Likely end of executive action for immigration reforms.
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: As the top of the Empire State Building flashes red merrily like disco strobe lights on a beautiful fall night, signifying the Republican party’s majority control of the Senate, for many legal immigrants waiting for work permits and expedited permanent residency, the red lights could well signify a stop signal, to their immediate dreams.
As the counting of votes continues through the night, one thing is apparent. It’s not just the Senate where the Democrats face a rout. It’s also embarrassingly in gubernatorial races which were considered safe. Incumbent Democrat governors are behind in early counts in true blue states like Maryland, Connecticut, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, with Florida and the president’s home state Illinois already going startlingly red.
Most legal immigrants, especially those who do not have a vote in the elections and were waiting for relief in their adjudication of status, like H4 visa holders who hoped to get work permits soon, and workers on EB2 and EB3 status who were waiting for expedited Green Cards, the polls could not have gotten over soon enough.
President Barack Obama had promised executive reforms on the immigration front after the polls were over, after he was forced to delay his decision. On the legal immigrants’ front, it was widely expected that he would legalize work permits for H4 visa holders, allow long standing legal residents to get Green Cards sooner, and push for more family reunification Green Cards. Of course, everybody understood that all this would be packaged as part of the main agenda: amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
However, that may now be that much harder or impossible with the GOP in control of the Senate and also at helm in states which house a lot of legal immigrants on work visas.
According to early indications, the GOP is already talking of a direct confrontation with the President if he does not “work” with them, which translates to not allowing parts of Obamacare to be repealed, and to stop the push for immigration reforms, especially legalization for illegals.
It’s more than likely that Obama is not likely to take up legal immigration as a piecemeal approach.
For him, it’s become a personal issue, of not just losing face with voters, but with future voters as well.
The approach of the GOP is that if the president wants to be a confrontationist and still decide to go ahead with his plans for immigration reforms despite the opposition holding all the aces, they will put blocks like spending cuts in bills to negate moves to implement it. With not just the House, but the Senate too in their control, they have the authority to do so.
As Texas Sen. Ted Cruz put it in an interview, the elections are a “powerful repudiation of the Obama economy.” He added that the goals of the GOP are to stop Obamacare and the push for amnesty.
Maybe, Obama may still decide to go ahead anyway and risk implementing immigration reforms, looking at the big picture of the 2016 presidential elections. But that looks less and less feasible as the night wears on, and the Empire State Building flashes red merrily, and the only blue will come after day-break, if it’s not a rainy day, that is.