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Immigration Reform

Immigration ReformOur system of managing immigration is ineffective and inappropriate in virtually everyone’s view. There is wide agreement that more illegal immigration exists than is appropriate, safe, or fair for anyone. There is also shared concern that on one hand our economy depends on undocumented workers, yet on the other hand our system consigns them to a dangerous life in the shadows. Concern is even higher for the children of undocumented workers who have grown up here and don’t know the country from where their parents came or its language yet face the prospects of being deported there.Proposals to address the problems include:

  • Invest in Capacity to Process Asylum Claims—Hire more judges and staff as well as build more facilities to more quickly process the claims of those who show up at the border fleeing dire circumstances in their own country
  • Reform the Visa System—Make it more rational and efficient and allow more workers to come into the country who are needed for particular roles
  • Increase Border Security—Build a more extensive and effective fence or other barriers on the southern border and provide more enforcement resources to secure the border, particularly in areas where the flow of illegal immigration is highest
  • Aid the Countries from Which People Are Fleeing—Reduce the urgency felt by those seeking to come to the US by helping address the underlying problems in the countries they are fleeing
  • Provide a Path to a More Viable Status for Those Who Entered Illegally as Adults—Establish criteria by which undocumented workers can gain a more secure status. For example, criteria might include having a job and no criminal record for some period and/or paying a fine as punishment for coming into the country illegally. The new status could be citizenship, or it could be the ability to apply for driver’s licenses, social security numbers, and/or work permits
  • Provide a Path to a More Viable Status for Those Who Entered Illegally as Children—Officially allow them to become citizens or apply for driver’s licenses, social security numbers, work permits, and/or college or other professional and technical training programs, since they were not responsible for the decision to come into the country illegally and may be ill-equipped to return to their country of origin
Congressional Rank: 10th
(8.9 Average Rank across participating congressional offices)

Achievability Note

Several of the immigration reform measures listed above attract broad bipartisan support, including boosting capacity to process asylum claims and reforming the visa system. However, we frequently heard doubts about passing these broadly supported measures in our congressional meetings because of what was often referred to as immigration hardliners on both the right and the left. Many Republicans won’t support any immigration reform if the legislation doesn’t also provide for significantly greater investment in constructing borders walls than Democrats will accept. Many Democrats won’t support any immigration reform if the legislation doesn’t also give them the provisions on paths to a more viable status for undocumented workers and their children that many Republicans won’t accept.