Friday, November 13, 2009

White House to Push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in Early 2010

The New York Times, reporting on DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's speech today to the Center for American Progress, noted that today the Secretary confirmed the administration's intention to seek a path to legalization for an estimated 12 million undocumented persons now in the United States. The administration's plan, which seems on track to be introduced in early 2010, would require applicants to register, pay fines and all taxes they owe, pass a criminal background check and learn English." See full article here.  Newsweek magazine followed quickly, with bloggers there asking whether Lou Dobb's abrupt departure from CNN and Napolitano's message that the administration was ready to move forward on comprehensive reform may portend a "Rosier Picture" ahead. This roll out of the administration's intention to pursue a three-pronged approach (enforcement against employers or the "demand" side, enforcement aimed at securing the border and removing criminal aliens, and legalization) seems to have been purposefully timed so that the Secretary could enumerate the many ways in which the administration has prioritized and executed on its strategy ("reached its benchmarks"). At a Senate hearing earlier this year the Secretary was asked repeatedly whether she supported legalization, but at that time she was playing her cards close to her chest.  Nonetheless, protests are already being planned to oppose immigration reform in more than fifty cities on Saturday November 14 by anti-immigration organizations.
Interestingly, the number of apprehensions of individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally dropped sharply to about 556,000 (23% less than in 2008, and 67% less than the 1.675 million apprehended in 2000.  The speculation is that increased border security and a depressed economy have discouraged those who cross the border seeking employment. See also, "Immigrant Bill is Back on the Table," Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2009. (The use of the word "immigrant" here in place of the word "immigration" to describe the bill is unusual and may be a mistake by WSJ.)

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