Debates in the U.S. Senate on Immigration Reform 2012–2013
The article provides an insight into Unites States’ immigration system changes, from the times of Bill Clinton’s presidency until today, when the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has surpassed eleven million and the need to regulate immigration system is essential not only from an economic and safety but also from social point of view. Article’s contribution is an analysis of the implementation processes of new immigrant legislation in the presidential mandate of Barack Obama and an overview of the planned legislation changes that were made in the U.S. Senate. In the conclusion, we also offer a forecast of what is to expect in the field of immigration legislation, once the debate is moved to the House of Representatives.
KEY WORDS: immigration, USA, immigration legislation, illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, immigration system reform
DEBATES IN THE U.S. SENATE ON IMMIGRATION REFORM 2012–2013
The article provides an insight into Unites States’ immigration system changes, from the times of Bill Clinton’s presidency until the present, when the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has surpassed eleven million and the need to regulate the immigration system is essential not only from an economic and safety but also from social point of view. In 2006, the Clinton administration succeeded in implementing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Despite the fact that the reform introduced some very strict limitations and in particular, the possibility of the expulsion of undocumented immigrants, reality has shown that since 1996 more than a million undocumented immigrants have been expelled from the country. After the attacks on 9/11 the inflow of undocumented immigrants only grew, yet the possibilities of acquiring a US citizenship were practically slim to none (only if the US Congress had adopted a law on amnesty, similar to that of 1986). President Obama’s approach to comprehensive immigration reform was more tactical as he had largely stayed out of the immigration give-and-take, to avoid associating the bill too much with him. He was, however, joined by an extremely carefully curated group of backers, ranging from the business community to labour, law enforcement, local politics, the activist community and also a significant number of Republicans. The Senate passed a filibuster hurdle on comprehensive immigration reform 27 June 2013. But the immigration reform bill still has to go through an entire other house of Congress. In any case, it will take a lot of compromises, effort and willingness of both parties to finally pass a reform bill also approved by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. The major components of the bill are to devise a roadmap to citizenship, taking the necessary steps in the area of border and internal immigration enforcement (increased detention, deportation, and border control measures), ensuring that U.S. employers hire only workers eligible to be employed in the U.S., and setting up a streamlined process for highly skilled immigrants and immigrant family members to come to or remain in the U.S. Analysis of the implementation processes of new immigrant legislation in the presidential term of Barack Obama and an overview of the planned legislative changes that were made in the U.S. Senate also provide an understanding of spirit of the time in order to foresee what is to be expected in the field of immigration legislation once the debate is moved to the House of Representatives. It is of the utmost importance for United States to try and fix its broken immigration system and form a path to citizenship for eleven million undocumented workers.
Text is published on SLO pages.