Monday, January 28, 2013

Immigration Reform: Round Two

Congress is working on immigration reform legislation. I definitely believe we ought to allow pathways towards citizenship for the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in the US, so long as they have not committed additional crimes while here.

The proposals being made are not that different from the policies I wrote about years ago. The actual senate plan's four principles are outlined below:

  • Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required; 
  • Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families; 
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and, 
  • Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

As long as we implement a plan that tackles the illegal immigration issue once and for all so we aren't in the same situation 20 years from now, we can call it comprehensive. If illegal immigrants wanting to work here come forward and are given documentation allowing them to do so, we'll have to implement an E-Verify system preventing preventing those who did not come forward to be able to find work. That will encourage many to come forward, and will prevent future illegal immigration. And along with securing the border, this plan seems to do that, even though I don't have a great deal of confidence in our "do nothing" congress. 

What I want to see are conditions and wages of many of the jobs done by illegal immigrants improved. By giving them the legal rights to work in the US, we will better be able to make this happen. Labor has for decades been hit with stagnant wages and declining benefits - all while productivity is at the highest levels ever. I do not want to allow any longer businesses to be able to exploit cheap labor that drives down wages and dehumanizes workers in the process. We need fair wages and wages that keep up with productivity and the cost of living. Immigration reform can most realistically make this happen, so I support it.

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