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The 110th Congress And Immigration Reform (a/k/a Animal House 1 2007)

by Tony Weigel

Long before Congress' action and inaction on immigration during 2006, Paul Donnelly wrote an article titled: It's Not Going to Happen, which was published on's website in August of 2005. 2 Mr. Donnelly accurately predicted, "when both sides want an issue to run on more than a new law to enact, nothing will happen. And if both sides think what can pass is worse than what they've got, nothing will pass." Specifically, the House Republicans of 2006, to include Representative Tancredo's faction of anti-immigrant absolutists, were not going to let the Senate's version of immigration reforms see the light of day in the House. These were the proverbial "elephants in the living room."

In 2007, many of the elephants are still there, albeit a few pounds lighter and nursing a few slight scrapes. Someone also woke up a somewhat mature, liberal lion, who is coveting the remote control to the TV in the "living room." There is little doubt that Senator Edward Kennedy will cherish choosing the country's prime-time line up this legislative season. However, as the guests file in for this year's immigration reform debate, no one should ignore the other large, potentially dangerous animals marshalling their way into the halls of Congress for this year's festivities.

Joining the elephant in the living room is a crash of rhinoceroses that made their way in by promising to be as obstinate as the absolutist elephants. These rhinos are conservatively clad freshman Democrats from states like Missouri and, from a distance, appear confusingly similar to the elephants on the immigration issue.

And last, but certainly not least, is one extremely hungry, meat-eating dinosaur making his way to the kitchen. He has one of those really long, archaic names that might have made some sense years ago in some classroom where there were beakers and Bunsen burners. Although it's abbreviated name is not T-Rex (its AFL-CIO), he can be just as hungry. (AFL-CIO is not to be confused with the herd of plant-eating dinosaurs, known as service industry unions.)

For the last six years or so, AFL-CIO has been paying filet-mignon like prices for skimpy legislative victories, like blocking certain provisions of overtime rules. AFL-CIO is really looking forward to devouring that much heralded dish known as the guest worker program, all in the name of protecting the U.S. workers of course.

There is not a lot of time to party, as several party goers have to go home and check with their exploratory committees regarding potential presidential bids. At this point, no one seems to know how this party will end. Will the fittest ideas evolve and survive to provide employers with meaningful options to meet the employment needs of America's multi-trillion dollar economy? Will somewhat humanitarian measures to positively impact the lives of millions of hard-working people see the light of day? Like many others, I am hopeful that these two questions will be answered in the affirmative in 2007. If not, it initially seems that these types of positive immigration reforms may remain an endangered species until after the 2008 elections.


1 Reference is made to the popular 1978 move, Animal House. See:

2 See:,0822-Donnelly.shtm

About The Author

Tony Weigel is a Kansas City, Missouri-area lawyer and the principal of Weigel Law Office, LLC. He concentrates his practice in the areas of business-immigration law and employer compliance with immigration laws. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He can be contacted at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.