On January 28, 2013, a bipartisan Senate group consisting of four Democrats (Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado) and four Republicans (John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona) announced plans to introduce new immigration legislation. The Senators said their bill will address securing the borders, verifying immigration status, and creating a path to citizenship for approximately 11 million illegal immigrants present in the U.S. A 5-page “Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform” (http://www.c-span.org/uploadedFiles/Content/Documents/Bipartisan-Framework-For-Immigration-Reform.pdf) summarizes the policies beingproposed. It addresses the following four goals:
- 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.
On January 25, 2013, President Obama met with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the need to repair the “broken immigration system.” On January 29, 2013 the President is scheduled to travel to Las Vegas to discuss his views on immigration reform. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/25/readout-presidents-meeting-congressional-hispanic-caucus-leadership.
The need to reinvigorate the U.S. immigration system has been on Washington’s agenda for some time. In 2006, President Bush initiated an ambitious campaign for immigration changes, calling for securing the borders, facilitating a guest-worker program and implementing related legal reforms. Immigration reform also was one of the main focuses of President Obama’s 2008 election campaign. While the issue generated vigorous public debate, comprehensive change proved elusive.
Demographic changes among voters and their impact in the recent U.S. presidential election reportedly have helped stimulate efforts to reach a bipartisan solution. Many employers here are pushing for change, too. The present immigration system hinders their ability to acquire and retain global talent. In May 2012, the Partnership for a New American Economy and Partnership for New York City published the critical assessment, “Not Coming to America” http://www.renewoureconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/not-coming-to-america.pdf. Its title seemingly a play on the name of a popular 1988 motion picture, the report compares varying immigration policies around the world and the effect of those policies on economic growth. According to the report, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. were started either by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant. But that entrepreneurial infusion, it warns, may be a thing of the past. Now, arcane and sclerotic backlogs, low visa quotas and onerous bureaucratic procedures hinder the country’s business development. Today’s announced reform legislation would make it easier for U.S. employers to compete for global talent and grow the economy.
Further developments are expected soon.