Immigration in 2011: Tougher Times Ahead for Reform Advocates
President Obama and other immigration advocates can expect an uphill battle this year convincing Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. For starters, with Republicans regaining the majority in an already conservative House of Representatives, comprehensive reform will likely not be a priority in 2011 or the near future. And with Rep. Lamar Smith heading up the House Judiciary Committee which has oversight of DHS who has taken a strong anti-immigration position, we can expect much more enforcement in the ensuing months. Rep. Smith has not traditionally been an advocate for comprehensive reform nor legal immigration. In a December 9 address he shared the following, revealing his position on the matter:
“The enforcement of our immigration laws is critical. to the security and prosperity of our state and nation. The House Judiciary Committee should enact policies that will better secure our borders and discourage illegal immigration, human smuggling and drug trafficking.
“In the past five years, more than 28,000 people have been killed along the border because of drug-related violence. That includes more than 1,000 law enforcement personnel who have died.
“Without increased border security, we risk letting drug-related violence spill over the border. American citizens should not have to fear for their lives on U.S. soil. If the federal government enforced its immigration laws, we could better secure the border and better protect U.S. residents.
“Texans also should not have to compete with illegal immigrants for scarce jobs.
“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one million citizens and legal immigrants currently are looking for work in Texas. At the same time, according to a 2010 Pew Hispanic Center study, there are one million illegal immigrants working or looking for work in Texas. That is unfair to legal workers.
“Worksite enforcement efforts have fallen dramatically since President Obama took office–administrative arrests are down 79 percent from 2008, criminal arrests are down 62 percent, and convictions are down 70 percent. That means it is easier for illegal immigrants to keep jobs that rightly belong to U.S. citizens.
We could free up millions of jobs for Americans and legal immigrants if we enforced our immigration laws against illegal workers…”
This is not to say reform will not be possible, but difficult and will have to address the above issues in order to garner the bipartisan support needed to pass muster.