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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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Rahm Emmanuel, the Chair of the House's Democratic Caucus, is warning that the Democrats will not have the clout to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill until at least the beginning of the second term of a Democratic presidency. That means no massive reform until the January following the 2012 elections.

Emmanuel's views are bound to disappoint many who were assuming the Democrats could push through comprehensive reform soon. It should also be sobering news to many of the members of the pro-immigration community were unwilling to accept any sort of compromise on legalization or guest worker plans on the assumption that we would have a better shot after the next election.

My sense is that the "comprehensive" in comprehensive immigration reform is dead for now. Smaller measures might have more of a chance. And that goes in both directions. We'll probably see piecemeal enforcement measures that don't try and cover the whole anti-immigration agenda and are possibly paired up with some of the more modest pro-immigration measures.


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  1. big tuna's Avatar
    The "illegal" part in comprehensive immigration reform has long been dead. Nobody wants to touch this with a ten-foot pole. Improving the situation with legals is a different story though. A lot of big companies with strong political leverage are and will continue to be lobbying for variants of the SKIL bill.
  2. jay's Avatar
    I think big companies are only interested in h1-b program. I dont think they are interested in getting green cards or citizenships for individuals. I think its better for all of us not to seperate the less fortunate immigrants as "illegal" unless their crime is something more than trying to earn a living in a prosperous country.
  3. olu's Avatar
    The Immigration Activist was deported. Not sure if you've seen this.
  4. olu's Avatar
    Sorry, I forgot to include the link:,0,2807821.story
  5. Calouste's Avatar

    Big companies (although probably not the outsourcing companies) are interested in getting green cards and citizenships for individuals. Hiring someone from abroad is a six-figure investment for most big companies, who provide good relocation benefits, and they would like not to see that go to waste within 6 years.
  6. Anonymous's Avatar
    I think Democrats will gain more seats - in both houses. Too early to tell who will be President - but it looks like that may be a Democrat also.

    It's the Democrat's election to lose. It will take a scandal (or huge misstep) for the Republicans to gain power.

    That said, immigration reform probably won't happen any time soon. We'll probably get more enforcement provisions. If you get your H-1b hike or SKIL bill, I can guarantee that we will get protections attached to it (such as limits on outsourcing firms, stronger definitions of prevailing wages, closing loopholes, and increased enforcement). Think Durbin/Grassley amendment + the SKIL bill. It will be some combination of the two.

    We'll see who wins the most. I'm betting labor groups will because it is election season and we vote/donate/blog. Sorry Bill Gates.
  7. USC's Avatar
    That is what I heard (about a month ago) from my Congressional source, as well. Re the piecemeal approach, here is what I was told:

    DREAM Act: Won't pass Senate
    AgJobs: 60 votes present in Senate. Will pass Senate, however, will fail in the House
    Increased H1b Visas/SKIL: Won't pass Senate
    Amnesty for illegals: Dead till 2009.

    Now, I disagree with Emmanuel to the extent that I believe that another attempt will be made in 2009 rather than 2013. It seems likely that Hillary Clinton will be our next President. Now, those of us who live in the Empire State have gotten to know her pretty well and her instict will be not to undertake CIR in her first term. Emannuel is right to that extent. However, not for nothing is she known as the Senator from Punjab (sic) and she did sponsor the GC amendment to the CIR Bill for spouses and children of Green Carders. Her campaign chair is Senator Menandez who fought for the FB categories during the CIR debate. So, my guess is that she might re-visit CIR but might only address issues that concern legal immigrants.

  8. drew from immigrants list's Avatar
    Rahm Emanuel may not want to touch it, but that doesn't mean a new President won't. Yes, right now he is one of the most powerful people in Congress, but if there is a Democratic President, it'll be up to what they make a priority.

    If the Presidential candidate says I want to get this done in my first term (like Obama did at the La Raza's Conference), then the party will need to follow suit or else seem disorganized & disunited.

    Other than some smaller pieces such as DREAM Act, I don't see the Dems passing comprehensive and not dealing with the 12 million illegal immigrants who are already here. They need to cement the support of the growing latino community & win the support of many small business owners who feel they are currently stuck between a rock & a hard place when it comes to hiring illegal workers.
  9. USC's Avatar
    "but that doesn't mean a new President won't."

    I agree completely. Our next President is likely to be from the following list:

    (a) Rudy "LooseCannon" Giuliani
    (b) John McCain
    (c) Mitt Romney
    (d) Barack Obama
    (e) Hillary Clinton
    (f) John Edwards

    Barack & McCain (not withstanding his back-tracking) are likely to be great for CIR, however, they are also NOT likely to win. The less said about Giuliani and Romney, the better. Now, contrast Clinton's statement with Obama's at the La Raza conference and it is clear she will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the CIR party!
  10. Beppe's Avatar
    any news about extending the deadline for the 245(i)??
  11. Beppe's Avatar
    ps In Janaury everybody was pretty sure about the CIR on the desk of the president...,
  12. USC's Avatar
    "any news about extending the deadline for the 245(i)??"

