Is soup-to-nuts immigration reform a possibility?

Let the bells ring out; Obama says the time for immigration reform is “now.” Well?

It’s no secret that 2012 was a really busy year for all things political. Busy and actually accomplishing something however, are two different things. As we all know, or are likely aware, not much was done with immigration reform, other than the deferred action legislation; a boon for Obama’s electoral results. So what is next? There are millions waiting on the other shoe to drop, to see if the White House takes action, instead of making promises they don’t keep.

This slight tone of skepticism is not to avoid applauding what did get done in 2012 as far as immigration reform. The government did so some stuff, but by and large, it was like trying to put together an enormous puzzle, only to find out pieces were missing.

What was done? Temporary protected status was extended to Haitians, young illegal immigrants got a temporary reprieve and the hot button 287(g) immigration enforcement policy was scaled down. A good start, but it only whetted the appetites of those wanting more, demanding more and deserving more. And not to put too fine a point on it, the little that was done did, in light of how the election turned out, act as a swift kick in the derriere for all political parties. They finally got the message from the electorate that either they all pull together as a team to deal with immigration reform, or they could kiss their party status and support goodbye.

When the election results had a chance to filter through the evident shock of the losing party’s rank and file and top executives, there were rumblings about needing soup to nuts immigration reform, with the emphasis on solving the whole issue in its entirety. While that might be a pipe dream, it does indicate the politicians are “getting it.” The thing is, immigration reform is not just about those who want into the U.S. It is also about those who already live here and want to become legal.

To this point, the government had patched up a few holes here and there, and like trying to plug a leaking dam, when one hole is patched, another rips open. It’s either fix the whole thing or keep trying to float the leaky dinghy. The good news is that there are finally some signs of intelligence in dealing with deportations. In December, ICE revamped their guidelines to only arrest high-priority illegals, individuals with a serious criminal record and repeat rabbits across the border. In fact, ICE has to fill out another new form that spells out why an arrest does meet those rules.

Other patches to the system happened over the year, but still, there was no sign of a complete reform package, as promised. And now? Now, Obama says it is time. Well then, when, what and how? Let’s wait and see what happens next.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit

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