Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Stumbling Blocks

The Gang of Eight's immigration reform proposal will soon be debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee. During this time, opponents of immigration reform will do what they can to offer amendments to the proposed bill, in the hopes that they can derail the proposal. Here are some of the main issues that could potentially thwart the proposal:

1. Border security: Even though Marco Rubio was one of the senators who crafted the initial proposal, he is already advocating increased border security measures. Specifically, he is concerned that the language in the proposed bill does not do enough to ensure that unauthorized immigrants are barred from obtaining green cards until there is actual proof that the border is secure.

Most senators would be fine with increased border security provisions. But, such provisions may serve as a stumbling block if immigration advocates view the provisions as unobtainable. After all, a path to citizenship is irrelevant if the path can only be triggered by an unrealistic benchmark.

2. Internal security: The Department of Homeland Security's border patrol presence is much greater than it used to be and the government has made it much more difficult for unauthorized immigrants to cross the border illegally (although when there's a will there's a way). However, government efforts are severely lacking when it comes to monitoring people already in the country. We saw this on display after the Boston bombings when it was discovered that some of the players may have been permitted to reenter the United States even though they were no longer involved in the activities linked to their visas.

DHS is already proposing some modifications to its current procedures to correct these monitoring deficiencies, which shows that the efforts do not necessarily have to be tied to a comprehensive reform bill. But as senators start looking into the verification procedures and background checks used to ensure  prospective immigrants and visa holders are here legally and do not pose a security threat, look for some interesting amendments that might irk immigration reform proponents.

3. Employment visas: Business and labor groups negotiated at great length to come up with a compromise for the optimal number of employment visas that will be allocated for various types of jobs.  But many institutions have specific employment needs and they will be lobbying behind the scenes to maximize their positions, which could potentially upset the carefully crafted balance.

4: Cost: The cost of comprehensive immigration reform has not yet taken center stage but expect to see much more about it in the upcoming weeks. Implementation costs are much easier to quantify than assumptions about the long-term economic impact of immigration reform. Politicians and political interest groups will start to highlight studies and analyses that purport to accurately quantify the cost. For example, the conservative Heritage Foundation just released a study that put a long-term 6.3 trillion dollar price tag on the package. How they arrived at that figure is less important than the fact that this number will be repeated in the news over and over again and will register with some.


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  2. As mentioned comprehensive immigration reforms are not yet taken but we will going to see much more about in coming days.

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