The United States is not the only country in the world that struggles with managing undocumented immigration. Boatloads of immigrants routinely attempt entrance into Europe over the Mediterranean Sea. Japan confronts undocumented immigration in the Asian Pacific. Migration is a universal and continuous human phenomenon. Our country needs an immigration system that works for America.
Both parties have agreed for years that our country urgently needs immigration reform and both parties already agree many policy changes. I support passing now those reforms on which we already agree. We have been spinning our wheels on immigration year after year, but passing some reforms now brings some relief to our immigration crisis and moves us forward, hopefully laying the groundwork for further progress later.
Both parties agree we need a new guest worker program. Americans are eating more and more fruits and vegetables but we are growing less and less. Labor intensive agricultural production, like fruit, is being plowed up and the production moving off shore because it is becoming too difficult to source immigrant labor here in the U.S.
Both parties agree undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children should be given legal status and a pathway to citizenship. How can we deny eventual citizenship to a person who only knows this country as his or her country?
Both parties agree that foreign students who earn degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering, or math should receive green cards so they can use their education here and benefit the U.S. economy. The U.S. is only hurting itself and benefiting our competitors when we don’t permit such needed skills to be used in our country.
Both parties agree there should be more visas available for workers with special skills that American companies cannot find domestically. However, we do need to confirm that America does indeed lack such skilled workers and that companies are simply refusing to pay the market price for U.S. labor.
The biggest outstanding disagreements are whether or not to create a special path to citizenship, and the degree of border security. If we would set aside the question of citizenship and agree on a path to legal status, we could pass a great deal of immigration reform right now. That is far more progress than we have made over the last few years trying to agree on a comprehensive package.