With Tuesday’s election swinging control of the House over to the Republican Party, comprehensive immigration reform is in danger according to sources.
When the new Congress convenes in January new committee chairpersons will be appointed. For the House Immigration subcommittee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is out, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is likely to take her place, and the Judiciary Committee is likely to be led by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), forcing an entirely new approach to addressing immigration-related issues.
The Democrats had been working on comprehensive immigration reform centered around four main points: requiring biometric Social Security cards; beefing up border security; creating a system for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a path for the legalization of certain undocumented immigrants. Now that Republicans have control, the immigration focus will most likely be on border enforcement, immigration law enforcement and strengthening visa security. A Republican plan is not likely to bring any kind of attention to amnesty for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country.
Immigration is also not expected to be a top priority, as the now Republican–controlled House is likely to focus on putting through legislation to help the economy and create jobs.
The best short-term chance for immigration progress lies with re-elected Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who pledged to bring up the Dream Act in the lame-duck session before Congress adjourns for the year. While his pledge was initially thought to simply attract Latino voters, Reid appears to be committed to the issue. Perhaps, now that the mid-term elections are over and grandstanding is pointless, Senators from both sides will support the act and would give conditional legal status to undocumented immigrant students who arrived before age 16, have been in the U.S. for at least five years, graduate from a U.S. high school, and complete two years of college or military service.