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Immigration Reform Is Top Priority in 2014

The House of Representatives wrapped up its affairs for 2013 without passing an immigration reform bill. This despite the continued and intensified protests of immigration advocates to pressure the House to vote on an immigration bill before it closed its 2013 legislative calendar.

More than 1,000 advocates showed up at the House last December 12 and occupied for about an hour the offices of more than 200 Republican lawmakers. Advocacy groups held marches, prayer vigils, and completed a week-long fast with several members of Congress joining the fast for 24 hours, to show their support.

Advocates were hoping to pressure Speaker John A. Boehner to bring to a vote a democratic bill in the House which mirrors the Senate’s and offers a path to citizenship to the 12 million undocumented in the country. The bill has 190 sponsors including three Republicans. The chairman of the Democratic caucus Congressman Becerra of California said that 26 Republicans had expressed support for that bill which would be enough to pass it if Speaker Boehner allowed a vote.

Although immigration reform did not materialize in 2013, many remain confident that a compromise will be reached in 2014. Democratic and Republican House leaders promised that they will address the issue early next year. According to Republican Congressman Robert W. Goodlatte (VA), chair of the Judiciary Committee, immigration would be top priority in 2014.

Speaker Boehner also deems immigration as a priority legislation in the new year. Michael Needham, chief executive of the conservative advocacy group Heritage Action said in an interview that the speaker wants to clear the way for immigration reform next year and he has been very clear of that. Speaker Boehner even hired immigration policy expert Rebecca Tallent to lead his team.

The budget deal that was struck between House Republicans and Senate Democrats is also seen as a positive sign for immigration reform in 2014. The bipartisan budget deal rids threats of fiscal crises such as government shutdown for the next two years and will allow lawmakers to address major issues in the agenda including immigration reform.

The staunch opposition of the majority of House Republicans to the proposed pathway to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country, however, remains the biggest challenge.

Republican Congressman David Valadao (R-Cal.) and Jeff Denham, (R-Cal.) are pushing their Republican colleagues to sign a letter supporting immigration reform. They are looking to present the letter to Speaker Boehner in January. It is hoped that Boehner’s passing the bipartisan budget deal is evidence that he might also be willing to support an immigration bill that is not supported by the majority of the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, immigration advocates indicated that their protests will intensify next year. Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s voice said that “Reform is a matter of when, not if.” With House leaders signifying that immigration legislation is top priority next year, the growing support from the American people and the unwavering determination of advocates, 2014 looks to be a promising year for immigration reform.

Immigration Reform Still Possible This Year

With the recent government shutdown and the self-inflicted beating the Republican-controlled House of Representatives experienced resulting from it, many are wondering whether there is still hope for immigration reform this year.

The President announced immediately after the government shutdown ended the urgent need to pass a law fixing the broken immigration system. Although opposition from Republican House members continue to stall the reform bill, using the “shutdown loss” as more reason to be “less than willing” to support it, GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida indicated in an interview that there are still House Republicans who are working out a solution to legalizing the 11 million undocumented in the country.

The proposed solution involves a piecemeal approach where House Republicans could pass a separate measure dealing with border security and later on pass another measure placing the 11 million on probationary status. The legalization, however, can only move forward if E-verify is operational after five years. The goal, according to Rep. Diaz-Balart, is to command the support of a majority of Republicans.

Also, Republican House members who support reform believe that they can bring together a majority of Republican caucus to pass certain bills, thus, moving the debate to a committee of House and Senate negotiators who could try to negotiate on a comprehensive package. The final deal will ultimately address the problem of the undocumented.

So far, measures involving border security and making it easier for high-skilled workers and farm laborers to get visas have won the support of many House Republicans. The House Judiciary Committee has approved bills which address single issues on immigration but none dealing with legalization of the undocumented.

Democrat House members, on the other hand, remain firm in demanding a vote on a comprehensive reform bill similar to that passed in the Senate. According to Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, 28 Republicans have expressed their support for a path to citizenship.

Meanwhile, leaders of business, labor unions and religious organizations joined forces on October 29 to pressure the House to pass the immigration reform bill. The concerted lobbying effort involved over 600 leaders and focused on 150 Republican House members from 40 states. Sponsors included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Immigration Forum,, a political action group set up by Silicon Valley executives including the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Partnership for a New American Economy, led jointly by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Marriot Jr.

