In light of continuing economic concerns, many were surprised by recent confirmations from White House staff that President Barack Obama’s Administration is preparing to begin a push for comprehensive immigration reform. While Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) went so far as to state that he believes comprehensive immigration legislation could be approved this year, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated the process would begin this year, but does not think it will be completed. Recent public statements by President Obama reinforce his immigration policy, which includes creating secure borders and bringing undocumented persons out of the shadows, perhaps after paying a significant fine. While we await immigration reform, published reports indicate that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delayed a series of proposed worksite raids, refocusing enforcement efforts on businesses and executives instead of workers.
Following on the heels of the White House news, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations joined forces to present their immigration position outline on April 14. Their joint position favors legalizing the status of undocumented workers and opposes any temporary immigrant worker provision. Contrary viewpoints were immediately presented. For example, a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicated that a temporary “guest worker” provision would be a required trade-off in exchange for accepting legalization of undocumented workers. Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) warned that Americans cannot afford to lose more jobs to illegal workers while Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) questioned whether immigration reform was the appropriate place to focus government attention during an economic crisis.
The battle lines are once again being drawn . . . stay tuned as the drama unfolds. The decisions will likely have a major impact on employers and the nation as a whole.