Would Would Immigration Look Like…?

…if it were fixed? Both political parties are making noises about “fixing immigration”, the Republicans in what I suspect is a futile attempt at wooing Mexican-American voters:

Both Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have indicated in the days following the election that immigration reform will be a top priority. Boehner said he is “confident” that Republicans can reach a deal with the White House.

the Democrats presumably as constituent service:

Calling the Democratic Party the ‘party of diversity,’ Senate majority leader Harry Reid said plans are in place to bring up an immigration reform bill next year.

The Nevada Democrats says Republicans block such legislation at their own “peril.”

Reid spoke to reporters Wednesday hours after a national election in which President Barack Obama won a second term and Democrats could increase their Senate majority by two seats, pending the outcome in North Dakota and a decision by Maine independent Angus King to side with Democrats or Republicans.

The editors of the Washington Post urge immediate action:

A creative compromise could take many forms, such as conferring legal status on undocumented immigrants and removing the threat of deportation for those with no criminal history but postponing the question of citizenship for a finite number of years. That wouldn’t be ideal — it could be portrayed as a program of second-class citizenship. But it would put an end to state legislation designed to harass undocumented residents and would allow immigrants to lead open, secure lives.

The other components of an immigration deal will be only marginally easier, but without a comprehensive bargain that includes the “smaller” pieces the two parties are unlikely to resolve the central question of the 11 million. Democrats should be prepared to agree to additional enforcement measures, especially in establishing a watertight system for employers to verify that job applicants are in the country legally.

Legal immigration will also have to be changed. Among the urgent priorities is attracting skilled workers and especially students who receive advanced degrees at American universities in science, technology, engineering and math. Too often, they are turned away; that is lunacy.

At the same time, businesses must have timely access to adequate numbers of seasonal and agricultural workers, and U.S. citizens’ relatives who wish to immigrate should not languish for years. Both parties will have to compromise on the mechanisms by which annual quotas are set.

Any compromise that isn’t based on the realities of immigration, legal and illegal, into the United States, will be a policy failure. To the extent that we have an immigration problem at all, we have a problem with immigration from Mexico. IMO bilateral negotiations must play a part in “fixing” immigration.

I’ve already made my views on improving U. S. immigration policy clear. We need to increase the number of work visas granted to Mexicans wishing to work in the U. S. greatly, by an order of magnitude at least from its present absurdly low number. We need serious workplace enforcement. I have no opposition to the DREAM Act as long as it’s enforced strictly. I strongly suspect it will have very little actual effect because so few will be able to provide the documentation necessary to qualify.

I’ve also expressed my views on H1-B visas: I think we need a central clearing house to match prospective employers with the workers who are already here before expanding the number of such visas available. That way we’ll be able to identify the real need as opposed to backdoor chaffering on wages by employers. The present approach for doing such things is a cruel hoax.

Whatever reforms are implemented in our immigration policy the immigrants of the future will little resemble those of the past. The U. S. economy and the demographics of Latin America and the Caribbean strongly suggest that over the period of the next twenty years we won’t see the numbers of new immigrants from those regions that we have for the last twenty.

How would you “fix” the U. S. immigration policy?

3 comments… add one

  • PD Shaw

    I would hasten the move towards biometric cards as a means of employer verification, as well as a replacement for security theatre.

    For agriculture, we should consider a government program to help with any capital investment needed to convert farm operations dependent on below minimum wage labor (either machines or greenhouses). I can’t justify any other subsidy in my mind, such as paying some of the wages needed to attract seasonal workers to Western Colorado to pick strawberries.

    For disaster relief, we need a speedy system in place to bring construction workers into the country, with possible quicker path to citizenship as a benefit.

    I don’t mind handing citizenship to a graduate of an American college, but I would prefer they pass an English fluency exam as well. Otherwise, employers will utilize lack of English to depress wages and two-tier their employment tracks, particularly in technical areas.

  • Jimbino

    There are immigration problems to fix that have nothing particular to do with Mexicans:

    The alien gay partner of a citizen, even if they are legally married, lacks the immigration rights of heteros. The partner of any citizen lacks immigration rights if they are single. We are a nation that encourages any indolent dolt to become a resident as long as it serves “family reunification.”

  • TastyBits

    The problem with illegals becoming legal is money and politics. Unless there is border and employer enforcement, nothing will change. Disregard what the politicians say, and pay attention to these two items.

    After 9/11, border security should have been a top priority, but closing the border will deprive businesses of cheap workers and politicians of an issue.

    Gridlock is subterfuge. When it is politically or financially expedient, things get done, and those in the middle get screwed. Lucy will tee-up the immigration football, and … *sigh*

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