Published:  June 1, 2014

The stars continue to line up for the eventual enactment of a program to allow our nation’s undocumented to obtain some sort of legal status.  Exactly what type of status that might be, and whether that happens in 2 months, 2 years or in 2 decades are the big questions.  In the meantime the political drama continues to unfold in Washington, where the majority of our legislators (along with the majority of the U.S. electorate) continue to favor the implementation of some form of comprehensive immigration reform or path to citizenship.

The drama playing out this summer involves, on the one hand, primary elections being held across the U.S. – leading up to mid-term elections in the fall,  and on the other hand, the “deportation policy review” card the President has been flashing.

As far as elections are concerned, much is at stake for a good number of politicians, especially when it comes to their stance on immigration and what to do with our nation’s undocumented.  For far right leaning candidates, such as those in the Tea Party, the image of being “soft” on immigration and favoring a path to legalization is seen as the ultimate sin.  Instead, “No Amnesty!” and mass deportations – or at least talk of it, are the messages that hold the most weight among their audiences.  Never mind the fantasy land in which such talk takes place, since realistic talk in politics takes a back seat to messages that suit the angry and resentful appetite of a given electorate.

The outcomes of this summer’s primaries will very much play a role in establishing the tone and direction of the immigration discussion in Washington.  As the mid-term elections in November grow nearer, the chances of there being any immigration reform dwindle.  The President and the pundits have advised that if some type of immigration reform/legalization legislation does not get off the ground in the coming 90 days, then it will not happen in this Presidency.  To be sure, it’s the conventional wisdom that there is zero chance of a Republican being elected President in 2016 if comprehensive immigration reform efforts remain at a standstill.

So what about the “deportation policy review” card?  Talk of Presidential action by virtue of Executive Branch powers, as was the basis of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or “DACA,” is certainly in the air.  That program allowed for the issuance of 2 year, renewable work permits for 1-2 million undocumented adults who came to the U.S. as a children.  Would that mean that the President will look to implement a similar program but to cover more of the undocumented population?  Would it be limited to only those individuals who are currently in deportation/removal proceedings, or who have been already ordered deported?    No one knows.  And President Obama has made a conscious decision to remain mum on the plan so as to give the powers that be in Washington more time to put together, or not put together, a viable legislative initiative to address our nation’s immigration problem.

It’s only a minority of politicians that do not want such a plan to move forward.  If that minority bloc is successful in halting immigration reform efforts, get ready for a big fight over the Executive Branch based plan President Obama will unveil.  Whatever the plan, someone will accuse the President of violating the U.S. Constitution and attempting to usurp the will of Congress and the U.S. electorate – an odd accusation for certain, given that the majority of both favors passage of immigration reform legislation.

PUBLISHED June 1, 2014 “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2014, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois