By Gloria Cardenas
President Obama made no promises about immigration reform during his State of the Union address stating only that our immigration system should be fixed to stimulate the nation’s economy and shrink the deficits.
In a speech that lasted 1 hour, 5 minutes and 5 seconds, as little as 30 seconds discussed immigration reform, and only vague thoughts were conveyed by the president with no plan.
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the U.S. Senate’s Comprehensive Immigration Bill. Speaker of the House John Boehner has stated that the idea of a pathway to citizenship — amnesty — is virtually dead. Amnesty cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of both the House and the Senate, cooperation that is unlikely.
In November 2010, President Obama had the ability to pass a comprehensive immigration plan with both the House and the Senate virtually in agreement. Since then the president’s approval rating has dipped from over 60 percent to 43 percent and is still dropping.
The 2014 Congress is very different from the one in November of 2010, and President Obama missed the only opportunity of his presidency to pass comprehensive immigration reform. President Bush came close to passing Immigration reform but failed in spite of his strong efforts.
President Obama and his administration has since deported more immigrants from the U.S. than the previous two U.S. presidents combined. In Utah, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deports hundreds of immigrants weekly. The Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) prioritizes the apprehension, arrest, and removal of immigrants.
The Department of Homeland Security aggressively pursues the removal of immigrants every day at the Immigration Court located in West Valley City. I am there nearly every week and watch it take place.
The question that each immigrant should be asking is not how long should I wait for reform, but is there an opportunity for me to obtain lawful permanent residency right now under current immigration laws? For many immigrants, the answer is yes.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allows the beneficiary to be deferred from deportation, and receive a work permit for two years.
Through a process called Parole in Place, immigrants who are either, parents, spouses, and children of active or retired U.S. military can work toward obtaining their permanent residency in the United States.
Through another process immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens who have entered the U.S. without permission once, can file a Pardon (I-601A) while he/she is in the United States. If approved, he or she only has to be in their country of origin for a short period of time to obtain the permanent residency stamp in their passport. Reform is a dream. These processes are a reality.
There may be some new regulations passed by executive order but most likely only for a minority of immigrants with very specific qualifications.
Many people I talk to feel that amnesty is coming, be it in six months or a year or two. This is not the case. Amnesty has not been passed by a president since Ronald Reagan in 1986, and only under a very special set of political circumstances.
It is a false sense of security to wait for amnesty. There are processes in place now that can bring relief to so many. These processes are real. Amnesty is not.
Gloria Cardenas is the managing partner of an immigration law firm in West Valley City.