There’s never a dull moment in the immigration reform race as Republican and Democratic lawmakers push for their version of the controversial bill.  Many wondered what the future would hold for the bill after Speaker of the House, Sen. John Boehner (R.-Ohio), refused to vote on the bill, stating that the House would develop their own version to be voted on.

No bill was developed.

Then, Congress broke for their annual five-week recess with no intent on staying in Washington to piece a comprehensive bill together.  Over the summer months while Congressional members have been away, reports have circulated that there may not be any time allotted for the bill on the upcoming Congressional calendar. 

With all of the speculation, word has finally been passed on that the House’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight” plans to continue the fight this coming October.  The International Business Times reported earlier today that a Democratic staff member close to the issue has confirmed that the issue will be brought in front of the House again in only a few weeks.

While Senators spent time in their respective states on vacation, not all were lying low.  Many were addressing crowds at town hall meetings, talking about their perspective of the proposed legislation.  With an ever increasing need for some type of reform, many Republican lawmakers seem to be voicing their support for the measure.

Even Sen. Marco Rubio (R. – Fla.) who has publicly condemned the measure to give citizenship to the 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally, he has recently stated that some type of reform is necessary.

Democratic Senators have stood by the bill for the most part since its inception.

“I think the work has been done,” said the IBT’s anonymous source, “I think they’ve got a good proposal.  I think they’re waiting to see whether there is any chance that a comprehensive bill is going to be looked at, or components of this bill could be looked at.  But I think there are probably some additional machinations that have to happen first.”
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We came across a great publication by the Huffington Post earlier today which outlines what they believe are the top five reasons why immigration reform will most likely pass this year.  Check it out:

As lawmakers prepare to return to Washington after Labor Day, a few inside-the-Beltway pundits have blithely predicted that, “immigration reform is dead.”

This, in the face of headlines that uniformly declare that the forces of reform – and Progressives of all sorts – have dominated the August town meeting circuit. And the vaunted anti-immigration reform backlash is nowhere to be found — except perhaps in the imagination of Congressman Steve King.

In fact, there are many good reasons to predict that the odds are very good the GOP House Leadership will ultimately allow a vote on an immigration reform bill containing a pathway to citizenship this year. If such a bill is called, the odds are close to one hundred percent that it will pass.

That is because, right now, there are more than enough votes on the floor of the House to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship if it is given an up or down vote. The only question now is whether the House Leadership decides that it is in their political interest to call the bill.

The GOP leadership understands that if an immigration reform bill passes, the Democrats will get the credit with key immigrant constituencies and many suburban swing voters. But they are also coming to realize that if they do not call the bill, they will get the blame with those same constituencies – and that could lead to both short-term and-long term disaster for the Republican Party.

Here are the top five reasons why immigration reform is likely to pass this year:

Reason #1: In order maintain control of the House, Republicans can afford to lose a maximum of seventeen seats in the mid-term elections. There are 44 districts currently held by Republicans where significant numbers of the voters (12% or more) are either Hispanics or Asian Americans. Of that number, as many as 20 may be seriously in play in 2014.

The mid-term elections are all about turnout. If Hispanic and Asian American voters are sufficiently enraged by Republican refusal to pass immigration reform, the GOP high command fears that they will register to vote and turn out in substantial numbers. That could easily tip the balance in terms of control of the House of Representatives.

And don’t think that immigration reform is “just another issue” for Hispanics and Asian Americans. It doesn’t matter whether you yourself would be personally impacted, a politician’s position on whether they are for or against immigration reform has become symbolic for “are you on my side?” – “do you stand for or against my community?”

To get a sense of the intensity of feeling, all you need do is attend any of the literally hundreds of pro-immigration reform events and town meetings that have been held over the August break. People are fired up and ready to go.

The polling is equally clear. A poll taken of voters in key swing districts currently controlled by Republicans conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) in early July showed:

    • Republican and Independent voters want Congress to pass a solution to our country’s broken immigration system.
    • Many are less likely to support Republicans if the House fails to pass immigration reform this summer.

According to a press release issued the by the polling firm:

Voters in CA-10 (Jeff Denham), CA-21 (David Valadao), CA-31 (Gary Miller), CO-6 (Mike Coffman), MN-2 (John Kline), NV-3 (Joe Heck), and NY-11 (Mike Grimm) all
say they would be less likely to vote for their Congressman next year if he opposes
immigration reform. Voters in those districts also say they will be inclined to punish the Republican Party more broadly if the House GOP does not allow immigration reform to move forward.

