Following the mid-term elections

November 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

Following the elections on Tuesday the Republicans have gained significant grounds over the Democrats in the House. This signals a change in leadership of the key committees relevant to immigration, with Lamar Smith (Republican from Texas) ready to assume control of the House Judiciary Committee which oversees all immigration issues, and Steve King (Republican from Iowa) ready to chair the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. Both Smith and King have in the past been proponents of tough immigration measures. In fact, Lamar Smith was the architect of IIRIRA, an extremely harsh piece of legislation that passed in 1996. The law put into place several provisions that had a severe punitive effect on immigrants. Then in 2005, the House passed H.R. 4437, which further curtailed due process and judicial review as well as criminalized unlawful presence, and increased penalties for illegal entry or reentry. In the 112th Congress, with the House controlled by the Republicans, additional proposals for immigration reform pushing for even stricter border and interior enforcement measures will likely surface. Whether or not they will receive enough support to go into effect has yet to be seen. Notably, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reelection victory in Nevada means that the Senate Democratic leadership structure remains stable in the meantime. Senator Reid and Chuck Schumer (Democrat from New York), who is expected to remain in his position as chair of the Immigration Subcommittee, will continue to push for broader reform, including proposals such as the DREAM Act. However, these efforts will be met with strong resistance, with the House focused on border security and enforcement. Any reform measures will need major compromises from both sides.

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