In late June, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan “Gang of Eight’s” comprehensive immigration reform bill in a 68 to 32 vote. Yet Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) hasn’t sent the measure to the House of Representatives, where the bill has an uncertain fate because of politics and constitutional issues (it contains revenue-raising provisions, which must originate in the House).  
[Photo above: Architect of the Capitol]

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants the House to write its own immigration reform proposal. And while the Senate bill awaits action, it continues to draw criticism from members of both political parties. 

Meanwhile, businesses and their employees await the ultimate outcome, which could impact them in various ways.     

Enforcement  

Proponents of the Senate’s bill, which include President Obama and other progressives, as well as several prominent Republicans, want to provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the country. 

But prior to any green cards being issued under the proposed law, several border enforcement measures will be required, including the installation of an additional 348 miles of fence (bringing the total up to 700 miles) along the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border, the purchase and use of drones, and the hiring of more border patrol agents. In addition, it requires implementation of stronger e-verify type systems for employers.

Opponents of the Senate proposal have every reason to be worried.  While it promises plenty of enforcement mechanisms, budget considerations alone almost ensure few of the promises in the bill will be made good. 

In addition, nothing in the bill can prevent a future Congress from reneging on the enforcement portion of the bill. That’s precisely what happened with the 1986 immigration law, signed by President Reagan, which granted citizenship to three million illegal immigrants living in the United States in exchange for various workplace and border security provisions that were never delivered. 

House ideas

The House of Representatives is likely to reveal its own immigration reform proposals soon.  One, called the KIDS Act, includes a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants who were brought here as minors and still reside in the United States.  Additional details about this proposal are unknown, as it is still being crafted by lawmakers.        

Regardless of what the final immigration reform bill contains, the business community will have its share of challenges in sorting out the complexities of its implementation.   

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 or eric.gjede@cbia.com.