Is balanced immigration reform on the table?
American businesses, communities and families are affected by the shortcomings of outdated laws that make up our existing immigration system. But this is the year that it could all change.
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up weeks of work on its reform bill, S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — passing it out of committee by a bipartisan vote of 13 to 5.
The bill is now headed to the Senate floor for a vote.
Essentials of reform
Workable and effective immigration reform must reduce the unreasonable, counterproductive, multiple-year backlogs in the employment-based immigration system.
It must also ensure fair ways for American businesses to have adequate visas to hire much-needed immigrant workers from all skill levels who help grow our economy, while protecting U.S. workers from unfair competition and all workers from exploitation.
And it must effectively deal with the undocumented population.
The Senate immigration reform bill, S.744, is a good start to framing a balanced solution that works for businesses, families and immigrants.
Now, the bill is far from perfect.
For instance, in exchange for more H-1B visa numbers, the bill places higher burdens on legitimate H-1B employers, including mandatory recruitment provisions and a change from the existing four level prevailing-wage system to a three-level system.
On the family front, the bill completely eliminates the ability for U.S. citizens to sponsor siblings for green card status.
Clearly, S.744 is a compromise from all perspectives. However, it provides a solid framework to begin fixing our broken system.
Creating a workable system will also help re-build our economy and re-focus our national security efforts.
Immigrants make up our past, our present and more importantly, will assure America's future.
Immigration policies have a profound impact on all aspects of American life, be they social, political or economic.
Presently, the immigration problem weakens our national interests by slowing economic growth, forestalling family unification and undermining strategic foreign policy objectives.
The time is now to move forward and encourage our Senators to pass the best possible immigration reform bill.