This has already been noted in the comments, but I did want to comment on the new comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by Senator Menendez and other Democrats. I usually only post summaries and extensive comments on bills I feel have a significant chance of advancing and this one really has no possibility of moving anytime soon. If it serves any functions, I would mention two. First, there is the political dimension. Pro-immigration voters should be reminded that the Democrats in Congress are promoting this kind of bill while the GOP is completely focused on E-Verify and enforcement. That's important right now especially given the criticism that has been leveled against the President mainly by members of his own party who question his genuine commitment to solving immigration problems.
Another important function of the bill is to serve as a marker showing the current thinking of Democrats. There are new ideas in the bill and whether we get comprehensive reform or piecemeal bills, many of the ideas in the Menendez bill are likely to be incorporated. For example, I've been working with several other immigration lawyers and health care experts assisting Hill staff on new provisions for physician immigration designed to do more to encourage physicians to locate in severe physician shortage areas. There is a decent chance a physician immigration bill will move on its own this year and you can expect that bill to look similar to what you see in the Menendez bill.
So while it is hard to get too enthusiastic about this bill given the current political environment, I am pleased to see it introduced. But as I've said here before (and in disagreement with other pro-immigration voices), I do not believe holding out for comprehensive immigration reform is a wise move. A comprehensive bill has too many provisions that become deal killers and easy targets for the antis. There are just too many provisions that give easy excuses for less than courageous members of Congress to vote no. Perhaps when we one day have a less partisan environment a big solution which represents genuine bargaining between the parties can be achieved. For now, we have real problems that need fixing and which can be addressed with smaller measures that a majority of Congress can support. We should be focusing on those types of bills.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.