Reason #2: The Republican Leadership will be under enormous pressure from the Republican establishment – GOP donors, 2016 Presidential aspirants and other stakeholders – not to permanently damage the GOP brand with the exploding number of Hispanic and Asian American voters.

The November 2012 election results were a shocking wake-up call for the GOP establishment. Many actually expected to win. Up until election night they lived in denial of America’s changing demographics. Now they are scrambling to “rebrand” the party with Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, single women, and young people.

If the GOP refuses to call a vote on a pathway to citizenship in the House and is blamed for blocking immigration reform, that could alienate many of those constituencies – and especially Hispanics – for decades to come.

Texas is a case in point. Already Texas is a majority minority state. Even now, if Hispanics and African Americans registered and voted at the same rate as other voters, the GOP would find it difficult to count on the state’s electoral votes in Presidential elections. But Texas’ Hispanic population is growing. Even at current levels of voter participation, the GOP risks losing Texas if it becomes a permanent pariah Party among Hispanics.

Without Texas, it is almost impossible to put together a path to Republican Presidential victory at any time in the near future.

Reason #3: The more GOP leaders like Representative Steve King (R-IA-4) continue to make outrageous comments like the one about the “cantaloupe-sized calves” that immigrants get from “transporting hundreds of pounds of drugs” through the desert, the harder it is for the Republican Leadership in the House to resist pressure from the GOP establishment to call a vote on immigration reform.

The more that Congressman King – and his colleagues like Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1), or Congressman Don Young of Alaska (R-AK-AL) – who referred to Hispanics as “wetbacks” — continue to spew anti-immigrant bigotry, the worse off they are not only with Hispanics and other immigrants – but with independent suburban women and young voters.

If independent suburban women and young voters are left with the view that the GOP is being led by – and defined by — the Steve Kings of the world, many of them will desert the party in droves. They will react the same way independent voters reacted in Missouri and Indiana to the outrageous comments about women and rape by losing GOP Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.

That would not only be a disaster for the GOP’s Presidential hopes in 2016 – it would make it even more likely that the GOP will lose control of the House in 2014 since it makes it even harder for them to hang onto to Republican-held suburban seats in the Northeast and Midwest.

Reason #4: Increasing portions of the GOP base actively support comprehensive immigration reform.

It’s not just the immigrant community and Progressives pressing the GOP leadership to call a vote on a pathway to citizenship. Many conservative voices have begun to actively campaign to pass immigration reform.

A large table of Evangelicals lead by national Evangelical leaders is working hard to persuade Republicans to vote yes – and call a vote in the House. They have spoken at Republican town meetings, taken out ads, and met privately with many GOP members.

Especially in the south, primary challenges are generally fueled by the Evangelical wing of the party. Evangelical support neutralizes the fears of many GOP representatives that a vote for immigration reform could subject them to a primary. That has weakened opposition to reform among Republicans who are more concerned about Primaries than General Elections.

Pro-immigration reform Evangelical activists have teamed up with leaders from the business community to support a pathway to citizenship. In GOP circles that is a powerful combination.

Business, Evangelical and law enforcement figures have done an increasingly effective job not only at making their case to the Leadership, but providing political cover to Republican House Members with few immigrants in their districts.

Reason #5: The polling shows that the biggest vulnerability for the GOP next year is the fact that persuadable voters increasingly believe that the Republicans in Congress are simply incapable of governing. Voters hate the gridlock and increasingly blame Republicans for obstruction. Increasingly, swing voters believe that the GOP is willing to sacrifice the good of the country for narrow partisan ideological reasons. In fact, voters have begun to think the GOP is just plain old incompetent.

If the Republican Leadership allows its extremist wing to block immigration reform even thought it passed the Senate on a strong bi-partisan vote, has majority support in the House, and the support of most Americans — that will become Exhibit “A” in the case for throwing them out of power.

And if they manage to shut down the government – either in a futile attempt to “defund ObamaCare” or to prevent the government from paying its creditors (the debt ceiling) – and stop immigration reform – the case will be set in stone.

For their own good, the Republican Leadership simply can’t allow that to happen.

