High-Skill Immigration Reform Likely Dead In 2013

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After much speech and pomp, it appears that general immigration reform is dead in 2013, ending with it the chance of positive change to how we handle high-skill immigration. It didn’t have to end this way, but here we are and we need to face the current reality.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent reported yesterday that in the House, the so-called Gang of Seven will likely not bring forward a bill that could be passed in the lower chamber. That, and the fact that the Senate’s comprehensive bill was deceased upon hello in the House, means that options for functional immigration reform this year are now essentially zero.

High-skill immigration reform was lashed to larger immigration reform in the Senate, marking its fate in time with other pieces of what is generally referred to as “comprehensive” reform. As that effort has failed, so too has high-skill immigration reform faltered.

Sargent goes on to write that House Republicans could “roll out a series of piecemeal bills.” Theoretically, one of those smaller pieces of legislation could deal with high-skill immigration. However, if there is sufficient political will in the House for a push on the single issue isn’t clear. And it is also not plain how such a single bill could wind its way through the Senate, which has already passed its own immigration law.

In a somewhat depressing conclusion, Sargent states that “it remains very possible that House Republican leaders will simply let reform die.”

Next year is an election year, and the threat of primary challenges on the right remain real. Immigration is an exceptionally difficult issue for Republicans, given fierce base support for draconian legislation, and changing demographics that squeeze its leadership. For now, however, it appears that the threat of ‘being primaried’ remains a larger fear for House Republicans than long-term changes to the makeup of the American populace that do not, on projection, bode well for their party.

Unless something miraculous shakes loose, immigration reform looks dead for the year. And as such, we won’t see a rise in H-1B visas and the like. It didn’t have to end this way, but here we are and we need to face the current reality.

For more on how we came to this somewhat dispiriting conclusion of a multi-year push to better our immigration laws, head here.

Top Image Credit: ttarasiuk