What do the midterm elections mean for immigration reform?

Now that the midterm elections have passed and Republicans have taken control of the Senate, there’s growing concern over how President Barack Obama will move forward with immigration reform. Obama delayed any decisions concerning the issue until after election day, stating that he didn’t want a subject as important as this to become a victim of political battles between parties. With election day in the rearview mirror, the country is on the edge of its seat as it awaits a plan to repair the broken state of the immigration system.

Obama reassures the public
On Nov. 5, 2014, the day following the midterm elections that gave the Republican Party control of Congress, plans to make changes by the end of the year are still in order. According to The Associated Press, Obama has stated that he will take action on reform in 2014 with the aim of improving the immigration system in the U.S. as well as border security measures. This addresses a pressing concern, as Cristina Jimenez, co-founder of United We Dream, explained to PBS.

“What I think is urgent for the immigration communities is that the president has made a promise to address immigration because what we saw in 2013 and even this year is that Republicans were unwilling to work on an immigration reform bill that was passed by the Senate,” Jimenez stated. “And, very clearly, Speaker Boehner said that they won’t move forward on immigration. And what we have rather seen is Republicans time after time voting to defund programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for example.”

What’s next for immigration reform?
Despite this attempt at reassuring the public that immigration reform is on the way, some are skeptical about how Obama will be able to move forward now that Republicans have taken control of Congress. As Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., wrote in The Guardian, the results of this election could mean the death of legislation already agreed upon by the Senate that would fix many issues with the immigration system. However, as he noted, there’s still hope for the 5 to 8 million undocumented people living in the U.S.

“Nearly 500 days ago, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that would have addressed a broad range of fixes for the nation’s immigration system, but that legislation will die once the new Congress is sworn in,” Gutierrez wrote. “President Obama cannot do with executive actions all of the things that the comprehensive Senate bill would have done. But he can act – on a comparable scale – to improve our security and reduce the destruction that mass deportations have unleashed in America’s families.”

For now, supporters of immigration reform are left largely in the dark to speculate on their own about how Obama will move forward with immigration reform – or if he even can. But with the promise to make a decision by the end of this year, it’s only a short matter of time before the American people find out.