I for one do not believe that the Republican Leadership will be so stupid – will so badly misplay its hand – that it will allow a tiny minority of extremists to fundamentally jeopardize the Party’s near-term and long-term future.

Of course, stupider things have happened. But rest assured that if they do, the growing movement for immigration reform – not to mention the Democratic Party – will make the GOP pay the price.
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The devil lies in the details it seems with the immigration reform bill, according to Republican Senators who aren’t too pleased with the 1,200 page comprehensive legislation.  As lawmakers prepare for their come back from the Congressional recess, many are publicly stating their belief that if the bill were put before the House, that it would be put to a vote.

Among those believers, President Barack Obama stated that he is “absolutely confident” that the bill would pass the vote if placed before Congress today.  Lucky for opponents of the bill, nothing will be done until Congress resumes in early September.

Critics have started to question specific details which have been included in the Senate-passed legislation, saying that it is filled with pork-barrel spending projects that could cost billions of dollars.  One such inclusion is a “Youth Jobs Program” that would “provide … employment opportunities” for young adults.  The project, included on page 1,181 of the bill, calls for $1.5 billion to be set aside to give to states that employ this program.

“Earmarks, special pork deals, and cash for groups allied with the Obama administration should be eliminated from any final bill,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. in an interview with

Additionally, the Senate version of the bill allocates $50 million plus for non-profit organizations that serve the immigrant communities.

“Investing in all 11 million aspiring Americans will enable them to contribute even more [to America],” said Julia Toepfer, a spokeswoman for the National Immigrant Justice Center to

While not all parties agree on what is included in the bill, many recognize the importance of passing legislation that would help the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, and would see a more streamlined process to achieving a green card.
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Only a few more weeks of the Congressional recess remains and as we wait, many key players are talking about their next move.  Although the Senate already passed their version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that among many details, offered a specific pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally before 2012, it remains unknown as to whether the House will pass the bill.

As we get closer to the return of Congress on September 9, we suggest that you keep some important Republicans in mind so you can have a better understanding of the debate of immigration reform.  There are certain individuals who are saying too much, others who are keeping eerily quiet, and those who just don’t seem to have much of an opinion.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Flo.) has spent the past few months talking down the bill saying that it is too liberal and unfairly allows 11 million illegal immigrants citizenship.  His argument is that it is rewarding individuals who committed a crime and that the bill passed by the Senate is not comprehensive enough.  He’s publicly stated that there is not enough included in the bill to address the border issue with Mexico.  In recent weeks he has questioned Congresses inaction, stating that a version of the bill needs to be drafted before the President passes the bill by executive order.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been adamantly against the bill since the beginning, and even refused to address the bill when it was passed to the House from the Senate.  He vowed to draft a new version of the bill without a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented.  But in recent weeks, Boehner has been relatively quiet, making some wonder if he really knows what he wants.

Then there is the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who rejected comprehensive immigration reform earlier this year.  He addressed a town hall meeting a few days ago and said that the House would act, but not on a “special pathway to citizenship” that Democrats are hoping for, according to MSNBC.

By no means is this article stating that the fight for immigration reform is dead, but it’s important to keep the key players in your sight to know what the arguments against the bill are.  For every Republican who stands against the proposed legislation, there is a Democrat who supports it.
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A Word From Our Clients

On August 20, 2013, in Interviews, by BradBernstein

We always love hearing from our clients, whether it’s a word of advice or a thank you.  For over 50 years we have worked with individuals to address their legal needs and have successfully helped over 70,000 to date.

With a team of attorneys working in a variety of legal services including immigration, personal injury, criminal defense, tax relief, and family law, we can help you with almost any legal issue you have.

We’re a family firm that prides ourselves on quality service and we are committed to giving each case the attention it deserves.

We’d like to share with you some of the kind words from our clients to let you know what type of law firm we are, and just how we can help you.  We show each and every client how much we care by giving them the time and focus necessary to handle their case appropriately. 

Leticia B. came to us to extend her stay in the US.  We were able to help her do just that.

“Spar and Bernstein are law offices which can extend great helping hands to people who need their help,” said Leticia.  “Due to the very efficient/effective services I have personally availed of from the aforementioned offices.  I will let others know that if they need the same help, they must choose Spar and Bernstein.”

We’ve been working with Inez R. for a while to help her get both her green card and citizenship.  A couple of months ago, Inez’s application for U.S. naturalization was approved.

