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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

FORBEARANCE?

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Is the Obama Administration preparing to torpedo plans for comprehensive immigration reform this year in exchange for a series of lesser interim reforms? I'm trying to read the tea leaves and am really curious about something Vice President Biden said on his recent Central America trip.

The economic slump and soaring unemployment in the United States
mean this is not a good time to push immigration reform, U.S. Vice
President Joe Biden told Central American leaders on Monday.



"It's difficult to tell a constituency while unemployment is rising,
they're losing their jobs and their homes, that what we should do is in
fact legalize (illegal immigrants) and stop all deportation," Biden
told a news conference in the Costa Rican capital.

***

"We believe, the president and I, that this problem can only be
solved in the context of an overall immigration reform," Biden said,
asked about the chances of extending temporary migrant protection
programs.




"We need some forbearance as we try to put together a comprehensive approach to deal with this."

I've never heard the term "forbearance" used in the immigration context before. Dictionary.com says it means "an abstaining from the enforcement of a right". I know banks use the term when they allow a borrower to put off making payments on a loan.

Perhaps Biden is talking about ending work site raids for a while, something that many observers think will happen. But does this really do much other than end some of the disturbing images we've seen on television? Unless we get in to a Great Depression situation (where the unemployment rate was about triple the current rate), we're not likely going to be in a situation where nearly enough Americans are available to replace the millions of immigrants currently working around the US without proper documentation. And G-d help us if that becomes the case since the jobs filled by these folks are bottom rung positions and this would certainly not bode well for the long term prospects of an economic superpower.

But perhaps the Vice President also means looking at a policy that offers a very limited form of relief to those millions of workers beyond a raid moratorium until the economic situation in the country is better. Former House Immigration Subcommittee Minority Counsel Nolan Rappaport and I wrote an article recently calling for a relief similar to Temporary Protected Status for those workers that would provide a short term employment card that would also allow for travel in and out of the country. And that's it. No path to a green card or citizenship. No right to bring over relatives. Just some interim relief until economic times are better and Congress is ready to deal with something more comprehensive.

This might also explain why the DREAM Act was just reintroduced. Is the AgJobs bill and maybe an employment immigration reform measure benefiting STEM workers coming as well? Perhaps the plan is to do something short of full scale reform that will include some of the key reforms on the table for the last few years. Perhaps these proposals would be bundled with some key reforms that the enforcement advocates want to see such as permanently reauthorizing e-Verify and requiring its use by US employers and getting a social security no-match system in place. US employers are more likely to be able to handle massive changes like these if workers have employment documents as noted above.

The question may be whether immigration activists on both sides of the debate are willing to compromise and accept proposals short of what they've envisioned? Will they decide that there is still a good chance to get a whole deal? Will they decide the status quo is a better alternative than partial reform?

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Comments

  1. Jim's Avatar
    It has gone murky of a sudden. We are not in normal times, that is for sure. Both sides needs to do compromises if they still want a CIR. If not, partial reform or piece-meal legislation should be entertained as well.

    The status quo is not good enough. At least in my opinion.
  2. eb2_immi's Avatar
    Greg,

    There is an article in LA times "A requirement that bailout recipients hire Americans over H1-B visa holders could be extended to all U.S. companies."

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-visa1-2009apr01,0,6445330.story

    what do you think of the chances of that happening.
  3. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    The Grassley proposal isn't really new, but it obviously has more support this year. I do think there will be a lot of pressure to force change on the H-1B program and hope we don't get something draconian like that bill. That's why I wrote my 10 Ideas for Reforming the H-1B Program article a few weeks back. There are a variety of changes that could be made that would address issues the critics point out.
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    As I said, CIR will not happen until 2011..and that is when they will make positive reforms to H1B and employment based immigration..but regarding the latter it may be too late. Like IBM jobs would have moved abroad not just to India, but places such as Singapore and Australia and yes, Canada!
  5. George Chell's Avatar
    "The Grassley proposal isn't really new, but it obviously has more support this year. I do think there will be a lot of pressure to force change on the H-1B program and hope we don't get something draconian like that bill."

    They have to get Tauscher and Lofgren on board in the House..until that happens Grassley-Durbin will not go anywhere. However, larger corporations fearing draconian measures will begin moving jobs to places such as India resulting in loss of tax and social security revenues for the US and state governments.
  6. gg's Avatar
    I was really dissapointed when I read this piece but since it was Joe I didn't take it seriously.

    Joe is the gift that keeps giving
  7. Jim's Avatar
    "I was really disappointed when I read this piece but since it was Joe I didn't take it seriously.

    Joe is the gift that keeps giving "

    - Ditto that : )
  8. giuseppe's Avatar
    why don`t do something different? why don`t extend the grandfather law or stop of the ban for overstay the visas for ten years?
  9. Another voice's Avatar
    Timing is never right for CIR, it does not matter if the economy is in a boom or a bust..., my guess is that CIR will be put off for a while(as expected...). Perhaps they are thinking with the high popularity of the president Hispanics can wait as long as down the road there is a promise of reform(carrot and stick), may be they will continue to support the dems and their majorities for now, after all they have waited this long what's a little bit longer? But if small reforms pass and some people get some help its better than nothing I guess, this is just more of kicking the can down the road and deal with it later!!!!!
  10. Jim's Avatar
    "Timing is never right for CIR, it does not matter if the economy is in a boom or a bust..., my guess is that CIR will be put off for a while(as expected...). Perhaps they are thinking with the high popularity of the president Hispanics can wait as long as down the road there is a promise of reform(carrot and stick), may be they will continue to support the dems and their majorities for now, after all they have waited this long what's a little bit longer? But if small reforms pass and some people get some help its better than nothing I guess, this is just more of kicking the can down the road and deal with it later!!!!!"

    You are right. There is NEVER a right time for CIR.

    Antis will always find an excuse, no matter what.

    The right time is when something is needed or needs fixing ASAP and that is NOW.

    However, I think using President Obama's popularity and current high approval ratings to delay something is not the way to go. I think it should be the other way around; tackle all the controversial and hard legislations but truly needed by the the country while he still has the high approval rating because everytime something gets delayed, the least likely it can get passed.

    That was former Pres. Bush's and former Sec. Rice's mistakes. They have repeatedly said on many interviews that not tackling CIR early, fast and hard were there biggest mistakes. Pres. Bush even said that at hindsight he should have pushed for CIR immediately after the 2004 elections and that would have been the best time to do it. BY the way, the agenda that replaced CIR instead was fixing social security and medicaid because it was deemded more impt. than CIR. There was no SS and medicaid fixes, of course and Congress became essentially the do-nothing Congress.

    Question is, does the Obama administration recognize the opportunity for their party to be the majority party for the foreseeable future and have the courage to do what is right.


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