TODAY'S QUESTION: How should lawmakers address immigration challenges?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 | 3:17 p.m. CDT

Last week, a federal judge blocked parts of Arizona’s new immigration law just ahead of it going into effect. The New York Times writes that a judge issued a preliminary injunction on the part of the law requiring police officers to determine someone’s immigration status if that person has been stopped for other reasons. The judge also blocked the section that says legal immigrants could face state charges if they don’t carry documented proof of their immigration status.

On the tails of this announcement came an article from ProPublica, highlighting a memo prepared by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services that presents alternatives to comprehensive immigration reform that the Obama administration could use to bypass Congress. According to the article, the Obama administration anticipates that Congress may fail to pass comprehensive reform this year.

Ideas suggested in the memo include increased use of “deferred action,” or USCIS discretion to delay deportation, specifically for young people who — if Congress passes the Dream Act — could potentially become citizens following the completion of a college degree or two years of military service. Other ideas are changing “extreme hardship” standards so more immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents could stay without fear of deportation, and granting green cards to a portion of immigrants in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status. Temporary Protected Status is usually meant to prevent deportation for those who would be sent home in the midst of natural disasters or civil war.

According to the article, a USCIS spokesman said the memo is an internal draft and “should not be equated with official action or policy of the Department.” He added that the agency believes bipartisan legislation and “smart, effective enforcement” is the “only solution” to immigration issues.

And, just this week, Sen. John McCain added his voice to the call for Congressional hearings on changing the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment gives automatic citizenship to anyone born in the U.S., including the children of illegal aliens. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of children from illegal parents jumped from 1.3 million in 2003 to 4 million in 2008.

How should lawmakers address immigration challenges?

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