House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia expressed their support to pass their own version of the immigration bill this year. When asked whether the House can still act on immigration reform despite the fact that it has only four legislative weeks left, Speaker Boehner said, “I still think immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed. And I am hopeful.”

As GOP-Rep. David Valadao of California pointed out, “If anybody has the power to bring it to a vote it’s him,” referring to Rep. Cantor who sets the House Calendar.

The immigration system is broken and ignoring it is not good for the country. Many studies have shown that comprehensive immigration reform would expand the nation’s economy. With the intense lobbying efforts and pressure from all sectors of society, we hope that the GOP-controlled House finally address the problem and pass the immigration reform bill this year.

Fight for Immigration Reform Gains Momentum

Tens of thousands of people joined the demonstrations and rallies held in 150 sites nationwide last October 5 to pressure Congress to pass the immigration reform bill. Advocates dubbed the day, the “National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect.”

The protests took place in over 40 states. In the State of California alone, demonstrations were held in 21 cities. The larger rallies took place in Los Angeles, San Diego and Boston. In New York, the march started in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. Many of the rallies were conducted before the offices of House Republican lawmakers.

Part of the “major show of force” was the concert and march for immigration reform held on October 8 where thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Multi-Grammy award winner, Los Tigres del Norte and artist Lila Downs performed during the concert. More than 150 protesters, including 8 House members, were arrested for civil disobedience.

Immigrant advocates remain hopeful that immigration reform will pass as House Democrats initiated measures to put pressure on the Republican majority. On October 2, Minority leader Representative Nancy Pelosi of California introduced their own version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill which mirrors that of the Senate-approved bill on major points. Pelosi said that there were enough Democrats and Republicans in the House to pass the bill.

The House Democrats’ immigration plan includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented; however, it does not include the border security measures which helped win over many conservative Republicans in the Senate. In place of the proposed border security measures, it would require the Department of Homeland Security to map out a plan to ensure the arrest of 90% of illegal crossers across the entire southern border within 5 years.

Although at present, no Republican member is a sponsor of the bill, this still comes as good news to advocates especially since the bipartisan House group’s efforts to come up with the bill failed last month. Representative Pelosi challenged Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to put the immigration bill for a vote on the floor this year.

Several House Republican leaders have indicated that “passing comprehensive immigration reform remains a top Republican priority.” Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers who chairs the House Republican Conference said despite the government shutdown, her party is still committed to “rewrite the nation’s immigration laws.”

Meantime, a number of smaller immigration bills are expected to move onto the House floor in late October or early November. The bills already approved in the Judiciary Committee level involve enforcement and visas for highly skilled workers.

While Congress continues to refuse to act on the immigration reform bill, California has adopted a number of bills expanding immigrant rights. Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law the Trust Act which restricts federal agents from detaining undocumented immigrants who are non-criminals or minor offenders. He also signed the bill allowing qualified undocumented immigrants to become licensed attorneys as well as the bill allowing the issuance of driver’s license to the undocumented.

With unceasing and intensified efforts, nationwide campaigns, and growing support even within the Republican party, advocates are hopeful that the comprehensive immigration reform bill will be passed by the end of the year.

Immigration Reform Needed to Address Nursing Shortage

The nursing profession is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. The number of employed registered nurses is expected to grow 26% from 2010 to 2020, making it the top occupation in terms of job growth. Licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses are expected to increase 22%. Even during the economic downturn, 182,000 RNs were employed.

The high demand for nurses and healthcare workers in general can be attributed to the growing and aging population. By 2025, there will have been 50 million more Americans than there were in 2006, and every day for the next twenty years 10,000 Americans will reach 65 years. By year 2020, four out of every ten patient visits will be by baby boomers.

Because of the aging baby boom generation, the demand for healthcare will continue to grow at a high rate, so much so that by 2030 the U.S. is projected to have a shortage of more than 900,000 nurses. The Affordable Care Act law will further raise the demand as the law expands insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans by 2014.

The increase in nursing school enrolment is at best only modest and far from sufficient to meet the demand. In 2011, the increase was only a little over 5%. At the same time, however, the average age of nurses has gone up and more and more nurses are nearing retirement age. It is predicted that nurses over 50 years old will soon comprise about a quarter of the entire RN population.

