I am often asked the question; what are the chances of getting an immigration bill passed this year? If you take the conventional answer to that question, the response would most likely be in the negative. I see very little hope in departing from this line of thinking, for the following reasons.
I know that this is the same old point that commentators make in every election year. However, history supports the position that, it is almost impossible to pass a comprehensive immigration bill in an election year.
That said; there are still bits and pieces of action taking place in DC, which are a sign that the subject is not off the table. One thing that we look forward to eagerly this month will be the decision of the Supreme Court on Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070. The law requires police officers to check the immigration status of the people they stop and whom they suspect as being illegally in the country. A federal ruling upholding the Arizona law would give the state the ability to make warrantless arrests of suspects whom law enforcement personnel reasonably suspect are removable. The legal arguments are about federal preemption of state law, but the state's political arguments lay the blame on Congress and the Obama administration. Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer, complains that her state has suffered more than most from the national problem of illegal immigration because the federal government has failed to address the problem.
Senator Marco Rubio, Florida, has been testing the waters with a new version of the Dream Act. His proposals would give legal status to students brought to the country illegally by their parents. It would not however, grant them an automatic path to citizenship. The cynics may say that this is part of the Republican strategy to soften the anti-immigration talk coming from hardliners in the party.
Also in the Senate, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is proposing a high-tech immigration bill that would tighten up the H-1B temporary visa program and change the per-country numbers of employment based green cards. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is hoping to add an E 3 visa provisions for Irish people and is said working with Grassley on the H-1B changes. That partnership has the potential to produce compromise legislation to ease some of the concerns about high-tech foreign workers.
So as always, there is no guarantee that we will see any real progress this summer. Our hope is that the work behind the scenes will not be discarded and perhaps it can be fruit in the next congress.