2011 Will be a Tough Year for Immigrants Due to Changes in the House on the Hill

What is in store for immigration for 2011? The answer is blowing whichever way the wind is going.

New faces in new places in the House mean 2011 will bring more stalling, more confusion and more debate from scratch over CIR. Have we been there and done that? Yes, indeed we have. But it looks like we will be going there again with the latest crop of elected representatives. House control has now gone from the Democrats to the Republicans and as a result of the flip Congress’s point of view on immigration will likely go whichever way the wind prevails, politically speaking.

Where the House and Congress were once talking about helping young immigrants here illegally become legal, they are now showing signs of wanting to debate whether or not kids born to illegal immigrants should get automatic U.S. citizenship. It is enough to give you a severe case of whiplash. Where is this going? It is likely going where the GOP would like it to go for 2012 and they are hoping to snag a large share of the Latino vote to win House and Senate majority. You might want to seriously think about that development.

Things on the agenda indicate there will be legislation to test the interpretation of the 14th Amendment; the Amendment that grants citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. There are also signs that there will be a stepped up drive to force employers into using a web-based system that still has glitches in it, to E-Verify their workers are all legal. It also looks like cities that do not do their fair share of flagging people in the country illegally and dealing with them to reduce their numbers will get federal grants curbed.

And, as you already know, the DREAM Act did not get passed. None of these signposts bode well for immigration reform. It is also looking like House Republicans will come up with legislation aimed at deporting illegals back to where they came from and trying to deter anyone else from following in their footsteps. What does this all mean?

What this all means is that those Democrats still in the Senate are going to walk a thin line between CIR and harsh enforcement measures, because they want to stay on the good side of the Latino community. With that firmly fixed in their minds, they will not be able to bring anything to the floor that packs a potential wallop, like sweeping changes to immigration laws or for that matter anything that might give legal status to those already here illegally. In other words, 2011 might very well be rife with rancorous debate and not much action. Good for the news media, bad for those who badly need immigration reform.

Tucked into all of these potential machinations is one wild card – the president, who holds veto powers. However, having said that, he has also stated he wants employers to clean up their act. Accordingly, he may be in the position of power broker to come up with a deal just like he did with health care and tax cuts. He is still aiming to get the DREAM Act done.

This may all seem like smoke and mirrors and maybe it is when you consider that there were 393,000 deportations in 2010. Hardly the right thing to be doing if the idea is to make the illegals legal. Food for thought, that’s for sure.

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