Given the magnitude of the shortfall and the imminence of the surge in demand, domestic measures will no longer be sufficient to avert the shortage. Immigration rules that have been in place specifically to restrict the entry of foreign-educated nurses must be changed in order to ensure that patient care is not compromised.

For instance, most RNs do not qualify for the H-1B visa for “specialty occupations” because employers generally do not require a bachelor’s degree for the position. To be eligible for H-1B classification, an RN would have to be in a supervisory or very specialized position.

The limited number of immigrant visas and long waiting times have also contributed to the deficit of qualified nurses. Most foreign nurses are eligible for classification under the employment-based third preference (EB-3) category for skilled workers. However, under EB-3 an employer would have to wait between five to more than ten years before a visa becomes available to its sponsored nurse.

The visa retrogression has undeniably hampered the recruitment of much needed healthcare workers from foreign countries, including the Philippines. For the past six years since the retrogression began, thousands of qualified nurses have simply been waiting for their priority dates to reach the cut-off for visa availability under the EB-3 category.

Unsurprisingly, not all of them end up pursuing their visa application. Some of them have simply been discouraged by the delay, while some are lured by equally promising professional opportunities in other countries. The U.S. therefore loses the benefit of their skills and talent.

While immigration rules remain restrictive and recruitment of foreign nurses is sought to be kept at a minimum, patients face increasingly longer wait times in understaffed hospitals or are placed in the care of overworked nurses. Urgent action in reforming immigration law is needed to ensure that the health of millions of Americans is not endangered.

Ease Visa Rules to Avert Physician Shortage

More and more Americans are getting older and requiring more care. It is estimated that by year 2030, one in every five Americans will be at least 65 years old and by year 2020, four out of every ten patient visits will be by baby boomers. The U.S. population is also expected to grow by more than 50 million by year 2025.

In the midst of this growing and graying of the population, studies project a shortage of 125,000 doctors by year 2025. Meanwhile, almost half of the country’s physicians are at least 50 years of age. Since the education and training of a physician takes more than ten years, higher medical school enrolment will not be enough to ensure an adequate supply of doctors.

The U.S. has relied on international medical graduates (IMGs) to help meet its healthcare needs. At present, over a quarter of the nation’s physicians are IMGs who come from127 countries, most of whom were originally from India, the Philippines and Mexico.

To become a U.S. physician, an IMG faces a lengthy and complicated process that is fraught with uncertainty. Aside from having to pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examinations and be certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the IMG must complete a graduate medical education (GME) program in the U.S.

The IMG must be “matched” to his desired program, which could be very competitive depending on the field of medical specialty. Residency programs usually take anywhere from three to eight years. Furthermore, the IMG must obtain a license from the state medical board of his employing hospital. But before an IMG can join a residency program, unless he is a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen he must be in a visa category that allows employment or training.

The immigration aspect of IMG recruitment carries with it a long history of restrictive regulations. Immigration policy was initially favorable to migration of IMG’s but things later changed and immigration rules were adopted that hampered the recruitment of many talented IMGs. Perhaps, herein lies the key to meeting the looming shortage of doctors.

For instance, the J-1 visa for exchange visitors, which is used widely used by IMGs to join residency programs, requires the IMG to depart the U.S. for two years upon the completion of his GME, or obtain a waiver of the requirement.

Compliance with the 2-year home residence rule is needed before the IMG can apply for permanent residence or change or adjust his status to another work-authorized non-immigrant status such as H-1B. The home residence requirement applies even if the IMG is eligible for an immigrant visa through marriage to a U.S. citizen.

The IMG can try to get a waiver from an interested federal government agency or a state health department or agency under a program which allows 30 waivers to be issued to IMGs annually. This is called the Conrad 30 program and it has come to be the source of 90% of waivers obtained by IMGs.

To be granted a waiver, the IMG generally would be required to work at an underserved geographic area and in a primary care specialty. Even then, given the limitation on the number of waivers under the Conrad 30 program, unless the number of waivers is increased or the home residence requirement is altogether eliminated, thousands of IMGs wishing to practice permanently after their GME will continue to face uncertainty and deal with the possibility of gong back to their home countries after years of valuable U.S. training.

The immigration reform bill now pending in the Senate contains several provisions that would end the current restrictions and make it easier for IMGs to become lawful permanent residents. Hopefully, they will be passed.

