments rather than with one huge bill. The Federal Dream Act which would place undocumented students on a path to citizenship would be an excellent start.

In the case of immigration reform, patience is a virtue. But one cant help but wonder, haven’t we waited long enough?

Hispanic Turnout May Spur Immigration Overhaul

Newspaper Tree


  1. How long do you think it will take at the most for undoceumented immigrants to get some sort of status such as a tempory workers card and not have to fear prosecution and if illegal immigrants who have been filing there taxes on time and have a really good credit;will there be any sort of difference than the ones who haven’t filed taxes and don’t have a credit. There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants and if they all get some sort of status such as a tempory workers program, the economy will get a boost having those estimated 11 million filing taxes, working and not to mention the fines that they will be paying for them to get some sort of status. If all those illegal immigrants had a legal status and stayed in the U.S, the money will also stay in the U.S instead of them sending it out to there families in there home countries. This will keep the money in the U.S and again it will help out the economy greatly. Illegal immigrants are the backbone of agiculture in the U.S because most of the illegal immigrants work in the fields picking peaches and prunes something that not very many American Citizens do and without those illegal immigrants doing all this the agicultural system in America will be broken and we will hve to depend on foreign countries for produce. Also if the illegal immigrants have to go back to their home countries and have to come back to get a legal status, this will help out the Airlines because of having those 11 million immigrants going via flying, which again will help out the economy. All this will reaaly help out the Democrats and in the long run(another term) for President Barack Obama. Please send me a reply on immigration and give any new information on immigration reform.

  2. Obama has failed to do any and all of the things he promised to do in his first 100 days, and he has a laundry list of excuses. Did he not expect to be busy when he got into office? This man swore up and down he would reform the eb5 green card ( I encourage everyone to look into this visa) and he never acted on it. The man simply is not reliable or trustworthy (this coming from someone who voted for him!)