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The end of 2014 is almost here, so let’s look forward to 2015:

What will be the effect of this immigration reform?

I believe the primary effect of President Obama’s Executive Action will be to mobilize people who are undocumented. Potentially 5 million people can apply for the different remedies provided by the Executive Action, and if the majority of them apply, this will create momentum towards permanent change. This momentum is necessary to push Congress to see the need for comprehensive reform.

Congressional action is required to take the small steps taken by Executive Action and transform them into the first steps in a real path to legal residence and citizenship. The fact is that these remedies only give undocumented foreign nationals a temporary solution, due to two major defects:

1. It doesn’t give them legal status, which means there is no path to residency or citizenship available. The Executive Action is just a band-aid that allows the undocumented to work.

2. Since they don’t have legal status, they can’t leave the country and come back. If they leave, their admissibility bar is triggered and they may be barred from returning for up to 10 years.

The following defects will also spur momentum towards a necessary comprehensive change in the law, as the following people, who do not benefit, will also voice their dissatisfaction because they are on the outside looking in:

— The people who came to the U.S. after the age of 16 and who don’t have children born here;

— People who came here after January 1, 2010.

Effect on Employment

Employers will need to modify their hiring practices. It will force them to employ more people legally as opposed to exploiting them. We are going to see a profound change in employment structures.

Employers who exploit workers as part of their business model will not continue to employ people who obtain employment authorization.  They will be looking to hire people that are not eligible for employment authorization, so we are also going to see some turnover.  The punishment for this should be elevated in order to convince employers to act ethically.  Since the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 requires employers to ascertain and confirm employee’s legal ability to work, heavy fines are the chief motivator to get people on the books.  The Executive Action, through DACA and DAPA, will allow millions of people to get employment authorization.

Turning Over the New Leaf

In order for this country to turn over a new leaf, Congress must be spurred to reactivate the discussion in the House of Representatives; the House Republicans are not taking up the Senate’s approved bill for immigration reform. Unfortunately, the impetus for that will probably more than anything be the fear of not having a Republican president in 2016, because there are not enough Latinos voting Republican. The Republicans will really come off as the bad guys when public sentiment reaches a crescendo and they say this reform is not enough.

We need a full immigration overhaul which requires comprehensive Congressional action to change the laws and foundation of our system. That’s when the Republicans will have their chance to win the voters, and they can do that by helping to pass this law in the House of Representatives. It eventually becomes law and the “band-aid” becomes a comprehensive measure that helps a lot more people.

I think that’s the reason why President Obama announced this when he did; to get the ball rolling with the hope that sometime within the calendar year of 2015, we will see action taken on comprehensive immigration reform.

There’s nothing really that can be done to overturn this Executive Action, and attempting to do so would pose more cost to the Republicans than benefit. The hope for next year is that we really do turn over a new leaf, and this Executive Action spurs the country and the people who represent us to pass the comprehensive immigration laws that we need.

To a new and better year in 2015!!

 

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