DREAM Act’s Death May Stifle Immigration Reform

Thursday, 30 Dec 2010 12:43 PM

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Conservatives were ecstatic and liberals apoplectic when Congress killed the DREAM Act earlier this month. But both sides agree that in the wake of that development, the odds are strongly stacked against any significant moves on immigration policy over the next two years, The Hill reports.

“With Republicans poised to assume House control in January, immigrant-rights advocates see scant chance legislation to grant illegal immigrants any kind of foothold in the U.S. could move through the lower chamber,” the news service states.

“But with Democrats still holding the Senate and the White House, conservatives urging a harder line on deportations and citizenship requirements aren't terribly optimistic about those proposals either.”

So look for the status quo to rule when it comes to immigration in the 112th Congress, experts say. Members will strengthen their oversight of the White House’s enforcement policy but will almost certainly be unable to implement significant changes of their own.

"I would expect 'small ball' — smaller, more-targeted measures that aren't meant to remake the immigration system altogether," Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, tells The Hill. "Logic would dictate . . . they'll be doing a lot of oversight."

ACLU Legislative Counsel Joanne Lin agrees. The Republicans who will take over as chairmen of the House committees with jurisdiction over immigration policy "are about as far away from supporting comprehensive immigration reform as anyone can be," she tells The Hill. "I don't see a way forward” on comprehensive reform.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas will head the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Steve King of Iowa takes over that committee’s immigration subcommittee.

Smith says his first two immigration-related hearings will focus on workplace enforcement and E-verify, a program allowing employers to check the legal status of potential hires. “They are what I call ‘70 percent’ issues — 70 percent or more of the American people support those efforts,” Smith tells Politico.

The good news for conservatives is that many states look ready to follow the lead of Arizona in enacting their own tougher rules against illegal immigration.

“Every indication I get is they’re not done,” Ann Morse, who directs the Immigrant Policy Project for the National Conference of State Legislatures, tells Bloomberg News.

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