Everyone, it seems, now supports immigration reform. The Huffington Post reported Monday that according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, more than two-thirds of Americans believe that immigration reform should be a priority during President Obama's second term.
But what does immigration reform mean? Apparently, this depends on which party one belongs to. According to the poll, Democrats are more likely to say that "integrating undocumented immigrants into American society" should be the priority, while Republicans favor stricter immigration enforcement.
In keeping with this, the Huffington Post also reports Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a staunch supporter of that state's draconian immigration law, as saying that legalization for unauthorized immigrants can come only after the border is secure - in other words, the same old "enforcement-first" or "enforcement-only" mantra.
Meanwhile, according to an article in the November 10 Financial Times by conservative columnist Christopher Caldwell, Senator Lindsay Graham, a key Republican who is now reported to be in discussions on immigration reform with Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, says that immigration reform should include an end to birthright citizenship. Caldwell also writes that while a successful immigration bill "must eventually offer citizenship to those who are Americans in all but their documents" it must also "halt immigration, or at least dramatically slow it."
This is reform? Passing the DREAM Act, which appears to be meant by the phrase "Americans in all but their documents", while closing the border or drastically reducing immigration quotas, and taking away the 14th Amendment's guarantee of birthright US citizenship for all American-born children: is this what more than 70 per cent of Latino voters had in mind in the way of reform when they voted Democratic on November 6?
Just because something might come out of Congress that is called "reform" doesn't mean that it is reform. This was also true of the failed 2007 bipartisan Senate reform bill. While the final version of that bill did contain a legalization provision, which was ostensibly the reason why the bill was killed when Lou Dobbs and Fox News started shouting "No amnesty for illegals!", the bill would also have drastically reduced family immigration quotas, an obvious attempt to limit Latino and Asian immigration.
For this reason, even though I have always supported real immigration reform as much as anyone else, I made calls to the offices of three Senators asking them to vote against the 2007 bill. These included the two then New York Senators, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, as well as a junior Senator from one of the midwestern states, Illinois. None of these Senators followed my suggestion.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.