“I find the Spar and Bernstein legal services to be excellent,” said Inez R.  “They have always kept me updated on the proceedings of my case and provided me with all pertinent information, making sure that all loopholes were covered.  From my green card application to my citizenship certificate.  Thank you Spar and Bernstein.”

If you have a similar situation or are just seeking legal advice, please don’t hesitate to call and set up an appointment.  We’d be happy to help.

Call us at 1-800-529-5465

*Attorney Advertising.  Prior successful results do not guarantee a similar outcome in the future.

It’s been more than a year since President Obama enacted a program that allowed thousands of young and undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally. 

Within that year some 500,000 people have applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a plan that allows young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children.  Of the half million youths who’ve applied for the program, 400,000 were accepted.  DACA allows these individuals two years to stay in the country and to work legally.

While Congressmen take their five-week vacation from negotiating and implementing law, activists are speaking out or increased action on the subject of immigration reform.  While DACA has yet to be voted in to federal law, many states have shaped their own policy on the issue and immigrants are left waiting for action to be taken in Congress.

With the way negotiations have been going the past few months it doesn’t appear that a decision will be made anytime soon.  President Barack Obama had hoped to have immigration reform passed by the House of Representatives in August but a bipartisan agreement couldn’t be reached.  Negotiations on the bill will continue into the fall when lawmakers return.

Republican Senators have spoken out in recent weeks, urging their fellow lawmakers to come up with a solution to avoid the liberal leaning Senate version of the bill to be passed by executive order; something the President has yet to make any comment on.

“I believe that this president tempted, will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress, to issue an executive order as he did for the Dream Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Fla., in an interview with WFLA’s radio show “The Morning Show with Preston Scott,” earlier this week.

While there may not be much going on in Congress the next few weeks, plenty of Senators and activists are airing their opinion.  It’ll be interesting to see just what happens when work continues as usual once recess has ended.
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As members of Congress head home for their five-week reprieve from managing the country, many are hearing from Americans in their hometowns that a comprehensive immigration reform bill is needed, and plenty are listening.  Activists have taken the Congressional vacation as an opportunity to personally address their concerns with Senators and Representatives as they speak out at rallies, town hall meetings and vigils.

Since the House of Representatives decided to shelf the immigration reform bill proposed by the Senate a couple of months ago, little has been done to develop a comprehensive plan that would address the status of the 11 million illegal immigrants hoping for a pathway to citizenship that was offered in the Senate’s bill.  Activists are taking this time to stir up momentum for the bill for when Congress reconvenes again in the next couple of weeks.

More and more Republican lawmakers are speaking out in support, not necessarily for the Senate branded version of the reform bill, but for some type of action that would see a comprehensive plan drafted.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has spoken out against an immigration bill for the past few months, but recently stepped forward stating that action needed to be taken.  Although he is a strong opponent of the Senate version of the bill he advised that another bill be drafted before President Barack Obama takes action by executive order; an action that is not guaranteed to happen.

Sen. Chris Christie, R-N.J., spoke in support of reform last month during a discussion with other Republican governors in Aspen, Colo.

“Allowing the system to continue in the broken way that it is now is negative for America’s economy and it’s also bad for these folks who now have had children in this country and some of them grandchildren in this country,” said Christie.

While no action is being taken during the Congressional recess on behalf of the lawmakers, there is plenty going on.  Activists are hoping that their action during this down time will encourage others to show their support for the bill in hopes that lawmakers will take notice and come up with a compromise or vote the bill into law.
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A young team of activists who spent weeks locked up in an immigration detention center have been released this past Wednesday.  The group which came to be known as the ‘Dream 9’ crossed the U.S. and Mexico border and were detained after trying to reenter nearly a month ago.

On July 22 the group of three activists started their journey and were later joined by the remaining six.  The five women and four men, who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children, staged the protest to shed light on the cases of thousands of immigrants deported under the Obama administration.

“When the Dream 9 – named for the Dream Act, which would provide such immigrants a path to legalization – attempted to reenter the U.S. at the Nogales, Ariz., port of entry on July 22, they were arrested.  They had been in federal custody since,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.  The paper continued to explain that, “on Tuesday, immigration asylum officers found that all nine had credible fear of persecution or torture in their birth country and could therefore not be immediately removed.”

