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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Obama Willing to Support Piecemeal Immigration Reform

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In a move that may signal real progress on the immigration reform front, President Obama indicated yesterday that he would be willing to support the House GOP's piecemeal approach to comprehensive immigration reform so long as key components are addressed in smaller bills.

He stated: "If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like." He then qualified his statement saying: "What we don't want to do is simply carve out one piece of it…but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done."

This is a very positive sign in my opinion, as the House GOP is quietly working on their own version of reform legislation. Hopefully we will see something introduced if not this year, in early 2014.

I am on record with my immigration reform solution that would immediately provide legal status to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. My solution would provide a temporary renewable status that brings people out of the shadows, protects them from deportation, and also provides employment and travel authorization so that people can lead normal lives. The status could be renewed indefinitely in the absence of disqualifying criminal grounds of removal. It would require a one-time payment of a penalty fee, and a substantially lower filing fee for renewals, which would be required every ten years.

Although there would be no independent pathway to citizenship baked in, you would not be precluded from obtaining a Green Card and ultimately citizenship through the normal channels. This solution would allow undocumented immediate relatives of United States citizens to immediately apply for a Green Card the moment they receive their status. Spouses of United States citizens would be eligible to apply for citizenship three years after they get their Green Card. It is a real path to citizenship, unlike the illusory one provide in the Senate Bill.

For this solution to work properly we need more immigrant visa numbers as well as a robust skilled and guest worker program to afford future immigrants an opportunity to come to this country legally. I have articulated this solution to GOP members of Congress and it has been received favorably.

Here's to 2014: the year of immigration reform.

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Updated 01-09-2014 at 09:23 AM by MKolken

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  1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Matt, your solutions make a lot of sense to me, and I would also like to say "Here's to 2014, the year of immigration reform."

    But we said all said the same thing about 2013, and immigration reform didn't happen this year. Why should we expect anything to change in 2014, as long as the same Tea Party controlled House Republican leadership is still around to stand in the way of reform?

    The battle over reform has never been about piecemeal vs. comprehensive; that is just a red herring. The real issue is about passing some form of relief from deportation for 11 million people or not passing it.

    I see no sign that John Boehner and the other House GOP leaders will allow legalization in any form to pass as long as the Tea Party is still calling the shots. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.

    Roger Algase
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