For several years, immigration advocates and experts have called upon the federal government to pass significant legislation to address inefficiencies and injustices in our nation's immigration system. Although many believed that reform efforts were likely to lead to substantive changes sometime soon, attempts to pass meaningful immigration legislation are appearing less and less likely in the current political climate. Despite a pronounced need for changes to the immigration system, is reform likely anytime soon?
In June of this year, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill that addressed several issues identified as critical to improving the processes by which people enter the country, apply for visas and become citizens. One of the most important provisions of the Senate bill was the creation of a process by which undocumented immigrants could apply for citizenship. In addition, the Senate proposal made it easier for some workers in key industries to receive work visas. The bill also increased border security spending, which was essential to ensuring bipartisan support of the larger reform effort.
Unfortunately, House Speaker John Boehner recently has said that he will not move forward in allowing a vote on the Senate's bill. Instead, Republican leaders are introducing multiple smaller pieces of legislation, all of which have been approved by House committees, to address important immigration topics. One House bill seeks to increase funding for immigration and border enforcement, while others make it easier for foreign workers to apply for visas. House Republicans have yet to address the issue of citizenship for undocumented immigrants, though some have said that proposed legislation is forthcoming.
Although the pace of reform has been extremely slow, Boehner has insisted that efforts to improve immigration laws are a top priority. Nevertheless, some remain skeptical and immigrant rights groups have taken to protesting outside the Capitol in an attempt to speed up the process. With midterm elections coming up in 2014, some experts are pessimistic that federal lawmakers are likely to pass any meaningful reform in the coming months.
Only time will tell what will come of House efforts to pass piecemeal immigration reform legislation. In the meantime, if you or someone you love have questions about employment visas, family visas or any other immigration topic, consider speaking with an experienced immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can help you understand your options and can explain possible next steps. For more information about how an immigration lawyer can help you, contact an attorney today.