Lisbeth Mateo, 29, who was one of the original three activists that started the journey, told Fronteras Desk that she decided to join the protest because she “was already at risk.”

“Being undocumented for so long, I was already at risk of being picked up,” Mateo said.

The men and women of the group have a long road ahead as they seek asylum in the U.S. to avoid persecution in their home countries.
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Groups of activists met in Los Angeles earlier Tuesday in an attempt to persuade the House of Representatives to take action in regard to the immigration reform proposal that is waiting to be voted on in the House. 

The activists addressed Republican House members with the message that if they don’t work with Democrats to pass the legislation that would see a clear pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., they will lose votes in the future.  Republicans run the risk of being branded as “anti-immigration and anti-Latino for a generation,” according to Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Salas continued to say that, “if [Republicans] work with Democrats to get it done, they could begin to regain their competitiveness among the fastest-growing group of voters in America.”

Although the House is closed for the month of August for a congressional recess, the activists met outside Los Angeles City Hall to lay out plans to target California Republicans, encouraging them to reevaluate the Senate bill that House Speaker John Boehner refused to pass in late May.

Boehner announced that the House will construct their own version of the bill that will most likely not include a clear path to citizenship for the undocumented, a move that many Democrats believe to be counterproductive.

President Barack Obama has made the immigration reform legislation a cornerstone of his second term and after negotiations fell through in May in the House, the President publicly stated that there “needs to be” a path to citizenship in the final version of the immigration bill.
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The fight to obtain American citizenship can be long and hard road, not to mention expensive, but some companies are working with their immigrant staff members to make the process a little easier. 

Companies including health clinics, hotels and a clothing factory have paired with immigrant advocates to offer citizenship assistance on-sight as a major job perk for those in need of immigration aid, according to the Associated Press.  These companies located in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and Silicon Valley are working to make it easier for the 8.5 million legal immigrants in the United States who are eligible to work to become naturalized.

It’s doubly beneficial for both the staff and company as it eases the financial responsibility for those starting the immigration process and it builds a bond between the worker and their work place.

“You create some sense of loyalty,” said Leonie Timothee, human resources manager at InterContinental Miami in an interview with the Associated Press.  The luxury hotel has helped 6 of their employees apply to naturalize this year alone.  “It is going to be a part of you for the rest of your life, and to know your place of employment helped you, assisted you in becoming a citizen – I think that’s a great deal.”

These businesses relieve some of the stress associated with applying to become a naturalized citizen by offering the services in one place and paying for the fees as a job bonus.  This prevents workers from traveling between law firms to find appropriate help and alleviates days off of work for the commute time.

Many immigrants in the country who are eligible to apply for citizenship after their 5 year wait time has ended, don’t end up applying right away because they can’t afford the fees.  With this new initiative, many are able to finally carve out their piece of the American dream.
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The proposed immigration reform bill S.744 proposed by the bipartisan Gang of Eight has been approved by the Senate and now waits to be voted on in the House.  We will keep this page updated as we hear more news.

Earned Legalization


Employment Sponsorship

Family Based Sponsorship

Employment Based Sponsorship

W Visas

Dream Act

Agricultural Workers


Earned Legalization

·         Provide provisional resident status to those in the country illegally as of Dec. 31, 2011.  Those who obtain provisional status would have to renew their status several times over ten years before obtaining a lawful resident status green card.  Requires unauthorized workers to pay back taxes before obtaining provisional resident status.

o   Requires those qualified to pay all back taxes.

o   Can’t have a felony or three misdemeanors.

o   Spouses and children are eligible.

o   Pay a $500 fee.

·         Speed up waiting time for green cards for people with approved visa petitions.

·         Provide green cards to children and young adults who qualify for the Dream Act.

·         Increase the number of H-1B visas by 241% from 85,000 to 205,000.

·         Provide new work visas for skilled and unskilled workers.

·         People who have been deported may come back and get provisional status if they have close relations.


  • Application
  • Background checks
  • Interview

Employment Sponsorship

·         There will be two tiers, Tier 1 and Tier 2, with 125,000 visas for each tier.

·         Five years track.

o   Tier 1 – High skilled workers with a master’s degree or above.

o   Tier 2 – Everybody else.

·         Based on a point system where you can collect points from:

o   Education

o   Years of employment in the U.S.

o   Occupation

o   Civic involvement (volunteerism)

o   Proficiency in the English language.

o   Family ties.

o   Age.

o   Nationality

·         System will favor the young and educated who are fluent in English.

