Immigration Reform vs. Immigration Reality
By: Harlan York
January 28, 2014

In tonight’s State of the Union, President Obama said:

“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system.  Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted.  I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.  Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.

And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.  So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”

For one, I would like to be an optimist about immigration reform.

I really wish that immigration reform would pass already.

We have been waiting since Section 245 (i) left the Immigration and Nationality Act on April 30, 2001. Gone are the days when immigrants paid a $1000 penalty in their green card applications through work and family as a trade-off for crossing the border.

For the better part of two decades, I have been an immigration lawyer.

In that time, I have heard many politicians say many things.

Especially about immigration reform.

  • It passed the Senate in 2013.
  • President George W. Bush had a deal on the table with Mexican President Vicente Fox just days before the horrific tragedy of September 11, 2001.
  • The late Senator Ted Kennedy had worked with his Republican colleague John McCain on an ambitious immigration reform bill called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which was heavily supported by President Bush.

None of these efforts made it into law.

But President Obama’s speech earlier tonight did not mention another part of immigration reform: Enforcement.

He did not speak about how the United States Department of Homeland Security detained 477,523 during the last fiscal year, an all-time record.

Nor did the State of the Union refer to the record number of deportations in one year.

419,384 removed.  Another milestone.

Finally. the President, while hailing immigration reform, failed to say that less than half of the deported were criminals.

I want to believe that We as Immigration Attorneys – who advocate zealously for immigrants – can help millions of immigrants with real immigration reform. 

Sooner or later, it has to happen. It is not an IF,  it’s a WHEN.

About Harlan York

The first-ever attorney in New Jersey to win “Immigration Lawyer of the Year” from Best Lawyers, Harlan York is former immigration chair of the NJ State Bar Association and former co-chair for the NY State Bar Association CFLS Committee on Immigration. He currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Practice Management Committee.

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Harlan York & Associates practices law in the areas of Immigration, Deportation Defense, Family Immigration, Corporate Immigration, Naturalization throughout Essex County – Hudson County – Morris County – Passaic County – Somerset County – Middlesex County – Bergen County – New Jersey -Immigration Lawyer – NJ Immigration Lawyer – Jersey City-Newark-Paterson Passaic Elizabeth Edison Woodbridge Toms River Hamilton Trenton Camden Clifton Passaic Garfield Wallington Cherry Hill East Orange Passaic Union City Bayonne Irvington Old Bridge Lakewood North Bergen Vineland Union Wayne Parsippany-Troy Hills New Brunswick Plainfield Bloomfield Perth Amboy East Brunswick West New York West Orange Hackensack Atlantic City Kearny Mount Laurel Montclair Essex Hoboken North Brunswick Belleville. In addition to serving clients in New York, Pennsylvania, the greater United States, and Internationally.

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