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Only limited US Immigration Reform likely in 2015

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Both Democrats and Republicans agree that the current US immigration system is broken and would like an overhaul of the system. However some observers have warned that President Barack Obama's recent 'executive action' on immigration may have done more harm than good to the long-term goal of implementing a new system that both parties can agree on.

In November last year, Obama announced details of his executive action which will allow approximately four million undocumented migrants to apply for temporary legal status. However without approval from Congress he is unable to implement more extensive immigration reforms.

The Director of the Mexico Center at Rice University, Tony Payan praised Obama's reforms as many people will 'essentially, become a little more integrated, in a legal, formal sense, into the American economy and the American society.'

However he also added that it may hamper the possibility of an overhaul of the entire system: 'it was also very counterproductive because I feel that it polarized many of the Republicans who might have been willing to do something on immigration.'

US Elections

US elections will take place in 2016, and since he has already served two terms, Barack Obama will be on his way out as President. If a Republican candidate is elected then it may be several years before we see any futher US immigration reforms. It is feared that a Republican president may even repeal some of the changes introduced via Obama's 'executive action.'

Some undocumented migrants are now wary of applying for legal status under Obama's reforms, as the US government will then have a record of who they are and where they live. If the next US president is a Republican and is not willing to extend the temporary protected status then they could be deported very quickly.

Republicans, who won majorities in November's midterm elections in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, have openly criticised Obama's executive action.

Speaker of the House, John Boehner said: 'Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he is acting on his own,' he said. "That is just not how our democracy works.'

Although executive action is likely to lead to a number of significant changes to the immigration system, the current situation, made even worse after the elections with the Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, means that more extensive immigration reforms are likely to be postponed until after the 2016 presidential election.