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What To Expect From President Obama's Immigration Reform Bill

immigration reform

Now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected for a new term in office, its time for him to make good on his campaign promises, or at least that's what his constituency will likely be thinking in the weeks and months to come.

Many agree that now, while voters are still conscious of the political process and at least halfway tuned in to the issues, is the right time to push the important reforms Obama would like to put through the most.

Unquestionably among the most controversial of those would be the immigration reform bill, or the DREAM act: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act

The DREAM act offers immigrants who are here illegally a way to obtain citizenship.

They would have to register with the U.S. government, submit to a background check, and in some cases pay back taxes and fines as part of the program.

What Does the DREAM Act Do?

Once a person is accepted into the program the DREAM Act sets forth:

  • Deportation is deferred

  • They are required to pay taxes to the government from then on as a condition of citizenship.

  • They are required to learn English

  • They must either be in school, serving in the military, or employed

  • They must have a clean criminal record

  • Also, they must be able to prove they were living in the U.S. for five years before the DREAM act was made law.

During the citizenship process, a multiple-year undertaking, people are required to check back and verify that their record remains clean and update their educational/professional status.

Will It Pass?

Latinos for Obama

Of course, this bill is likely to cause a high degree of contention in Congress.

In an editorial for the Albuquerque Journal, journalist Esther J. Cepeda predicted the concerns most likely (in her mind) to be raised in Congress and the public forum: "...registration will put immigrants at risk for deportation, that the criminal background checks will be faulty and fears that English and civics exams will disqualify people."

Despite this it looks like Obama and his team believe there is strong enough voter support to carry this bill through.

A large part of the reason he won the election in November was turnout by the Latino voter population, who supported Obama 71-27 percent.

If that endorsement from the Latino community is any indication, Obama will have perhaps less difficulty than before getting this legislation passed.

He has called the lack of any passed legislation during his first term one of the biggest failures of his time in office so far however, the President has also expressed a desire to get a bill into Congress very soon after his inauguration this coming January.

It is safe to assume a lengthy debate over this bill is unavoidable, especially given the new filibuster laws currently under review in which, if enacted, one may only need to state their intention to filibuster to hold up Congressional proceedings.

If passed, they may hold this and other legislation up even longer.

What Will the Bill Look Like?

the dream act

At this point it is difficult to say how closely the final bill that makes it through Congress will resemble the original DREAM act or deferred deportation legislation introduced these past few months.

Compromise and amendments may render it unrecognizable, though Obama will try to keep, at the very least, the core of it intact.

The requirements for registration, clean records, civics testing and the like will probably make it through unscathed.

The sooner the President moves on the issue, the more likely it is that he will be able to retain the heart of the bill.

With 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, there is no question that something needs to be done addressing the issue of a path to citizenship.

In any case, supporters for this legislation are building on both sides of the aisle.

Former president George W. Bush, historically a staunch conservative and backer of traditional Republican party values has come out in support of this bill in a speech December 4th.

If this trend continues, the bill's prospects are hopeful.

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