This is the second and concluding part of the series of articles pertaining to expectations on Immigration Reform.
For years, conservatives have insisted that they won't back legalization unless the border is secure, immigrants who break the law are deported, and employers who hire undocumented immigrants are punished.
Democrats have already agreed to this equation in large part. As such, the Obama administration has expanded deportation programs, built new immigration detention centers, and sent thousands more border patrol agents and National Guard troops to the Southwest.
Yet, at least until the elections, Republicans continued to argue that these enforcement actions are not enough. The GOP platform in August accused the administration of "undermin[ing] the rule of law at every turn" and "fail[ing] to enforce the legal means for workers or employers who want to operate within the law."
Whether the Obama administration's track record on enforcement-1.5 million deportations in four years-will keep these accusations at bay is not clear. Insiders say we're likely to see at least some additional enforcement provisions in early legislative proposals.
"I think there'll be some [additional] border enforcement," the Democratic aide told me. "I'm hopeful more interior enforcement will be limited."
Most close observers agree that the leading proposals will include a mandatory system for employers to check the immigration status of job applicants. E-verify, the existing program to do this, which is not federally mandated for private employers, checks job applicants against government employment eligibility records to make sure new hires have permission to work. Some Democrats, including leading immigration reformer Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and a member of the "gang of eight," have been adamant supporters of programs to keep employer-hiring practices in check.
"Mandatory E-verify will almost definitely be part of the proposal," said Marielena Hincapie, director of the National Immigrant Law Project, a leading advocate for immigration reform that also opposes the employment check system. "The conversation so far on the Hill and at the White House is, if there's to be any kind of road to citizenship for the 11 million, one of the major things that Republicans want to bargain is mandatory E-verify."
Beyond E-verify, the initial guidelines may require all U.S. citizens and all legal immigrants to obtain what's come to be called a "biometric ID card." When Schumer teamed with Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, to issue a blueprint for immigration reform in 2010, they wrote, "We would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card."
Civil libertarians caution that the system is tantamount to a national ID card and raises the prospect of rights violations.
"In America, I am allowed to walk around unmolested," said ACLU legislative counsel Chris Calabrese. "A card like this that's linked to citizenship changes that dramatically."
Beyond the three legs of legislation-legalization, future flow, and enforcement-advocates for immigrants and progressive lawmakers are calling for more fairness in the deportation process and more attention to the needs of families.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus released a set of core principals for immigration reform that includes demands that the law, "Protects the unity and sanctity of the family, including the families of bi-national, same-sex couples." Republicans are likely to put up a fight against the inclusion of gay and lesbian couple as part of reforms to family-based immigration policy.
While the GOP had the fear of the new grassroots struck into it on Election Day, they're aftershock-driven declarations of support for immigration reform may be temporary. And the 113th Congress could push legislation so far to the right that Democrats are unwilling to support it. What's clear is there's a mighty fight ahead.
For more information, please feel free to contact the Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group at 201-670-0006 or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.