Ten Years of Immigration Reform Planning Might Have Been in Vain


Immigration reform got a fairly good working over by George W. Bush. Times were exciting and things looked like they may be different.

Flash forward to 2011 and what we now have when it comes to CIR is a lot of vague “maybes.” It is not that there are not good ideas and good intentions, it is just that, well, those intentions seem to have been derailed and side-tracked again.

Ten years ago everyone wanted to work together and get immigration reform done and call it a day. When Obama was elected, everyone wanted to work together and get immigration reform done and call it a day. In both instances, while there was a lot of thunder and lightning and lots of rhetoric, nothing happened because politics got in the way.

In other words, things just did not go well for anyone. Sure, the policy got booted around the block a lot of times. Each time it came back with more suggestions, revisions, questions and revolutionary ideas. But, nothing was done but talk about it. The existing laws withered on the vine, grew cumbersome to administer and more complex with each passing year. They were not even functional and the public and those affected by the immigration laws got worried about the future of immigration; worried that there was no future.

Then the inevitable began to happen, the discussions turned sour and became old news because everyone had heard it all before. Various camps started forming and people no longer worked together for the greater good. They became a great divide, once again, in what to do about immigration reform. Still, the words are being mouthed, but the actions to back up the words are curiously absent.

Consider this for example. In December, the Congress took a crack at some pretty heavy-duty issues and even managed to settle on compromises for tax issues, arms control and gays in the military. Nice icing on the cake. But what happened to the DREAM Act? It was deadlocked and went nowhere. Great debate. No results. As you may know, the DREAM Act is aimed at the young adults who arrived here as kids and who are now in the military or college.

It was supposed to be the first in a series of steps to help illegal immigrant become an accepted and legal part of the nation’s fabric. Nine times out of 10, it was also generally paired up with a bill aimed at agricultural workers and things were looking pretty good. When the bill came forward it came to the table as a last minute squeaker with a snowballs chance in a hot spot of getting passed. The bill’s debate got a boatload of people riled up into a frenzy of excited anticipation and then; then nothing happened. Another stalemate.

All around us people are immigrating daily. The numbers are increasing as you read this. Millions of others have come and settled here and become part of the American cultural quilt. But now, just about 25 percent of foreign-born residents are here illegally. If they want to be legal, they can count on a long battle to get there. In the meantime, thing keep changing. Communities demographics keep changing and people want some action. There is no action and the immigration system was last tinkered with in 1965. When will we move forward? Good question. Anyone have any answers?

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 http://www.rifkinandfoxisicoff.com.