Are US immigration law changes finally underway? After months of debate, the Senate has passed an immigration reform bill. While this is progress, it is not necessarily indicative of impending change. Why? Well before the immigration reform bill can become law, the bill must pass the House of Representatives, where it is put to debate and a vote. Although it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen, there are three potential stumbling blocks that could stop the bill from passing the next stage.
Potential Barriers to US Immigration Law Changes
1. Incompatible views on the ‘path to citizenship’
The pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants continues to generate controversy over the proposed changes to US immigration law. Supporters of the bill see a pathway to citizenship as a way to boost the US economy; illegal immigrants can become taxpayers and invest in their communities. The opposing view is that a pathway is like granting a reprieve, and might result in an increased number of illegal immigrants. These divisive viewpoints have been a major hurdle to passing the immigration reform bill.
2. Most Republicans are still opposed to the bill
The bill in question is a bipartisan bill, passed by a Senate with a Democratic majority. The House of Representatives, on the other hand, is Republican-led, and according to the latest reports in the Washington Post, many Republicans do not support the proposed changes to US immigration law. “Here is a fact,” said Republican Senator John McCain, “We are not winning.” McCain was one of the co-authors who put together the bill, and recognizes that the next challenge may lie in garnering Republican support in the House. Furthermore, the recent battles over the new healthcare system have caused some Republicans to be wary of the President’s ability to enforce a new US immigration law. Democrats and Republican supporters are working to build support for the immigration bill, but whether the push is successful remains to be seen.
3. Unresolved border control issues
In 1986, President Ronald Regan signed an Amnesty Bill into law. This bill was intended to provide legal status for certain immigrants and increase border control. Many of the strict regulations regarding border control were not actually implemented, due to a lack of funding and weak enforcement. Many opponents of the proposed changes to current US immigration law believe that the 1986 bill weakened our system, and the new changes could do the same. However, immigration has changed dramatically since 1986, and immigration reform supporters hope that we have learned from our past mistakes. In theory, measures have been put in place to avoid a repeat of 1986, but not everyone is convinced.