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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

THE ELEMENTS OF THE 2009 IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL

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We don't have actual legislation to examine yet, but Senator Schumer has outlined the major components of the bill he'll introduce:

1.      Illegal immigration is wrong, and a primary goal of comprehensive immigration reform must be to dramatically curtail future illegal immigration.
 
2.      Operational control of our borders--through significant additional increases in infrastructure, technology, and border personnel--must be achieved within a year of enactment of legislation.
 
3.      A biometric-based employer verification system--with tough enforcement and auditing--is necessary to significantly diminish the job magnet that attracts illegal aliens to the United States and to provide certainty and simplicity for employers.
 
4.      All illegal aliens present in the United States on the date of enactment of our bill must quickly register their presence with the United States Government--and submit to a rigorous process of converting to legal status and earning a path to citizenship--or face imminent deportation.
 
5.      Family reunification is a cornerstone value of our immigration system.  By dramatically reducing illegal immigration, we can create more room for both family immigration and employment-based immigration.
 
6.      We must encourage the world's best and brightest individuals to come to the United States and create the new technologies and businesses that will employ countless American workers, but must discourage businesses from using our immigration laws as a means to obtain temporary and less-expensive foreign labor to replace capable American workers; and finally
 
7.      We must create a system that converts the current flow of unskilled illegal immigrants into the United States into a more manageable and controlled flow of legal immigrants who can be absorbed by our economy.
 


The problem I see for now is that some of these provisions could be great - or terrible - depending on the details. For example, encouraging the "best and brightest" to come to the US is great, but then Senator Schumer talks about discouraging business from using immigration laws to attract cheap foreign labor. That sounds good, but if this is code for coming up with protectionist rules that are about keeping out foreign workers rather than curtailing fraud.

And the last point - creating a system to convert the flow of unskilled illegal immigrants into a controlled flow sounds great. Maybe we'll get an actual guest worker system - something that was lacking in the 1986 immigration law that many blame for the failure of that law to end the problem of illegal immigration. But the last phrase - "can be absorbed by our economy" - is pretty broad and could mean extreme limits on numbers or something more flexible with the market determining numbers.

When the bill comes out, all will be revealed, of course, but in the mean time we'll have to keep guessing.

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Comments

  1. Legal_Alien_from_Roswell's Avatar
    Every thing is wishy-washy, right from a lack of a timeline from obama, to contradicting vote predictions between Rahm and Reid and then the token "elements" to CIR 2009 by Schumer.

    We're all better off not having any hope invested in this eye wash.
  2. cn's Avatar
    greg

    by when can we expect to see the details of the bill?
  3. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I have not heard a date, but am guessing it will be later this summer.
  4. SkilledImmigrant's Avatar
    Sounds like more of the same to me. Enforcement first, with no real details of benefits.

    1 - Doesn't change anything. Illegal immigration has always been ... illegal

    2 - Great, so the only thing that gets a deadline is enforcement. Thanks.

    3 - Any biometric system would have to cover the entire US population (citizens included) to work, otherwise illegals will just pretend to be US citizens as they ALREADY do. Good luck getting privacy watchdog groups to sign on with that plan. Apparently no one remembers the failure of REAL ID, which many states simply rejected due to cost alone.

    4 - Ummm that's no different from the current system. Anyone who's here illegally is already facing deportation. No law is going to change the fact that deporting 12 million people - if you can find them - is quite impossible.

    5 - Meaningless statement. Illegal immigration doesn't consume "room" for legit immigration because the former doesn't go through the official system.

    6 - Ummm ... OK. That's a vague statement too with no mention of specific benefits

