CONGRESS PLAYING POLITICS WITH IMMIGRATION LAW REFORM. According to Immigration Law expert, Eli Kantor, Congress is not serious about enacting comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year. Rather, since the midterm elections are coming in November, both parties have decided to turn immigration reform into an election year issue. Thus, instead of holding a joint House-Senate Conference Committee hearings to attempt to work out a compromise between the House "enforcement only"bill and the Senate's Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which attempts to address: border security; a temporary guest worker program and " a path to citizenship" for the estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S. , the House has decided to spend the next 2 months holding hearings in a roadshow around the country trying to drum up support for its enforcement only approach and opposition to the Senate's more comprehensive approach, branding it an amnesty in disguise. Not to be outdone, the Senate has been holding its own hearings around the country to rally support for its comprehensive approach.
In the meantime, the Democrats fearful of being labeled as "soft" on immigration by the Republicans in an election year, have pointed a finger at the Republicans, questioning what they have done about "securing the borders" and enforcing employer sanctions, during the past 6 years that they have been in control of the Presidency, the Senate and the House. Consequently, the Bush Administration has now stepped up "enforcement". This change in policy was first announce in a DHS policy memo in April. Since that time their has been a huge upsurge in raids of employers. Significantly, Immigration is taking a very aggresive approach, using multi-agency task forces, working together with the IRS, the U.S. Attorney and the Social Security Administration. They have taken the previously unheard of steps of arresting the executives of the employers for not only for knowingly employing unauthorized employees, but also charging them with harboring aliens and transporting aliens, and tax fraud for using fraudulent social security numbers and documents. They have used both civil and criminal asset forfeiture statutes to seize the employer's property. Further, there has been a huge upsurge in Social Security Administration "mismatch letters" being sent to employers, notifying them that their employee's social security numbers do not match their names.
In the meantime, States and cities in Colorado, Georgia and Pennsylvania have been encacting ordinances making it a crime to rent to illegal aliens and barring them from all public services, except emergency medical services. It appears that the Democrats have decided that rather than try to forge a compromise with the Republicans, they would be better off with no bill at all, instead of a bad bill, and keep immigration for an issue in the November elections.
However, some Democrats, most notably Senator Diane Finestein have been attempting to reach a compromise. One idea that she floated was to have comprehensive immigration reform become law in phases, with border security being enacted first. Then after the secretary of the DHS could certify to the Congress that the borders had become "secure", the guest worker and Legalization programs would come into effect thereafter.
At this time it is extremely unclear what will happen. Stay tuned to this blog for the latest information.
- Eli Kantor
- Beverly Hills, California, United States
- Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com