Despite Opposition, Immigration Reform Likely to Pass This Year

The introduction of the comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate has spurred many conservative radio talk show hosts to agitate the American public to denounce the bill. They particularly harp on the proposed pathway to citizenship as “pure amnesty” and “nothing more than a reward” for illegal immigrants for breaking the law.

These talk show hosts also campaigned to help defeat the passage of a similar bill introduced during the Bush administration. The opposition was so intense in 2007 that the Senate immigration bill suffered a crushing defeat.

This time, however, the political atmosphere has changed and the strong opposition is no longer there. In fact, Sean Hannity who was one of the conservative talk show hosts who fiercely campaigned against immigration reform has changed his position along with some other conservatives. Republican opposition has also diminished as a result of the 2012 presidential elections.

The sentiment of the American public has also shifted, according to Michael Medved, another conservative radio talk show host who has always supported immigration reform. Based on a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 76% of Americans are for the creation of a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented in the country.

While conservative radio talk show hosts has campaigned against the bill, evangelical Christians also launched their own drive to support immigration reform. It is interesting to note that most of them were also opposed to the immigration reform efforts in 2007.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that a number of Republican members of Congress are eyeing to delay the process and proposing “poison pill” amendments to defeat the bill. Senator Charles Grassley even tried at the first Judiciary Committee hearing to link the Boston Marathon bombings to the immigration debate.

But Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well as House Speaker John Boehner and Representative Paul Ryan were quick to point out that the bombings should not slow down the bill. Rep. Paul Ryan said that, “If anything, what we see in Boston is that we have to fix and modernize our immigration system for lots of reasons.”

A number of Senate members have already joined forces to make sure the core provisions of the bill will remain unchanged. The Judiciary Committee expects to open the bill for amendments in early May.

Although most Republicans remain opposed to and are even seen to derail the passage of the bill when it reaches the House, a growing number of GOP members can no longer deny the need for immigration reform. One major group is comprised of Republican House members whose districts heavily rely on agriculture. They support the bill as it provides a workable guest worker program which addresses their chronic problem of worker shortages. Data shows that 17 of the top 20 farm districts are represented by Republicans.

Also, the bipartisan group of House members who themselves have been working on their own version of an immigration reform bill applauded the ‘Gang of Eight’ for its progress. They have also committed to continue on working on their version and are willing to reach a compromise.

If the bipartisan efforts of these members of Congress, both Senate and House, are any indication of the fate of the immigration reform bill, not to mention the growing support from the American public, a comprehensive immigration reform law may very well be in place before the year ends.

Pathway to Citizenship is Key to Genuine Immigration Reform

Providing a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country remains the most contentious issue in immigration reform. Republican Senator Ted Cruz even termed it the “poison pill” that will kill any efforts towards passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill. He contended that even if the Senate passes the bill, he thinks that the House will never pass it.

The sentiment of Senator Ted Cruz reflects the stand of the majority of his Republican base. According to him, the only way that a comprehensive immigration reform bill can pass the House is to abandon the ‘path to citizenship’ for the undocumented immigrant. It should focus instead on securing the border and streamlining the immigration process.

Meanwhile, support for providing a path to citizenship for undocumented workers in the country is growing with 6 out of 10 Americans supporting it based on a recent Washington Post-ABC poll. Democratic support reached an all-time high of 73 percent.

The support within the Republican Party, however, remains low. The support is so low among Republicans that some say Senator Marc Rubio’s involvement in the immigration reform deal might hurt his chances of becoming the GOP presidential nominee in 2016.

According to political observers, the chances that Senator Rubio will walk away from the reform legislation proposed by the ‘Gang of Eight’ which is composed of four Democratic and four Republican Senators is slim. Although Senator Rubio’s support to provide a path to citizenship may cost him the ire of primary Republican voters, his involvement is seen to win back support of Latino voters who withdrew support for the GOP for its anti-immigrant position.

Recently, the ‘Gang of Eight’ announced that it has completed its comprehensive immigration reform bill. A bipartisan group in the House is also preparing its own version of the bill. Both House and Senate immigration plans offer a path to citizenship.

The House version is said to provide three paths to citizenship. One path is offered to young immigrants or the so-called Dreamers who were brought into this country illegally when they were still children and agricultural workers who play a critical role in the economy.

