Immigration: Written Laws

Immigration Statuses

Permanent Residency, Asylum, F-1, J-1, H-1B, etc.

Who Makes the Change?

US Legislature (Senate & House of Representatives)


It will likely be a long process (months to years) for the political leaders to make changes to the written immigration laws, and it will likely be widely reported in the media before any changes take effect

It is typically easier for political leaders to change laws when a single political party controls both the presidential office and a majority in the US legislature. The Republican Party controls the presidential office and a majority in the legislature; however, the Republican Party is in a period of transition.  In order to make changes to the immigration system, ALL of the Republicans in the Senate would have to agree on the changes that should be made.  There are groups within the Republican Party with very different goals.  For example, there are pro-business portions of the Republican Party which traditionally have been in favor of immigration for highly-skilled workers; and there are protectionist portions of the Republican Party which would like to limit most immigration.

The Republican Party’s majority in the Senate is small.  Given the different ideologies of the Republican senators, it will likely be difficult for the Republican Party to gain enough votes for immigration reform without having a plan that is appealing to both the pro-business and the protectionist portions of the party.  In addition, the Republican Party will likely also need to gain support from non-Republican senators and build a coalition in order to change the immigration laws. 

The process of internal negotiation and coalition-building typically takes a lot of effort and time to develop.  The Republican Party will have to determine how much effort and time it is willing to devote to immigration reform, compared to its other priorities which will take similar time and effort.  Therefore, the speed of immigration law changes is mainly dependent on the resources that the Republican Party allocates to coalition building and developing a plan that has broad appeal in the Senate.  Accordingly, any legislative changes to the immigration laws will likely take time, and would be widely reported before any changes take effect. 

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