The new year brings with it the expectation of a lot of activity on immigration in Congress. And the first few weeks of the new Congress could set the tone. Here are the things to watch:
- House Republicans have selected Bob Goodlatte as the Chair of the Judiciary Committee and Trey Gowdy as the Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee. While both have generally anti-immigration records, insiders with whom Iíve spoken say that they will surprise us and are genuinely interested in moving comprehensive reform legislation
- The Senate had a ceremonial opening day, but wonít officially conclude its first day of business until later in the month. This was a procedural decision by Majority Leader Reid because on the first day of a new legislative session, the Senate can vote by simple majority to reform the filibuster rules. Right now it is extremely easy for the minority party to block legislation with just 40 votes. An effort is afoot to make the process harder and this could dramatically improve the prospects of the Senate passing immigration bills, both large and small.
- President Obama has indicated that he would like to get moving soon on immigration reform legislation and various news outlets are reporting that Congress will begin work on a comprehensive reform bill as early as this month.
- Budget issues. While the fiscal cliff has been averted, there is still a strong chance that budget cutting will be a continuing theme in this Congress. And a number of immigration-related programs could be on the chopping block. Itís too soon to say which ones will be affected, but it is safe to say that if budgets are trimmed across the federal budget, immigration enforcement and benefits programs will be hit.
I also know that here have been talks between members of both parties and between staffs on both the House and Senate sides. In other words, there is a lot of talking behind the scenes and while it is not clear yet how things will move, clearly there are preparations going on for something significant. As news develops, we will report in this newsletter and on our firmís blogs at www.visalaw.com.
In firm news, I was honored to be included on a list of 20 immigration experts to follow on social media that was compiled by ABC News. Only one other immigration lawyer made the list. You can find the list at http://abcn.ws/Uoje2s.
Readers are reminded that they are welcome to contact my law office if they would like to schedule a telephone or in person consultation with me or one of my colleagues. If you are interested, please call my office at 901-682-6455.