Immigration reform – again

Another election is over. Is it time for another crack at immigration reform?

One of the first things the President Re-elect did in his first news conference is talk with enthusiasm and optimism about comprehensive immigration reform. While that might be nice, we have all heard that before. Then again, we didn’t hear it for most of the first term, unless it was mentioned in passing, and now, the more things change, the more they remain the same. The President says he expects a bill to be introduced in Congress after his inauguration. Oh, really?

By now, a vast majority of the American public is taking a “wait and see” attitude to whether or not immigration reform will actually become a reality. In some ways, something had better transpire, or the next four years are going to be fraught with hostility from the Latin contingent, the largest group to vote him back into power. That voter surge, over 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, was largely due to the deferred action program, which was hugely popular for young illegal immigrants looking to land temporary work permits.

This story isn’t just about numbers, though. It is about an aging electorate of younger voters who stand to double the Latin voting bloc by 2030. Those up-and-coming “kids” represent an enormous voice for the future of American politics and politicians. Those who do not recognize that may pay a heavy price later. It is suspected their existing power, and future power has managed to change the GOP’s stance on immigration. It seems, if you read the news closely, that once known immigration reform bashers, such as John McCain and Rand Paul, are now cautiously flying the immigration reform flag.

Whispers on the Hill have Republicans stating they want to breach the wall of inaction and pass a bill that does something about immigration reform, instead of just talking about it – endlessly and without any resolution in sight. It also seems that reform talks, which stalled completely two years ago, have now been kick-started with participants making encouraging noises about the passage of a reform bill.

A quick peek at immigration history shows politicians today that they can learn from the lessons laid out in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act; legislation that allowed over 2.7 million people to get legal status, and made it a criminal act to hire illegal immigrants. The lesson in the 1986 legislation? The lesson is that it did nothing to stem illegal immigration, and therein lies the issue, which no one can seem to find a solution to, or agree on.

What’s in store for this term? Stay tuned, there may be some movement that finally makes sense. One can always hope.

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