While media attention has focused on the border crisis involving large numbers of unaccompanied children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the larger issue of immigration reform continues to stagnate in the nation’s Capital as the political parties continue to use the issue of immigration as a political football. Despite the urgency of the issue, Congress continues to be incapable of reaching the type of agreement on comprehensive immigration reform envisioned by the earlier Senate bill.
With the issue of funding to address the border crisis as a catalyst, there was action in both the House and Senate last week related to immigration. Senate Democrats took up the President’s request for emergency supplemental funding, but faced significant Republican opposition and were unable to pass their version of the bill. In the House, in what was viewed as a largely symbolic move, Republicans were not only able to craft a supplemental bill for a significantly lower amount than requested by the White House, but they also crafted a bill to end the current DACA program. Consequently, both House bills have no chance of advancing.
President Obama has indicated that he does not have the funding he needs to continue operations on the border and Congress is now in recess. The issue of funding will be brought back after the recess, when the stakes will be even higher due to the looming end of the fiscal year on September 30th. All appropriations bills, not only those related to immigration, must be finished in September.
As Congress has been incapable of passing any legislation touching on immigration, the President has indicated that he will take action on his own as soon as the end of this summer. Possible administrative actions mentioned include an expansion of the DACA program and stopping deportations except for persons with serious criminal offenses. This threat of administrative action by Obama has caused a great deal of controversy among Republicans in Congress, some of whom have even mentioned bringing Presidential impeachment proceedings as a result.
In the meantime, the U.S. immigration crisis continues to worsen. The border crisis, broadly viewed as a humanitarian refugee crisis involving children fleeing violence, has brought the issue of immigration back to the forefront. Beyond the border, the lack of immigration reform has become an ongoing critical problem in the U.S. Families are forcibly separated on a daily basis by our government for minor immigration infractions. Concerns about inhumane treatment and conditions for detained persons and outrageous actions by Border Patrol agents continue.
Our nation’s immigration issues also touch on the U.S. economy. For the business community, the lack of immigration reform continues to stifle the creation of new businesses and to threaten existing businesses’ ability to grow and operate in the U.S. The lack of options available for persons seeking to start a business in the U.S, the extremely limited number of visas for professional workers, the arbitrary adjudications in several of the nonimmigrant visa categories, the extreme backlogs for employment-based applicants for permanent residence, and the virtual absence of any type of visa for lower-skilled workers are all issues that highlight the ongoing need for a comprehensive immigration reform that includes employment-based immigration.
While politicians use immigration for political purposes, the country’s need for immigration reform is greater than ever. Until our elected representatives are willing to put politics aside for the good of the country, families, businesses, and individuals will be left to suffer the consequences of inaction.
Please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Minsky McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. if you have questions regarding immigration reform or your own immigration case.