Sanctuary cities and counties in California and across the nation are struggling with confusion and disarray as they deal with anti-sanctuary measures undertaken by the Trump administration. There are approximately 200 sanctuary jurisdictions in the nation. They, and some jurisdictions that do not have sanctuary policies, risk losing federal funding if they don't comply with administration orders on cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrantion authorities.
If you don't like negotiations and compromises, you would disapprove of the merry-go-round procedures that the Congress follows in considering proposed legislation. One bill now being negotiated is the Senate version of the immigration reform bill pushed by the so-called 'Gang of Eight.' The Senate Judiciary Committee just approved its version of the bill, which contains a compromise regarding H-1B visas for highly-skilled foreign workers which is of great interest to some California companies.
Immigration law at one time allowed the parents of a child born here to apply for and achieve legal status. That procedure was eliminated during a period of harsher feelings toward immigration policy, and possibly also influenced by higher unemployment rates brought on by generally poor economic factors. California and other jurisdictions now must deport the undocumented parents of a United States citizen. As discussed in a prior blog, with respect to younger children born here, this is done rather unceremoniously in a manner that destroys the family unit.
One problem apparently left to fester by the federal government is the creation of thousands of immigration orphans who may never see their deported parents again. However, if Congress passes immigration reform, thousands of these children may be happily reunited with their parents, both in California and other states. California has by far the largest population of children left behind by deported parents.
When a state law attempts to interfere with a comprehensive framework of federal law and policy on a certain topic, the state law may be invalidated. That is the import of the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal taken from a decision of a federal appellate court. The appellate court had ruled that a state's harsh immigration law was invalid and pre-empted by federal law. California and all states cannot pass laws that transgress into the domain of federal supremacy over immigration law and policy.
Labor unions and businesses have reached an agreement regarding a new bill designed to streamline the citizenship process for over 11 million illegal immigrants. Low-skilled workers in California and elsewhere have historically faced challenges in terms of fair wage and job permanency, but the changes to employment immigration currently being discussed would drastically alter the fate of immigrants awaiting official status. This bill is just part of a sweeping series of changes to American immigration law that will give rise to a work visa program designed to address low-skill worker needs.
California families and others across the nation are appealing to Congress to ease the restrictions on bars that keep their loved ones out of the country. Bars occur when someone undocumented is going through the citizenship process, but gets caught crossing the border from their country back into the United States. One representative has called the punishments cruel because it separates families and forces one parent to raise the children alone.
The current presidential administration has made strides in immigration reform, but a potential downside to the current proposed reform bars immigrants from receiving healthcare benefits under the new Affordable Care Act. While there are positive aspects to the immigration plan, California immigrants currently moving family members to the U.S. may have to come up with another way to obtain health insurance. The new plan would offer several million undocumented immigrants the opportunity to receive probationary legal status in this country, allowing them to stay here legally and offer them the possibility of earning eventual citizenship. Unfortunately those immigrants would be barred from receiving medical benefits under the Act, but they would also be exempt from the requirement to carry insurance, at least while they are seeking citizenship.
A recently issued government report claims that immigration enforcement spending in the Obama administration has surpassed the numbers of other agencies combined, and illegal immigration has also tapered off. California immigrants may have benefited from the administration's policies recently, by being allowed to stay here to work or by a new regulation allowing people to stay in the U.S. while attempting to gain citizenship. However, immigration enforcement is still at the forefront of the administration's policies, meaning some immigrants could still face deportation or experience difficulty maintaining a job due to workplace raids from immigration officials.
Some of the saddest stories about immigration involve families forced to separate while they are applying for residency in our country. A new immigration law beginning in March may reduce that likelihood and could give hope to California families affected by the possibility of a separation. The law will minimize the amount of time families are apart while they are applying for residency. As of now, immigrants are required to leave the United States and return to their home countries in order to apply for a green card and await the decision, often resulting in long separation periods and the possibility they may not be able to return.