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Increased Immigration: Solution or Threat?

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June 2009
Increased Immigration: Solution or Threat?

Those of us advocating a sensible, proimmigration policy are not seeking a mass amnesty with no further restrictions or conditions.

2009 brings us to a dilemma. On one side, we have the anti-immigration sector, asserting that with the current economic crisis, it is dangerous to allow any type of “amnesty” program or increased immigration. They argue that immigrants will take away jobs from U.S. workers, and will be a further drain on our already weak economy. On the other side, proimmigrant groups have their own arguments. One point is that legalizing the allegedly millions of illegal immigrants in the United States will allow us to benefit from the taxes they will be paying, and the employment taxes their employers will also then be paying. And allowing immigration from abroad will allow empty apartments/homes to be bought or leased; will allow retailers to have more consumers; and will increase services and goods all around. President Obama recognizes the stimulus that immigration can have on the economy, which is why his attention is also focused on comprehensive immigration reform in the midst of these tough times.

Two years ago, when Congress was considering comprehensive immigration reform, both former President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers and the Congressional Budget Office, headed by Peter Orszag, an economist closely identified with the Democratic Party, estimated that the benefits of additional immigrants outweighed the costs. If Congress allowed more immigration, then American taxpayers would come out ahead financially. Yet, after Congress refused to pass Bush’s plan to allow most undocumented workers to receive work visas and wait in line for citizenship, the Bush administration’s immigration policy rapidly deteriorated into a series of arbitrary raids on different companies, rounding up undocumented workers and deporting them.

Almost everyone will agree that the time has come for a sensible immigration policy. The ragtag group of laws, inconsistently enforced and rarely understood, that now passes for our immigration system must be brought into line with the realities of our economy and our 21st-century security needs. Our universities educate highly skilled foreign students only to lose that investment to other countries; our agricultural companies are at a loss how to legally hire low-skilled workers who are more than eager to fill the jobs that few Americans want, such as fruit picking and cleaning. Having the millions of currently illegal aliens on the books will allow us to track them and new visitors better. Legal visas and bank accounts would make it far easier to identify and track potential terrorists, suspicious financial transactions, and those who simply overstay visas. There must be a recognition that some immigration is necessary, not only to shore up our economy but also for security purposes. Those who argue that illegal immigrants should not be rewarded should face the reality of the situation—there is no practical way to deport them all, nor should we if the opportunity arises. Illegal immigrants are not a faceless, expendable mass—they run businesses, hire U.S. workers, fill jobs many Americans would not want, and are a tremendous asset to their communities and to our nation.

Those of us advocating a sensible, proimmigration policy are not seeking a mass amnesty with no further restrictions or conditions. The reality we acknowledge is that every day, drugs and smugglers pour over our borders, which leaves an easy opening for terrorists as well. Obama and his homeland security chief, Janet Napolitano, have indicated that they will get serious about strengthening border protection and cracking down on companies that hire illegal immigrants, which they should. They will also need to create a workable database through which bosses can verify the immigration status of their employees, prior to cracking down on companies. And, they will need to create a fair path to naturalization for those in the country without status. After paying a hefty fine, those individuals who have worked here for years, nameless, in fear of their place in our society, should be allowed to stay and contribute openly to our nation. President Obama has the opportunity to craft a sensible and dynamic immigration system—let’s hope that he succeeds!

VISA PREFERENCE NUMBERS FOR MAY 2009

FAMILY India                      Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st 08Mar02 08Mar02

2A 08Jun03 08Jun03

2B 01Jun99 01Jun99

3rd 08Jun00 08Jun00

4th 01Jan97 08Aug97

EMPLOYMENT India           Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st Current Current

2nd 01Jan04 Current

3rd 01Nov01 01Mar06

Other 01Jan03 01Jan03

4th Current Current

5th Current Current


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