Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update
, 06-27-2009 at 03:11 PM (1615 Views)
On June 25, President Obama met with a bipartisan group of 30 key legislators beginning a dialogue that he hopes will lead to comprehensive immigration reform in 2009 or early in 2010.
Among the topics discussed were border security, family reunification and reform of the outdated quota system.
Following the meeting, the President stated, "but what I'm encouraged by is that after all the overheated rhetoric and the occasional demagoguery on all sides around this issue, we've got a responsible set of leaders sitting around the table who want to actively get something done and not put it off until a year, two years, three years, five years from now, but to start working on this thing right now."
With regard to the USCIS, the President stated:
"Today I'm pleased to announce a new collaboration between my Chief Information Officer, my Chief Performance Officer, my Chief Technologies Officer and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office to make the agency much more efficient, much more transparent, much more user-friendly than it has been in the past.
In the next 90 days, USCIS will launch a vastly improved Web site that will, for the first time ever, allow applicants to get updates on their status of their applications via e-mail and text message and online. And anybody who's dealt with families who are trying to deal with -- navigate the immigration system, this is going to save them huge amounts of time standing in line, waiting around, making phone calls, being put on hold. It's an example of some things that we can do administratively even as we're working through difficult issues surrounding comprehensive immigration.
And the idea is very simple here: We're going to leverage cutting-edge technology to reduce the unnecessary paperwork, backlogs, and the lack of transparency that's caused so many people so much heartache."
President Obama also announced that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano will chair a working group composed of Representatives and Senators to hash out some of thorniest issues. Among these issues are how to legalize 12 million undocumented persons, border security, cracking down on unscrupulous employers, creation of a "guest worker" program and whether a governmental commission should be established to decide the future immigration of temporary and permanent workers based on labor market needs.
Unions are opposed to a guest worker program and in favor of a commission while business groups would like to see a guest worker program but are opposed to a governmental commission.
Senator McCain (R-AZ), a key player stated that "we don't need a commission" and called on the President to stand up to labor unions and support a guest worker program.
Several persons close to President Obama including his Press Secretary and his Chief of Staff have asserted that there are not enough votes in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. And at least one strong proponent of immigration reform, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), agrees. "If we had the votes, we wouldn't be calling you", Gutierrez told the Wall Street Journal.
However, in the Senate, both the Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY) believe that there are enough votes in their chamber to pass the legislation. The Senate passed the bipartisan Kennedy-McCain immigration bill in 2006. However, the House did not take up the measure.
"We've got one more chance to do this," said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). "If we fail this time around, no politician is going to take this up in a generation."
President Obama stated, "It's going to require some heavy lifting."
We link to a video of President Obama's remarks at the conclusion of the June 25th meeting as well as to the transcript of his remarks from our "Immigration Legislation" page at
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