The second path is offered to immigrants who entered the country illegally but whose family ties or employment relationships allow them to apply for legal status. The barrier including the three to ten year ban will be waived or lifted. They will be required to return to their home countries to apply for legal status and comply with other requirements.

The third path is offered to all other undocumented immigrants who may apply for “provisional legal status” so long as they have not committed any crime and they comply with requirements such as they payment of fines and learning English. Under the House version, it is said that the undocumented immigrants will have to wait ten years to be issued their green cards and wait another five years to apply for citizenship.

In order to fix the broken immigration system, the dilemma facing 11 million undocumented immigrants has to be addressed. Indeed, the pathway to citizenship, no matter how long or difficult, is essential to genuine immigration reform. This is the reality that the GOP-run House has to contend with unless they want a remake of the 2012 presidential elections in 2016.

A Giant Step Towards Immigration Reform

After years on the back burner, immigration reform is now one of the top priorities of Congress. What used to be the subject of political gridlock has brought influential members from both parties in the Senate to come together and come up with a framework for comprehensive immigration reform, one which seeks to provide a permanent fix to the present broken immigration system.

The proposed reform will allow most of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country to gain lawful status which will ultimately create for them “a path to citizenship.” This is, however, conditioned on the government’s success in securing its borders and the effective implementation of a system for tracking temporary visitors.

Measures to secure the border include intensifying efforts of the Border Patrol and increasing unmanned aerial vehicles and surveillance equipment. A commission will be created which will determine whether the border is already secure. The government will start issuing green cards to undocumented immigrants only when the border is secure and a system ensuring that people on temporary visas leave the country when required is already in place.

Meantime, under the plan, undocumented immigrants will be required to register with the government. Before they can be granted “probationary legal status” that will allow them to live and work legally, undocumented immigrants will have to go through a background check and pay a fine. They will also be required to pay back taxes. Once they are granted probationary legal status, they may apply for their green cards.

Undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes and are a threat to national security will not benefit from the program and may be subject to deportation.

Applying for lawful permanent residence will require the undocumented immigrant to go through another background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics and comply with other requirements. However, unless every intending immigrant who went through the legal process and are currently waiting in line are issued their green cards, no undocumented immigrant may be issued a green card. Less stringent rules will apply to childhood arrivals and agricultural workers.

The plan seeks to significantly reduce the wait time for family and employment immigrant visas. It will allow foreign nationals receiving advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from U.S. universities to obtain green cards. It puts strong emphasis on an effective employment verification system.

In order to address the agricultural needs of the country, the proposed reform will create a program which will allow farm workers to enter the country and take on jobs which Americans are unwilling to fill. It also recognizes the need of businesses for lower-skilled workers allowing them to recruit immigrant workers while protecting its own labor force.

The bipartisan framework is said to be consistent for the most part with President Obama’s immigration plan. Although differing in some major points with President Obama’s plan and more heated debates expected in Congress, this is seen by many as a good start. With the President’s support of the bipartisan efforts of these senators, a comprehensive immigration reform may be realized sooner than we think.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Likely to Pass Next Year

President Obama’s historic reelection accomplished what years of advocacy, opposition and political gridlock couldn’t. The GOP’s crushing defeat at the elections has left the Republican Party with little choice but to face the reality that this nation’s broken immigration system must be fixed and it must be fixed now.

Minority voters turned out in record numbers and helped propel Pres. Obama to victory. Almost three-fourths of the Asian American vote went to Obama, as did 93% of the African American vote. More than 70% of Hispanics picked Obama over Gov. Mitt Romney, whose 27% share of the Latino vote was even less than that received by Sen. John McCain in 2008.

Exit polls showed that 77% of Hispanic voters believe that undocumented immigrants should be given a chance to apply for legal status. Among all voters polled, 65% agreed that undocumented immigrants should have legal status and only 28% favored deportation.

These numbers have caused an about-face in immigration among the Republican Party’s members and some of its supporters.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, for one, said in an interview that immigration reform is an issue that has been around far too long and that a “comprehensive approach is long overdue”. He expressed optimism that he, the president and others “can find a common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

A former governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, views the need for immigration reform as an issue of good policy. In a television interview, he said that he believes that in today’s global market for labor and capital, the U.S. needs not only Ph.D.s in science and technology but also skilled and unskilled workers.