    Point #3 is the biggest issue because it could result in a fight that derails the entire bill. Bottom line is, there's no way to implement a biometric system without effectively creating a surveillance state, which runs counter to liberal ideology. Hopefully we can invoke the Power of Pelosi on that issue.
  5. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    I agree with SilledImmigrant - if Americans are told they must submit fingerprints for a secure ID to get a job, they are not going to like it (not even mentioning the possiblity that if created, once upon a time the database of employment FPs will be run against the database of unsolved criminal cases). This is definite no-go. On the illegal immigration contribution I think I know what he means - he is trying to restructure the conversation to consider all immigration in an attempt to prove that increasing quotas for legal immigration is not going to impact total immigration as some of the people who now come illegally will be able to come legally. It's a nice way to put it, but I am not sure it is going to work.
  6. Raji's Avatar
    No clues on how to streamline the legal immigration system! Yes, there is a hint on how things may work in the future for legal skilled professionals, but what about those stuck in the system at this time?? The unjustifiable backlogs, the families of legal professionals struggling physhologically, emotionally, and financially due to the complete disregard of a the current USCIS system? How many lifetimes will a person need to become n immigrant in this nation and provide for his children, and comtrinute to the fullest of his ability? Is the United States the only nation in the world with an existing immigration policy (by definition legal)that resembles an apple pie bed? And an endless series of governments unwilling to do anything about it?

    Of course, illegals have the clout, have the vote base, and have the politicians running scared. But given that a policy of legal immigration does exist in this country, why the need to dabble in more policy? Why not sort out the process - the problem is the process, everyone knows it, everyone acknowledges it, and yet all we hear about is a bills, laws, Senate, and Congress. Goes to show, the concerns is about the ultra-cheap labour that corporations get from the illegals, not the value that professionals add to this nations economy. What kind of Alice-in-Wonderland world are we living it?

    Raji
  7. annonymous's Avatar
    "Of course, illegals have the clout, have the vote base, and have the politicians running scared. But given that a policy of legal immigration does exist in this country, why the need to dabble in more policy?"

    Needless to say who will drive future policies in this country. As long as Americans remain totally divided on issues one group or the other will be in position to make or break elections. Don't just think about immigration, but think future of this country in itself. Bed of roses is pretty much gone. Jobs are hard to find (even before crisis) and being shipped overseas. Social security is in shambles, Medicare will be bankrupt in less than 7yrs, healthcare costs are skyrocketing etc etc. Tax base is slowly eroding. Middle class is left high and dry in growth. Salaries are stagnant while inflation is rampant.

    Immigration reform or not, people in higher power understand where the future lies. GM America is in bankruptcy and GM China/India/Russia etc is making profit. Go figure. For businesses market is totally saturated unless you happen to invent Google/iphone. Look at it from your own perspective if coming to this country is really such a good deal, when future of growth lies somewhere else. Rating agencies have already downgraded UK from AAA rating, US is next in the line.

    Best and brightest do not even want to come here anymore. Their own countries are doing excellent and offer more oppurtunities of growth. That is why you see so much fraud in h1b program. Why would an Indian from IIT want to come here when their own country is excelling and offering more oppurtunities? Its mostly people from bottom of the ladder who prefer to come here nowadays. Worse is for people like us who have already spent significant amount of life, that feel stuck.
  8. SkilledImmigrant's Avatar
    @Raji: What can I say? People like you and me with actual skills and advanced technical degrees apparently don't matter because:

    1) We're less likely to have family (read: US citizens who can vote) in the US
    2) There are much fewer of us than the real illegals

    The result of the above is a classic democracy fail, where an important issue is ignored because it has little clout in terms of vote numbers. There's much less politically to gain from helping us than there is from helping illegals. How ironic: the very freedom and choice-of-the-people we idealize the US for is the noose around our necks.

    There was a previous post on ILW that showed that the admin could provide relief for us via presidential fiat. The sheer buying power of a skilled immigrant, who is usually at the higher end of the economic ladder in his homeland, is grossly underestimated/unstudied. There are so many people who would pour billions (in total) into this country for a chance to live the American dream. Home and car sales would go through the roof, especially at current prices.

    But the right is terribly afraid of a neighbor named Amir as opposed to Bill, and the left seems only to care about amnesty for people who ran across the border.

