Comprehensive immigration reform could be reality in 2013
While 2012 brought a considerable amount of developments in immigration laws, more could soon be in the offing, recent reports suggest.
According to the Huffington Post, President Barack Obama intends to make immigration reform a key component of his political agenda in 2013, perhaps coming before January ends.
"An Obama administration official said the president plans to push for immigration reform this January," The Huffington Post reports. "The official, who spoke about legislative plans only on condition of anonymity, said that coming standoffs over deficit reduction are unlikely to drain momentum from other priorities."
Though new immigration policies may be announced, it has yet to be determined in what capacity or what the specific changes will be.
Some say it could be an announcement pertaining to a relaxation of rules pertaining to deportations. With the passage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, many undocumented immigrants were permitted to stay within the U.S. so that they could continue to send money home to their families. However, there were still a large number of people who were not eligible for the DACA. As a result, some were compelled to return to their home countries. According to a recent report from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, there were more than 400,000 deportations of unauthorized immigrants in 2012. That's the highest number of deportations in a single year in the nation's history.
Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a staunch advocate of immigrants' rights, said that this record is not one that should be looked upon favorably.
"This is nothing to be proud of," said Gutierrez in reference to the deportations made last year. "In the 409,849 deportations are hardened criminals for whom I have no sympathy, but we must also realize that among these hundreds of thousands of deportations are parents and breadwinners and heads of American families that are assets to American communities and have committed no crimes."
He added that in 2013 and beyond, the Obama administration ought to focus on producing a "smarter approach" as it pertains to deportations, for the current system is not working.
Majority of Americans in support of undocumented immigrant rights
Among the American people, there's a groundswell of support favoring unauthorized immigrants' ability to remain in the U.S. Based on a recent exit poll taken by Fox News after the 2012 presidential election, nearly two-thirds of the 5,100 people surveyed said undocumented immigrants should be offered a chance to apply for legal status. Just 28 percent said that they should be deported back to the country they came from.
Other polls have revealed similar sentiments among the American people. In a CBS News poll published in late December, nearly half of Americans indicated that they thought unauthorized immigrants should be permitted to stay in the U.S. and be allowed to apply for naturalization. In a separate Bloomberg News poll, more than half of respondents said that Obama had a mandate to overhaul the current U.S. immigration system based on the vote tally. Obama won by nearly 5 million popular votes and 126 electoral votes.
It will require a full-fledged effort, though, for change to come. ABC News recently spoke with Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of immigration reform lobby group America's Voice and Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute. Among other things, Obama will need to set establish a clear message of what he intends to do and not waver from it. He then must act on it as soon as possible so that the reforms can be put into place.