Rarely does a single primary election for one seat in the House of Representatives where less than 75,000 voters cast ballots seem to have such large reverberations in the political realm. The recent defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia may shift the dynamics of the debate over comprehensive immigration reform. Prior to the June 10, 2014 election, conventional wisdom in Washington DC suggested that, after Mr. Cantor vanquished his relatively unknown opponent in his district’s Republican primary, this House of Representatives may take another stab at cobbling together a comprehensive immigration reform package. Last year the Senate passed a bipartisan bill which included spending for heightened border security, a pathway to citizenship for certain undocumented aliens, a system for issuing temporary work permits and an expansion of the number of slots available for foreign nationals to work in certain high tech fields. While the House of Representatives has yet to produce a rival bill, officials at the White House have indicated that body should have one last opportunity to pass such a bill this summer. And they had expected it to begin once Mr. Cantor got past his primary rival.
Now that Cantor has lost, additional pressure mounts on President Obama to use his executive powers to stem the number of deportations from the country. In 2012 his administration instituted DACA, a program of deferred action which has given many young children who grew up in this country a chance to legally stay for limited renewable periods of time. Last spring he ordered his current head of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, to recommend additional measures he could take under his authority as head of the Executive Branch of government. But then weeks ago, the White House signaled that it would not consider such options until later this summer after the House had one additional chance to address comprehensive reform. Most political observers now believe, with the defeat of the second highest-ranking Republican in the House, that comprehensive reform has almost no chance of passage in the near future.
Accordingly, immigration groups which have eagerly waited for the Obama administration to introduce new limits on deportations are renewing their exhortations for speedy action. “As admirable as it is for the president to continue to extend an olive branch to the leadership on the House side, Republicans, to come up with something … it’s not going to happen,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. Organizations such as United We Dream and Presente.org have issued statements arguing that the time to wait has now passed. At this juncture, however, there has been no sign that the White House is changing its schedule of waiting till late in the summer to announce any new executive actions.
In the meantime, it is critical, in the event that reform does become law that the immigration attorneys in this country be prepared for the new category of cases any new law is likely to generate. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice. In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.