Washington is currently focused on negotiations to address the looming fiscal cliff. Once that issue is resolved, the Obama Administration will shift its attention to immigration. The Administration is expected to make a major push for comprehensive immigration reform early in the new 113th Congress, starting in January 2013.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform: The Administration favors a comprehensive approach to immigration reform to handle all of the major immigration issues together. Comprehensive immigration reform legislation is expected to include the following components:

  • Some form of legalization for undocumented workers
  • Creation of a new worker visa category for lesser-skilled positions in an effort to avoid future buildup of undocumented workers
  • Stronger border security and interior enforcement
  • A stronger employment verification system to ensure only authorized persons can work

The Administration plans to launch a major public relations campaign early in 2013 to build support for immigration reform. President Obama may address the issue in his upcoming inaugural address or his State of the Union speech. A bipartisan group of senators has begun to meet to discuss possible legislation. It may not take long to assemble the proposed legislation  due to the fact that comprehensive bills have been prepared in the past. The consensus is that the best time to move legislation will be early 2013. It is possible an immigration reform bill could pass by early summer.

Other Immigration Legislation: Republicans have introduced targeted immigration bills to address specific issues. The STEM Jobs Act would create new green cards for persons with U.S. advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The ACHIEVE Act would offer limited legal status to young people who were brought to the U.S. unlawfully as children. These bills are not likely to move forward on their own. The Obama Administration will likely seek to include these issues in a comprehensive immigration reform package.

Save the Date: Immigration reform legislation will be a key topic at Faegre Baker Daniels' annual "Passport to Success" Immigration and Global Mobility seminar, to be held in Minneapolis on May 7, 2013. Amy M. Nice, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director for Immigration Policy, will be the keynote speaker for the conference.