Many immigration lawyers face questions about what laws or policies may be adopted in the future. It is, of course, difficult enough to deal with laws and policies that are already in place, without getting into the prophecy business. In my own case, when I changed office space more than10 years ago, I forgot to take my crystal ball with me. But that was actually no great loss, because it had not been working very well in the first place.
Nevertheless, requests for prognostications will never stop coming in (at least that is one 100 per cent safe forecast). Two of the most frequent requests I generally receive to play the role of Delphic Oracle are: i) on the future of amnesty, and ii) on whether same sex marriage will be recognized for green cards or other immigration benefits.
On the first question, my answer is not to expect amnesty in my lifetime. Actually, that is not as discouraging to some of my clients or prospective clients as it might seem, because an increasing number of them are half a century younger than I am, and therefore in a better position to look ahead. Long before they reach my age, America will be a vastly different country demographically, and white supremacy, which is the main obstacle to immigration reform now, will be a matter for the history books,.There goes my crystal ball again, but I think few people would argue about this.
In another generation, the Republican party as we know it now may no longer exist, unless it gets on the right side of demographic history in a hurry. In fact, losing the White House this fall might be the best possible thing that could happen for the Republicans, because it would drive home the importance of Hispanic voters and the need for a sea change on immigration policy from bigotry to humanity.
As for the immigration rights of same sex marriage partners, my suggestion is not to hold one's breath. While President Obama was pushed into supporting same sex marriage in general, he has also been verbally supporting immigration reform right from the start.The result? Nearly 400,000 deportations a year.
However, if he is reelected, there will be a great deal of pressure on him to dump enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),which his administration already regards as unconstitutional, entirely. For once, Barack Obama might find it politically impossible to have things both ways. This could open the way to same sex marriage green cards (at least until this issue come up for oral argument before Justice Scalia).
However, if Romney and his fellow Republicans win control of Congress and the White House this fall, there might be another kind of solution to America's immigration problems. If the Republican agenda of exploiting economic, class, racial, gender and religious divisions among Americans to gain power succeeds, will this country still be a place that anyone, except perhaps some of the super-rich, would want to come to in the future?
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.