Family Based Sponsorship

  • For spouses and children of provisional residents.
  • Brothers and sisters are no longer eligible.
  • Cannot file for children over 30 years old.

Employment Based Sponsorship

·         Immediate green cards for people with master’s degree or higher in the U.S. for science, technology, engineering or math.

·         140,000 visas available for employment based sponsorship but spouses and children are not part of that count.

·         Increase in H-1B visas.

W Visas

  •  Up to 200,000 people.
  • Good for 3 years.
  • You can apply for green cards based on the new merit system without job sponsorship.

Dream Act

·         They youth must file for provisional resident status.

·         Was under 16 years old when they entered the country and has a high school diploma or GED.

·         Once they get provisional resident status they can apply for citizenship immediately.

Agricultural Workers

·         They must have worked at least 100 days on a farm in the last two years ending Dec. 31, 2011.

·         Pay $500 penalty and pass background checks.

·         Get a blue card which lasts for eight years.

·         They can apply for provisional resident status after five years if they work in agriculture and pay their back taxes.
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It seems like over the past few months that the immigration reform bill has experienced long lag times followed by great successes.  From President Obama’s initial proposal at the beginning of this year to the bill reaching the hands of the House leader, the immigration reform bill, also known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, the S.744 bill has made great strides in only a few months, that is until recently.

House leader John Boehner decided earlier this month that he had no intention of bringing the Senate approved bill to a vote in the House.

“I’ve made it clear and I’ll make it clear again, the House does not intend to take up the Senate bill,” Boehner said during a press conference on July 8.  “The House is going to do its own job in developing an immigration bill.”

Although the House’s plan is to develop their own immigration reform bill, President Barack Obama announced that he expects to have a comprehensive bill by the fall.  It was his initial intention to have a finalized version of the legislation by August, but with the House deciding not to vote on the Senate approved version, a bill isn’t expected to be completed for another few months.

President Obama still stands by his initial intention of having a clear road to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally included in the bill.  House Republicans have raised their concerns with the issue, arguing that it sets a precedent for entering and staying in the country illegally.

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In a surprising move last week, one of the nation’s leading conservative media stations publically announced his support of immigration reform over Twitter.  The contested legislation has drawn a heated debate between party leaders and has spread beyond political parties as Americans take to social media sites to air their varying opinions on the issue.

Fox News CEO, Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter to offer his opinion on the heavily debated issue, breaking from the conservative opinions of his news station and anchors.

“Sen Reid right!  Boehner should allow House of Reps to vote on immigration.  Lead, for country’s sake,” Murdoch tweeted to his nearly 500,000 followers.

Many Fox News anchors have offered their differing opinions on the immigration issue with some even denouncing the Senate plan, according to Media Matters for America.  Earlier in the month, Sean Hannity praised Boehner for preventing the Senate bill from being voted on in the House, saying, “the decision by the leadership not to take the Senate bill is a good first step.”  He continued to advise House members to “take their time to get it right,” according to Media Matters for America.

Laura Ingraham and Bill Kristol, both Fox News contributors, also praised the House for taking their time with the immigration reform effort, stating that any bill agreed upon between the House and Senate would be disastrous.

President Obama announced earlier last week that although the bill will not meet his August deadline, that he sees an end in sight.  He explained while speaking with a handful of Spanish language media stations that he believes a fully prepared bill will be ready by the fall and reinforced that the bill will include a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrations living in the country illegally.
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It seems as though the drawn out immigration debate will be continuing for another few months, at least according to President Barack Obama. 

Last Tuesday, Obama announced that the much anticipated overhaul of the country’s immigration system would not meet his initial August deadline.  As House Republicans work on the bill, Obama said that he is optimistic that the legislation will be finalized this fall, but also said that it may take even longer due to the continued debate between party leaders.

While speaking with a handful of Spanish language media stations, the President insisted that the proposed bill will include a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.  Many Republicans have publically aired their discontent with this aspect of the bill, arguing that it sets a precedence for rewarding those who entered the country illegally.

“It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix this system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” he said during an interview with Telemundo’s Denver station.