    Recently I was reading articles about tech advancements in energy, and realized that at least 3/5 of the stories I was reading were from *outside* the US. Perhaps that is where we should be looking.
  9. SkilledImmigrant's Avatar
    @annonymous: "inflation is rampant" Check your facts, man: http://money.cnn.com/2009/06/17/news/economy/cpi_consumer_price_index/?postversion=2009061708

    Things are actually cheaper this year than previously.
  10. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "The result of the above is a classic democracy fail, where an important issue is ignored because it has little clout in terms of vote numbers. There's much less politically to gain from helping us than there is from helping illegals. "

    This is only true short-term. Long term, however, either people will have to come illegally again, or the legal immigration system needs to be changed to reflect demands of the economy. As soon as you get people to think long term, the solution for illegal immigration becomes the solution for legal immigration. I am thinking, Obama understands it.
  11. SkilledImmigrant's Avatar
    @Legal and no longer waiting:

    "Long term, however, either people will have to come illegally again, or the legal immigration system needs to be changed to reflect demands of the economy. As soon as you get people to think long term, the solution for illegal immigration becomes the solution for legal immigration. I am thinking, Obama understands it."

    LOL @ "long term". Very few politicos have been able to think like that because practically speaking your 1st job as president is to get a second term, and beyond that you're out of the running anyway, so anything you do had better show results in the near term or it's a waste (speaking from the view of most politicians).

    You'll have to excuse my cynicism/fatalism, but I've been hearing about immigration reform since I came to the US for school in 2001. Graduated from 2 top research schools (I'm not showing off, I'm just saying the current system doesn't care how "qualified" you are, you're still screwed) with an advanced degree, only to find myself jumping through hoop after hoop while doing the limbo thanks to policies that are essentially unchanged.

    Ironically, GWB had some decent plans for skilled immigrants* in his 1st term before the far right crazies hijacked the reform dialog in 2006/2007 & pushed the US agencies into an enforcement frenzy.

    *I'll admit his plans for the unskilled probably weren't that great

    *sigh*
  12. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    SkiledImmigrant,
    I agree, however, it is never too late to remind politicians of long-term consequencies of their decisions. In his statement on immigration policy before the election, Obama explicitly pointed out that the country needs a system that allows guest workers to come work legally, but also recognizes that some of them will want to stay permanently and provides legal ways for them to do so. McCain is insisting that the guest worker provision is included in the CIR because without it, the CIR is going end up exactly where the 1987 amnesty ended up - people will still have to come illegally after the reform is over. That's two very important politicians on both sides. Also, Obama strikes me as a kind of person who tries to understand why things don't work and how to fix them in a way that they don't have to be fixed over and over again. Basically, I understand and appreciate your cynisism, but I do think there is hope. Maybe, I am an optimist.
  13. SkilledImmigrant's Avatar
    @Legal and no longer waiting: Despite what I've said, I hope you're right and I'm wrong .
  14. A PT's Avatar
    @SkilledImmigrant
    "The sheer buying power of a skilled immigrant, who is usually at the higher end of the economic ladder in his homeland, is grossly underestimated/unstudied. There are so many people who would pour billions (in total) into this country for a chance to live the American dream. Home and car sales would go through the roof, especially at current prices."

    I totally agree with this, consider a close to one million legal immigrants pumping money into long term investments (housing, business etc.) which would bring employment opportunities for the Americans & jump start the sagging economy. They have no clue about the purchasing power of the immigrants.
  15. annonymous's Avatar
    "Things are actually cheaper this year than previously."
    Inflation is down due to economic crisis and dampened demand around the world. World economy is expected to recover and so will the inflation. Add to it the fact that US govt is selling treasuries as if there is no tomorrow. Fed is printing money to use up all of amazon. More money chasing few goods will certainly result in high inflation (or hyperinflation). Don't believe news channels saying economic prospects are improving. Just look around you.
  16. George Chell in Singapore's Avatar
    "We must encourage the world's best and brightest individuals to come to the United States and create the new technologies and businesses that will employ countless American workers, but must discourage businesses from using our immigration laws as a means to obtain temporary and less-expensive foreign labor to replace capable American workers."

    OTHERWISE WE WILL CONTINUE LOOSING JOBS TO COUNTRIES SUCH AS SINGAPORE AND IN THE PROCESS RUN UP OUR DEBT DUE TO LACK OF TAX AND SOCIAL SECURITY REVENUE AS TAXES WOULD BE PAID BY FOREIGN CITIZENS IN OTHER COUNTRIES.

    Grassley and Durbin may want this, but I certainly dont and I hope all of you are with me!
  17. eliejulz's Avatar
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