The United States of America goes to elections of November 4th 2008 and by early 2009 a new leader will emerge. Immigrants in US are eagerly looking forward to see what approach the new President will chose – a new Immigration system or cleanup of the existing system.
If it were not for the disastrous financial crisis that emerged in the latter part of 2008, Immigration would have been the hottest issue for the Presidential elections in US. However, economic recession also puts a lot of pressure on the immigration system as illegal immigration can only put more financial burden on the states.
During President Bush’s tenure, especially during his second term, Bills were pushed to reform the current immigration system. Most of these reform bills never saw the light of the day, failing to satisfy a majority of senators. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill failed to clear the House as it had too many changes which were not acceptable to all. However, it seems that US Immigration is now at a point where a decision has to be taken as to how the country should handle the issues.
Many of the senators who opposed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill concede that the principle of a comprehensive change is better then a clean ups and path-ups, even though such small changes are easy to push through.
So, it is either push for corrective measures within the existing system, which seems to be a fast stop gap solution to achieve, or go for a time taking, but much needed new system altogether. As of now, the current stop-gaps and patch-ups are only holding up the “bridge”’ in places, while long backlogs and delays continue to cost both the government as well people a lot of money and time.
Some of the issues that have come up are the visa numbers – demand far exceeding cap limits in some cases and in other cases visa numbers are being wasted due to lack of manpower to speed up the visa allocating process. The security and integrity of many visa processing systems are also under fire, with increasing incidents of fraud being detected. And then not to mention the never-ending backlogs, especially in the green card processing system, is another big issue plaguing the immigration system.
We have already seen small scale clean-up moves such as termination of the Labor Certification Substitution process, which has cleared the system a bit. Changes have also been made to employment based immigration process, improving data validation etc. Proposals have been made to bring in changes in H-1B and H-2B processing etc.
But experts in the industry feel that these small scale solutions only address a miniscule percentage of the problem and in the long run more drawbacks will surface, unless the root cause of these issues are address. Moreover, since initiating an entirely new system will take quite sometime, many of the remedial proposals currently in the burner need to be implemented, such as the proposal to convert the Diversity Lottery Visa numbers to special skilled worker category and the proposal to re-capture un-used visa numbers etc.
Most of these Bills are being held back mainly due to political jockeying between senators, with many decisions riding on the vote bank. With the Senate elections coinciding with the Presidential elections, the recent debates over these bills in the House have seen senators switching preferences owing more to political reasons then the ground reality. There is little to hope for in the pre-election November session of the House. Even though, it will be months before the new session kicks in, an increasingly large community of Immigrants in the US are hoping that a fresh leader may bring in fresh changes.