Comment: Immigration Lawyers and Immigration Law
The goal of CIR is to drastically increase legal immigration into the United States, both for permanent immigration and for temporary immigration. The idea is to provide a legal channel for folks to come to the USA, and thereby deter and minimize unauthorized border crossings and overstays. The historical record shows that people want to follow the law, and will follow the law if there is a legal channel available for their aim to immigrate, but if there is no legal provision for permitting immigration, undocumented immigrants are the inevitable consequence. This last is true not only in the experience of the USA, but also of many other countries. While IMMACT '90 provided a greatly expanded channel for skilled migrants, the lack of a similar channel for unskilled migrants has proved to be the Achilles heel of US immigration policy, leading directly to huge numbers of undocumented in America. The strategy behind CIR for over a decade has throughout primarily been to remedy the lack of an unskilled worker channel, particularly for temporary work, and secondarily to increase the quotas for employment based immigration, on both sides - temporary and permanent. Only tertiarily has CIR been concerned with legalization, and the concomitant issues of border security and interior enforcement (including what amounts to a National ID card). CIR has been in the works since about 1998, it is not something new. The goals above have been steadfast and clearly understood by everyone involved in the discussion within and without the beltway (in the give and take of day-to-day news on S. 744, these old underlying forces are sometimes forgotten, but they are nevertheless there, and it is these old underlying forces that shape the direction of events - including who wins and loses in specific S. 744 battles).

When the strategy for CIR was set back in the late 1990s, it was readily recognized that the principal problem would be organized labor. The reason was the historical record - from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 onward, the greatest opposition to immigration to the USA had always come from unions. Therefore, the architects of CIR set out first to win the unions over to the cause; leading to the historic AFL-CIO vote of 2000 to support CIR - the first time ever that organized labor in the USA supported increased immigration. After that, it was politically impossible to lose the CIR war. Immigration Daily was born with CIR (in the first half of 2000), and we have always been pro-CIR, the political tea leaves portend success on immigration once the unions are on board (notwithstanding any number of bigots). What got in the way of winning quickly was Al Qaeda and 9/11 - leading to distractions which, quite apart from involving our military in Iraq and Afghanistan, created an atmosphere of fear domestically within which it was difficult to advance immigration legislation. Today, Osama Bin Laden is dead, the wars have almost wound down, and most importantly, domestically, Congress and the American people understand that we went a little overboard in our reaction to 9/11. The direct result of all these trends is renewed interest in CIR - of course, it helps that demographic trends are moving in the same direction, witness last November's election verdict, and it helps further that draconian enforcement has already been tried and has failed, miserably. But while enforcement failure and the 2012 election are immediate causes of S. 744, the deeper, more powerful cause of CIR is the end of the post-9/11 mentality in America, which allows the underlying political re-alignment of the unions coupled with the existing lacuna for unskilled employment immigration to once more be felt.

All the above is merely background. What it all means for immigration practitioners in 2013 is that CIR promises to easily double immigration into the USA in coming years - nothing like this has been seen in the post-IMMACT '90 world. Even the huge 245i waves of the late 1990s and early 00s were small potatotes as compared to what is coming. And its not legalization - its much much more. Many entirely new niches will be created in immigration practice, many of those niches will be larger even than EB5 is today. Compounding the opportunity is Congress's predilection for messing up everything it touches - nothing gets gnarled up more than when Congress gets going. The final CIR statute will likely be so complex and convoluted that to an outside observer it will seem that Congress went out of its way to ensure that all immigration attorneys were gainfully employed till the age of 100! Contrary to what the anti-immigrationists think, few immigration lawyers actually understand the scope of the opportunity that CIR represents. In 1990, Fragomen was a small firm of 20+ people, with about a half-dozen lawyers, some of them went to removal hearings every day for immigrant clients. IMMACT '90 made it possible for this small firm to grow almost 100-fold in the last 23 years, and join the AmLaw 100 this year. With 2,500+ people globally, and legal services revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Fragomen is quite a phenomenon - that is well known, what is not so well-known is that none of this could have happened without IMMACT '90. CIR promises to be greater than IMMACT '90 as far as opportunity for the bar is concerned. It will lift all immigration boats, and those who are willing to work hard will do very well indeed. More immigrants than ever before will be headed our way in a post-CIR world, and thankfully they will be on a lawful track, and many of them will need legal counsel. It is not an exaggeration to say that CIR will be the dawn of a new era in immigration practice.

While we are engaged in the ugly underbelly of politics as S. 744 winds its way into slowly becoming a statute, the grand picture of increased, and lawful, immigration into the US should be always borne in mind as the give-and-take of CIR negotiations takes place. Making law has always been an ugly art, even to the lawyers who will later apply it. We realize that the CIR battles are not pretty, and there is worse still to come. What must not be forgotten is the ultimate aim - double the number of legal immigrants into the USA. CIR is a once-in-a-generation event, and will be truly life-changing for practically all readers of Immigration Daily. If we had been around in 1990, we would have said the same, and we would have been right. We urge our readers to be aware that America needs CIR - the current situation of undocumented immigration cannot continue, that Congress is (finally!) determined to do something about immigration, and that it is impossible to for such a large change to happen without greatly benefiting the immigration bar.

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