Amnesty, 245(i) – Will Either Ever Happen Again?
July 1, 2005

In the past 20 years or so, the terms “amnesty” and “245(i)” have been music to the ears of our country’s undocumented population, with the former generally referring to President Reagan’s all-encompassing initiative of the mid-80’s and the latter to President Clinton’s more limited program of the mid 90’s and early part of 2001. Both initiatives gave our undocumented population an opportunity to come out from the shadows and legalize their stay in the U.S.

With the number estimated to be somewhere between 10 and 12 million, today’s undocumented population in the U.S. is hungry. Not so much for food, but information. With all the talk going on in Congress and of course, the media, this population wants and needs facts, not speculation. Will there be an amnesty? When will it be? Who will benefit? Can I start a process now?

The answers: Yes – in my humble opinion. Probably in the coming 12 to 24 months – in my humble opinion. I do not know. No.

With landowners on our nation’s borders taking measures into their own hands (e.g. Minuteman Project) and the impact of the REAL ID Act being felt at the local government level (e.g. prohibitive obstacles to renewal of drivers licenses for those without evidence of legal status), the situation appears to be ripe for a solution. President Bush has publicly stated that the issue is at the top of his agenda, but he steers clear of any talk of “amnesty”, and will only go so far as to advocate for the implementation of a temporary work visa program – where applicants will pledge to return to their home countries. Clearly, that type of a program will not be enough of a carrot for most of the undocumented population to step forward.

Because it does not appear that the U.S. government has either the will or the means to initiate deportation proceedings against millions of individuals, there is no question that some sort of ameliorative immigration legislation will be signed into law – it is just a matter of when. And of course, we do not know where the line will be drawn as to who will be eligible.

So, as the immigration law political football gets kicked and thrown around and pundits in the media scream and yell on both sides of the debate, the inevitable will eventually happen. Its just a matter of form, substance and timing.

Copyright © 2005-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois