Immigration Lawyer Hopeful for Reform

By Andy Meek

Memphis immigration lawyer Greg Siskind is feeling optimistic at the moment that an immigration reform bill is closer than it’s been in awhile to materializing in and passing through Congress.

It was something President Barack Obama, in his inauguration speech a few days ago, pledged to take on in his second term. And Siskind’s thoughts on the matter are worth noting, because he’s a particularly prominent immigration lawyer, so much so that he got some national recognition last week.

An article published jointly by ABC News and Univision named him a top immigration expert to follow on Twitter.

His firm Siskind Susser PC is one of the largest immigration law firms in North America. Its website is a big draw in the immigration law sphere, drawing weekly visitors from around the world.

“There are a few things that should make the prospects a lot better now for immigration reform rather than the way things looked under the last president, because of the election and the role that Latinos played,” Siskind said.

The country also is now at a point, he says, where there is a net negative inflow of immigrants into the country.

“Some people are going back,” Siskind said, “but there’s also been a record number of deportations.”

Other factors coming together to make this likely a politically ideal time to pursue immigration reform include the country’s need for more skilled immigration, a sentiment Siskind agrees with. There’s widespread agreement on both sides of the aisle that the economy needs more entrepreneurs and more highly skilled immigrants to join the U.S. workforce, and Obama made that point in his recent inaugural address.

The president, Siskind said, has essentially been dealing with the enforcement side of the immigration equation until it’s been politically feasible to move forward on a major bill. The end of the George W. Bush presidency, Siskind said, saw the same phenomenon.

“Tough enforcement really started at the end of the Bush years and has continued unabated,” he said.

All that remains to be seen now is whether Congress will attack some component of the problem or will pursue a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Siskind is betting on the latter. Moreover, he expects a bill to be introduced in late February or early March, with final action within the next six months.

Siskind has been practicing in Memphis and Nashville since 1990. He’s also written several books on immigration law, and he can be followed on Twitter via the handle @gsiskind.

His first job after graduating from the University of Chicago School of Law was as an attorney at the Nashville firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP. Around the time in the early 1990s when he was thinking about opening a solo law practice, he discovered an Internet service called “newsgroups,” essentially forums where people of like-minded interests congregated.

He found one of those message boards on the topic of immigration and discovered what he described as a “hunger in people to access information on immigration law,” something that he says has remained pretty much unabated ever since.