Although the issue of immigration reform has been contested among GOP members, many see the need for some type of reform to ensure that they will have some type of Hispanic support during future elections.  But even with the understanding that there is a need for such change to our immigration system, the debate in the Republican driven House will stretch out the debate for a few more months.
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The immigration reform debate has dominated media coverage with each step forward or trip backwards.  With all of the emerging details and the vast array of channels the proposed legislation needs to pass through, we thought it would be helpful to offer up a timeline of important events in the bills development.

President Obama Unveils Immigration Reform Proposal
On Jan. 29, 2013, President Barack Obama unveils his immigration reform proposal.  The plan consists of four unique parts that would make up a comprehensive plan that would allow the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. a clearer path to citizenship.

President Obama’s plan would also strengthen the U.S. Mexican border and enhance infrastructure, streamline legal immigration for students, entrepreneurs and families, and crack down on employers who knowingly hire unauthorized immigrant workers.

Gang of Eight Introduce Bipartisan Bill
The bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the Gang of Eight, introduced an immigration reform bill to Senate that highlights details proposed by President Obama on April 17, 2013.  The bill offers a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the country before Dec. 31, 2011.  It also provides increased funding to increase security measures at the U.S.-Mexico border, increased the number of high skilled visas, and created new visas for unskilled workers.

Bill Approved in the Senate
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the immigration reform bill in a vote of 13-5 on May 21, 2013 after three weeks of markups.  Over 300 amendments were proposed for the bill with 141 approved.  The bill remained largely intact and is sent to be voted on in the Senate.

Senate Votes to Allow Debate on Immigration Reform Bill
On June 11, 2013, the Senate voted 82 to 15 in favor of the motion to officially allow debate to move forward on the proposed immigration reform bill.  Again, the bill remained largely intact after members of the Gang of Eight made it clear that they would hear recommendations to improve the bill but would not make significant changes that would alter the initial framework of the legislation.

Senate Approves Immigration Reform Bill
After weeks of markups and proposed amendments, the Senate approves the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill on June 27, 2013.  The bill is passed by a vote of 68 to 32, including 14 Republicans.
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It seems like everyone is offering their two cents in regard to whether the immigration reform bill will pass.  The latest contender, former President George W. Bush, said in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he believes that the bill has a chance. 

The surprising commentary comes as the House debates the bill that has recently been passed in the Senate.  Bush, a Republican, said that it’s “very important” that Congress fix the “broken” immigration system and that he believes that the bill “has a chance to pass.”

Although Bush didn’t endorse the Senate passed version of the bill specifically, he urged Congress to make progress.

“I think it’s very important to fix a broken system, to treat people with respect, and have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people.”  Bush continued to say that Congress seems to be making progress but that the legislative process can be “ugly.”

“It’s a very difficult bill to pass because there is a lot of moving parts,” Bush said.  “I understand sometimes you get legislation through that you want…But sometimes…it takes time for some of these complex issues to evolve.  And looks like immigration, you know, has a chance to pass.”

Bush pursued a comprehensive immigration bill while in office, but his efforts weren’t able to secure the passage of such a bill according to  He avoided directly commenting on the suggestion that the Republican Party would pass the bill to secure Hispanic-American votes for the next election. 

“The reason to pass immigration reform is not to bolster a Republican Party, it’s to fix a system that’s broken,” Bush said.  “Good policy yields good politics, as far as I’m concerned.”
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Now that the Senate has passed the immigration reform bill, it is up to the House to have the final vote.  During a meeting late last week the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said that any comprehensive immigration legislation cannot be offered with a “special pathway to citizenship” for those in the United States illegally.

This comes as a blow, but not necessarily a surprise as the Senate has a Democratic majority in favor of a detailed path to citizenship for the 11 million-plus illegal immigrants in this country.  The House however, had a Republican majority that is less in favor of the idea to offer citizenship under the new reform.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who leads the House Judiciary Committee said in a statement that he does not see a simple solution that would allow for illegal immigrants to work towards a special path to citizenship.  He said in an interview with Yahoo News that that House answer would not be “a special pathway to citizenship where people who are here unlawfully get something that people who have worked for decades to immigrate lawfully do not have.”  He sees something similar to a pathway to legal standing that would be comparable to a green card as an option, but no proposals have been made.