Even conservative talk show host Sean Hannity has weighed in on immigration reform. Saying that he has “evolved” on the issue, he now supports giving a pathway to citizenship to law-abiding immigrants who have been in the U.S. for a long time.

This position is in line with that of his boss, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, who had expressed bewilderment over Gov. Romney’s refusal to reach out to Latino voters, whom Murdoch said were “naturally Republicans”. After the elections, Murdoch sent out a tweet calling for “sweeping, generous immigration reform”.

Many believe that Gov. Romney’s chances were hurt by the divisive and anti-immigrant rhetoric he adopted early on in his campaign. It will be remembered that during the primaries, he suggested that illegal immigrants should “self-deport” to their home countries. He also promised his supporters that he would veto the DREAM Act.

Later on he tried to soften his tone on immigration. He said that he supports the military service portion of the proposed DREAM Act. He also promised not to deport individuals who received approvals under Pres. Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but said that he would replace it with a long-term solution. The DREAM Act and DACA were initiatives that enjoyed popular support among minorities.

Minorities now make up 36% of this country’s population. Given the major role that this demographic played in the last elections, politicians should rightly assess their positions on matters that are important to this growing electorate.

Last September, President Obama said that his greatest failure was not passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation in his first term. He vowed to push for immigration reform in 2013 if he is reelected.

Once again, immigration reform is at the forefront of U.S. politics. The message sent from the polls was loud and clear and politicians can only ignore it at their own peril.

Ruling on Arizona Law Underscores Need for Immigration Reform

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its decision on the controversial Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, which was challenged by the Obama administration on federal preemption grounds. Since the ruling allowed one key provision of the law to stand, the need for comprehensive immigration reform is more pressing than ever.

The three provisions of SB1070 that were invalidated by the Court are: Section 3 which makes it a crime to fail to register under a federal law; Section 5(C) which makes it a crime for an undocumented immigrant to perform or apply for work; and Section 6 which authorizes the police to arrest a person based on probable cause that he or she has committed an offense which makes him/her removable.

In striking down these provisions, the Court said that federal law trumped state law when it comes to immigration. The administration chose not to attack the law on racial profiling or equal protection grounds.

The Court upheld Section 2(B), the “show me your papers” provision. It authorizes state police to determine the immigration status of a person who is stopped, detained or arrested. This allows local police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect to be in the country illegally.

Supporters of SB1070 find this sufficient to declare victory but it must be remembered that the Court made a clear warning in the decision. Although Section 2(B) could not be challenged as written and prevented from going into effect, there may be other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it becomes effective. The Court also cautioned that detaining individuals for the sole purpose of verifying their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns.

This constitutional challenge is expected by many to follow. The problem with the “papers please” portion of SB1070 is it encourages racial profiling and discrimination. There is a fear that state police, in implementing the law, will base their actions on what people look like or what language they speak. That would be unlawful under federal laws prohibiting racial and ethnic discrimination.

All eyes are not only on Arizona but on other states as well. Five other states have enacted SB1070-type laws and in twenty-four states legislation has been proposed that include at least one of the four controversial provisions. By allowing Section 2(B) to stand, the Court has left the door open for states to pass their own, albeit limited, legislation.

Whatever path the ruling may be said to have paved way for is actually narrow and tricky given the Court’s caveat. Nonetheless, SB1070 and similar laws will be, if they are not already, implemented. Unfortunately, there must first be an actual case of racial profiling before the invidious discriminatory intent of the law merits discussion by the Court. It could be a U.S. citizen who is suspected of being an illegal alien.

Or it could be a DREAMer who already applied for deferred action. It remains to be seen how the new federal directive to grant deferred action to those who came to the U.S. at a young age would be applied in light of Section 2(B). The DREAMer could have been detained by Arizona police a little too long because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could not give a definite answer as to his status, maybe because his application is still pending or simply because ICE could not find his application.

Although federal immigration agents have been instructed to use their prosecutorial discretion in determining which individuals to remove from this country, state police can legally make a status check on anyone they suspect as having no lawful status and detain them while doing so.

These examples highlight the need for a comprehensive immigration system. Throwing in a patchwork of state laws into the intricate maze of federal immigration laws makes for a minefield. At the losing end are the individuals with whom, though they may have “crossed oceans and deserts”, we all share a common destiny.

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