Immigration Reform Appears to be Alive and Well and Even Gaining Momentum.

By: Joseph G. Cella, Esq.

Recently, with the budget, debt ceiling and government shutdown taking center stage in the mainstream media, immigration reform seemed to fade away from main-stream-America’s attention. In fact over the past several months, when we have seen immigration headlines, they have read like obituaries of immigration reform, like “Immigration Reform Heads for a Slow Death,” and “RIP: Immigration Reform Bill is Dead.,” However, those of us who study, understand and care about immigration reform are aware that such headlines are simply not accurate.

For example, as of October 30, 2013, there are now three House Republicans who have endorsed the House Democrat comprehensive reform bill, officially “resurrecting” immigration reform. In addition to the most recent GOP Rep. David Valadao of California, to officially sign onto the bipartisan bill, Reps. Leana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Jeff Denham of California. Rep. Denham has recently said that he expects more House Republicans to ultimately sign onRep. Denham has also said that the House Republican leadership has told him that there will be a vote on “something immigration-related’ by the end of the year.

Immigration and The Affordable Care Act

With regard to the concern that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) may use information provided by undocumented immigrants to apply for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) to enforce immigration laws, last week ICE issued a clarification stressing that, although undocumented aliens are not eligible for care under the ACA, any information provided by such aliens in applying for health insurance will not trigger immigration enforcement. In other words, eligible members of families with undocumented individuals may now seek coverage under the ACA without fear of placing some family members at risk of deportation.

State Trends and Immigration Law

At the state level, anti immigration sentiment and legislation seem to be giving way to more moderate immigration stances. Specifically, this week the State of Alabama agreed not to pursue key provisions of it’s 2011 “Show Me Your Papers Law”, HB 56. The agreement is part of a settlement of lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and a coalition of civil rights groups opposed to HB 56.

Immigration Reform and the Economy

There is a growing consensus among Republicans and Democrats that immigration reform would stimulate the U.S economy. Not only would legalization increase wages and the purchasing power of newly-legalized foreign, it would result in increased tax Social Security revenues. In fact, a a new Bipartisan Policy Center study shows that comprehensive immigration reform could boost our country’s lethargic economic recovery.

In direct contradiction to some anti-reform advocates who argue that immigration reform would take jobs away from able-bodied Americans and drive wages down, the report found that over the next 20 years, immigration reform would increase the country’s economic growth by 4.8 percent, while reducing the country’s deficits by $1.2 trillion, as a result of young, working immigrants filling jobs and paying taxes.

While speaking on a panel about the study, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Network , a center-right policy advocacy group, and the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said immigration reform is “good policy” and therefore, “good politics”. “If you want to be on the right side of the paramount issue, you want to be on the right side of immigration”.

Conclusion

Republicans have begun looking for ways to appeal to Latino voters at all levels of government, and it is no secret that immigration reform is a top priority among our Latin populations. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, rather than being dead, comprehensive immigration reform appears to be alive and well and even gaining momentum.

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