    I will find out the next time I am chatting with the person who passed me the other information. It won't be till sometime next month.
  13. Dream Act guy's Avatar
    My congressional source says this (much more recent than a month ago):

    Dream Act will pass Senate as attachment
    Agjobs will pass Senate as part of farm bill, can skip House
    H1b increases- pass for nurses/phys ther(as recaptured visas). but not for other workers
    CIR/path to legalization- at least till 2009 with new Congress and President
  14. TX's Avatar
    The only person who would be willing to tackle immigration in 2009 would be Giuliani. I don't believe he's as anti-immigrant as he's making himself out to be. His idea of "getting a tamper resistant card" for every immigrant in this country, as part of his border security program is code word for legalization, I really strongly believe that. Legalization might mean no path to citizenship under Giuliani, but it would mean accounting for every undocumented. At the same time, he probably would include some reforms in legal immigration as well. A Democrat president would not even touch this issue till 2013 which might be a gamble because they might lose the Hispanic base during re-election. Next few years would be interesting as far as immigration is concerned.
  15. USC's Avatar
    "My congressional source says this (much more recent than a month ago):"

    I hope your source is right and mine wrong!

    "Agjobs will pass Senate as part of farm bill, can skip House"

    The House passed the farm bill in July with a 40 vote margin, IIRC. If the Senate, attaches AgJobs to the Farm Bill (which Reid kind of seems willing to go along with despite strong opposition from Chambliss) it would still have to be conferenced. So, I guess your source thinks AgJobs would survive conference.

  16. USC's Avatar
    "The only person who would be willing to tackle immigration in 2009 would be Giuliani. I don't believe he's as anti-immigrant as he's making himself out to be."

    As someone who is extremely familiar with Giuliani I can tell you flatly that Giuliani is not going to be in favor of legalization (ie path to citizenship). Rudy is a former US attorney; his mindset is to prosecute the illegals for breaking the law. It would be a giant leap for him to support anything which he construes to be amnesty.

    "His idea of "getting a tamper resistant card" for every immigrant in this country, as part of his border security program is code word for legalization"

    No. It is a code word for requiring every American to carry a Nazi style national ID card. His attitude is I don't mind carrying an ID, I have nothing to hide, if you are a law abiding citizen you shouldn't either!! Part of being a prosecutor.

    As a New Yorker, I might add that Rudy's popularity in NYC on 9/10/01 mirrored where Junior is now. He was considered a failed mayor. His performance on 9/11/01 was outstanding, more so because Junior decided to go into hiding. That said if he were eligible for re-election he would have lost the mayorship. What New Yorker's know the rest of the country will find out as the campaign unfolds, that Rudy won't be a good President. In fact, if he were the Republican nominee he wouldn't carry his home state under any circumstances. The last time that happened, Greg's state was the culprit, which of course led to the infamous intervention by SCOTUS in the landmark case, Bore v Gore!

  17. Another Voice's Avatar
    Sounds like the dems want to tie the passage of CIR with a guarantee of them staying in power and majority until its less politically risky for them. This is terrible unfortunatly the other option to voting republican is not even an option. Sounds to me like a lot of people will choose Canada as their immigrationn destination instead of the US.
  18. TX's Avatar
    USC, you're probably right, I don't live in NY so don't know much about how he did there. All I know is whenever he is asked about undocumented, he states that we cannot deport everyone and that we need to look at the situation and identify all the undocumented, that is why I think he will offer some sort of legalization short of citizenship, maybe just a temporary visa or something. What are your thoughts on Fred Thompson? I don't know much about his stance on immigration. Romney scares the heck out of me, and even if I didn't care about immigration he would still scare me with his switching position every other month.

    Even though I favor a Democrat for president next year, I don't know if that will happen. Democrats just don't seem to have that much enthusiasm to go out and vote as much as the Republicans do. I could be wrong.
  19. beppe's Avatar
    Hi USC,
    thank you for your interest. Please send an e-mail to Greg if you have some news.
    Thank you again.
    PS i live in NYC too, and i agree on your opinion about GIuliani
  20. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Guys, appreciate your analysis and forecast. What I think is missing here is expected "big picture" changes that will impact the policies to a huge degree.

    1) Baby boomers going to Mexico to retire in droves. That creates jobs in Mexico and keeps people there. May even result in a good number of bilingual Amercians moving there to work in expat enclaves.

    2) Mexican economy growing at a healthy rate. Just this factor alone will reduce influx of Mexican workers by half in 5 years.

    3) Other countries stepping up their efforts to attract immigrant workers, particularly, skilled workers. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are already doing it, European countries are expected to increase the effort in the next few years.

    4) Economic growth in India and China (that's 45% of world's population) have already increased the wages dramatically, and will further result in keeping more people employed and happy there.

    5) Baby boomers (oldest are 61 now) will start drawing on SS and Medicare - and there is not enough workers to fill the void and government coffers, too. Bernarke says, US will need 3 to 4 milliion immigrants to help out with the situation. He is a conservative, you know.

    As I always said, too many people trying to come to your country is a good problem to have. Wait till people start leaving, and you will know what I mean. Empty storefronts, abandoned houses, all sorts of degradation. All things point that if the policy does not change in the next 5 years, the US will be hit hard just by zero population growth. NumbersUSA, beware what you wish for, it may actually come true. Add to that a continously falling value of the dollar, and voila, the policy change may be in effect a lot earlier than you think, and it will be a lot more liberal.
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