What’s Doing on the Immigration Reform Front

Immigration seems to have taken a back seat to health reform, but that has not stopped the town hall meetings across the nation to sell comprehensive immigration reform and health reform.

There’s a whole lot going on in America today including health care and comprehensive immigration reform. It’s likely not too much of a surprise to see that both reforms are not going to happen according to the timelines first proposed. Immigration reform was to be by Labor Day 2009. That isn’t going to happen now until possibly 2010 – if then. There are many more miles to go on that package before anything concrete and workable will make its way into legislation.

Along with town hall meetings being held by U.S. Senators on comprehensive immigration reform, there are also get-togethers to discuss health care reform. This is just as urgent as immigration, and in fact has seemingly derailed immigration reform for now. There is no doubt that the stakes are very high in both of these areas, not to mention that many Americans are being militantly vocal about the proposed reforms on both fronts. This isn’t to say they don’t see the need for changes to immigration or health care, but change in any form after this long is something to be disparaged and feared.

A quick look into the rooms where immigration meetings are being held reveal that two of the largest U.S. labor unions (AFL-CIO and Change to Win) are diligently working to sell union members on the benefits of a joint statement demanding immigration reform. Things aren’t going so well, particularly when the issue of guest workers comes up.

Many local labor unions view the recent suggested changes to implement comprehensive immigration reform as taking several steps backward in the areas of employer sanctions and guest worker programs. The statement that both large labor unions want to issue calls for no new guest worker programs, insisting that employment based visas be only determined by an independent commission making use of current labor market data, and that workers would have permanent visas. This would then wipe out the guest worker programs – in theory.

On the other side of the fence is the attitude that unionized workers don’t want to back guest worker programs and would rather they didn’t exist at all. Many unions do hold that position and are staunchly against them. The intrinsic problem with the “statement” that the labor unions want everyone to get behind is that it also puts out a strong call for the government to allocate “employment” visas (temporary and permanent) and that this task should be given to an independent commission. The specter of who would control and allocate what looms large in the minds of many with concerns about immigration reform and how this would apply to immigrants in the workforce.

Even more interesting is the fact that there was at one time a guest worker program, where you had to work to stay in the country, back in the early 60s. It ended because there was no real way to monitor it. Monitoring is crucial when it comes to employers hiring an immigrant without proper work authorization. The question of sanctions then becomes fairly critical as well.

Will labor get on the same page with government to institute reforms? It’s a pertinent question and perhaps just the tip of the iceberg of the many things that need to be changed in order to see any changes in the current systems that are disintegrating.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more about immigration lawyer in miami, immigration lawyer in orlando, immigration lawyer in florida, visit Rifkinandfoxisicoff.com.