Summary: The U.S. immigration system is broken. The federal government has failed to do its job to fix the problem and President Obama has broken his campaign promise to lead on this issue in the first 100 days of his presidency. States have had to act to fill the gap that the federal government hasn’t addressed. We don’t need fifty different immigration systems, we need one that works; one that protects Americans, helps our economy, and welcomes immigrants through a legal system. Each year billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are inefficiently spent on an overly bureaucratic system that hurts the economy, divides families and compromises our national security.
Principles for Reform:
- Protect Our National Security: The vast majority of Americans agree that our government has the responsibility of identifying and keeping record of who enters our country and on what business. This is vital to ensuring the safety of each and every American.
- Eliminate Red Tape: Our country is in dire need of a system that allows people to enter the United States legally, without having to wait an eternity. An efficient immigration system will encourage legal migration and curb the number of immigrants who enter our country illegally.
- Provide U.S. Businesses With Needed Labor Force: Several American industries, important economic sectors, and small businesses lack the labor force they need to be successful enterprises.
- Secure Our Border: We need to adopt an all of the above enforcement strategy. Our world changed on September 11, 2001. It is now more important than ever that we utilize the latest and greatest satellite technology, electronic sensors, and surveillance methods to defend our border. Securing the points of entry to our country also entails providing border patrol agents all the resources they need to do their work, and building a southwest border fence where appropriate. These measures will not only reduce the safety risk to our border agents, but provide maximum security for our citizens. The border fence should be built only in high-traffic areas and in locations where the geography permits.
- Fix the Legal System: We need a more efficient legal immigration system that advances policies to promote orderly, safe, and legal migration to the U.S. We should remove the percentage caps placed on each country and allow for a “first in – first out” system. The existing visa categories need to be adjusted to allow for more H1-B and student visas. In addition, we should do away with the diversity visa lottery and move those 50,000 visas to employment/family categories. This would decrease the ten-fifteen year backlogs that exist.
- Create a Viable Temporary Worker Program: While our first obligation is to those who abide by U.S. laws, we must also recognize the need for an adequate labor force when domestic workers are not available. A Temporary Worker Program (TWP) protects American jobs, benefits U.S. businesses that lack the workers they need, and prevents exploitation of immigrant workers. By creating a TWP, the U.S. government can more efficiently regulate the industries and businesses that employ temporary workers. Another provision of a newly instituted TWP would allow for a more flexible visa lottery. Currently, the number of temporary worker visas the U.S. State Department issues annually does not take into account downturns in the U.S. economy or the specific needs of the business community. The Federal Immigration and Nationality Act provides for a minimum of 140,000 employment-based visas each year. Of these, the government allots only 66,000 of them to the H-2B seasonal worker program. Creating a temporary worker visa allotment that is more aligned with the ever-changing business market will better suit both native and immigrant workers.
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