The bill isn’t expected to pass as it stands in the House due to the Republican majority, but with a need for immigrant votes for the 2016 Presidential campaign, the GOP seems to be considering options that would eventually allow for an amended version of the bill to be passed.
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We hear from four individuals who have been able to realize their dreams with the help of the Law Offices of Spar and Bernstein.
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WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday approved the most significant overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in a generation with broad bipartisan support, sending the bill to the Republican-controlled House, where there is significant opposition from conservative members and where the fight could extend into 2014.

What’s in the Senate Immigration Bill

But given the strong 68-to-32 vote, with 14 Republicans voting in favor, the Democratic leadership and the bipartisan group of eight senators who drafted the original bill seemed determined to savor the moment. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. presided over the vote as senators announced their positions from their desks, in a ceremonial procedure reserved for special occasions.

Leading up to the vote, many in the “Gang of Eight” that drafted the framework of the legislation took to the Senate floor to give impassioned speeches, including Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who is one of his party’s leading Hispanic voices. When Mr. Rubio finished, the other senators in the bipartisan group surrounded him on the floor, patting him on the back and offering words of encouragement. “Good job,” said one. “I’m proud of you,” said another.

The Senate bill provides a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country, as well as tough border security provisions that must be in place before the immigrants can gain legal status.

Though overhauling the nation’s immigration system became a priority for many Republicans after the 2012 presidential election, in which the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, was rejected by Hispanic voters, immigration opponents have mounted last-ditch efforts to derail the bill, which they say would offer amnesty without any real enforcement measures.

As the bill heads to the House, Republican elites and their well-financed pro-immigration groups are running up against opposition from the chamber’s most conservative members. Speaker John A. Boehner threw cold water on any hope that the House would vote on the Senate plan, and he insisted that whatever immigration measure his chamber took up would have to be supported by a majority of his Republican conference.

“I issued a statement that I thought was pretty clear, but apparently some haven’t gotten the message: The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” he said Thursday morning. “We’re going to do our own bill.”

The legislation — drafted largely behind closed doors by the bipartisan group — brought together an unlikely coalition of Democrats and Republicans, business groups and labor unions, farmworkers and growers, and Latino, gay rights, and immigration advocates. Along the way, the legislation was shaped and tweaked by a series of backroom deals and negotiations that, in many ways, seemed to mirror its inception.

Even late Wednesday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and an author of the bill, found himself on the phone with Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, trying to shore up support. In a 30-minute phone call, according to an aide, Mr. Schumer urged Mr. Christie to help persuade Senator Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Republican of New Jersery — newly appointed by Mr. Christie — to vote for the bill. (Mr. Chiesa was one of 14 Republicans who voted “yes” on Thursday afternoon to end debate).

The first big deal, however, came early on, at the end of March, when the nation’s top labor and business groups reached an agreement on a guest worker program for low-skilled immigrants. Disagreements between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation’s main federation of labor unions, had helped doom a 2007 attempt at a similar overhaul, but the two groups came together to create a program that will expand and shrink based on economic indicators — like the unemployment and job openings figures — and offer a maximum of 200,000 guest visas annually.
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It’s a big day for LGBT couples across the country as the Supreme Court makes two landmark decisions that will forever impact the gay community.   Early Wednesday it was declared that the federal government will now recognize equal rights for homosexual couples as for heterosexual couples.

The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the law barring federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages by the states.  In a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled the law as unconstitutional.

DOMA was signed into law in 1996 and prevented same-sex couples whose marriages were legally recognized by their home states from receiving the same benefits available to heterosexual couples under federal law.  The Justice Department initially defended DOMA in court during the Obama administration, despite the administration’s desire to repeal it.

In early 2011, the Justice Department changed courses, declaring that they found DOMA to be unconstitutional, stating that they would no longer defend it.

Additionally, the Supreme Court turned away the defenders of Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, clearing the way for gay marriage in California.  Same-sex marriages are expected to resume in California in the next few weeks.

This means that under federal law, homosexual couples are legally entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples, and this includes those with immigration issues.

These decisions mean great opportunities for gay couples, but what many haven’t considered is the impact on same-sex immigrant couples.  As all couples in the U.S. are entitled to share the same rights, this includes couples where one or both members are illegal.

This Supreme Court decision will mark an important day in history books, not only as the nation becomes more accepting of LGBT people, but also as it becomes more inclusive for the rights of immigrants all over the country.

Give us a call to see how this decision may impact you.

Call 1-800-BRAD-225 or 1-800-272-3225.

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