President Obama put the possibility of immigration reform squarely back on the table during the State of the Union address this week.
This was scarcely a surprise. After all, the president announced immigration reform as a key second-term priority during his speech to the nation on the night he was re-elected.
What is surprising, however, are signs that the president and the House of Representatives may finally be on the verge of finding common ground on immigration reform legislation. In this post, we will discuss that new development.
The issue of reform (or lack thereof) continues to affect millions of people. By one estimate, there are more than 11 million undocumented people in the U.S.
What could happen, if President Obama and both chambers of Congress can agree, is a plan to enable undocumented people to obtain some form of legal residency. The details are yet to be worked out andgreen cards signifying permanent legal residency are likely to be a coveted commodity for some time to come.
To be sure, legal residency does not carry all of the benefits of citizenship. As democratic political theorists have long expounded, citizenship includes such key privileges as the right to vote.
Indeed, the growing voting power of legal immigrants, particularly Hispanics, is one of the drivers of the proposals for comprehensive immigration reform.
Another driver is calls from the business community for more workers, especially skilled workers. As we noted in our November 8 post, many people believe there aren’t enough H-1B visas available to meet the demands of the economy for workers with scientific and technical skills.
The good news, at least, is that immigration reform is back on the table. But of course, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Obama Open to House GOP Immigration Plan,” Laura Meckler, Jan. 31, 2014