3 obstacles to clear on the road to immigration reform

By: 
Guest Commentary, MIGUEL CASILLAS, News and Experts

Immigration is one of the most hotly debated issues of our time, often dividing Republicans and Democrats as reform measures are discussed.

Rather than build a wall along the border as President Donald Trump has suggested, a Mexican-American immigration attorney who’s a Trump supporter says for economic reasons alone, it’s time to put politics aside and build consensus for immigration reform.

“As a conservative and free-market proponent, I’m passionate about positive immigration reform because its economic benefits would be extraordinary,”  Jacob Monty, author of “The Sons of Wetbacks” and founder of the law firm Monty & Ramirez LLP (www.montyramirezlaw.com), said. “Reforming our immigration system will ensure that businesses have access to those workers and that our economy thrives.”

Immigrants comprise about 25 million people in the American workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. A Wall Street Journal article cited an assessment by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that concluded immigrants are integral to the nation’s economic growth.

But with much of the immigration discussion focusing on the 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S., Monty says that’s a good place to start when dissecting the need for reform.

“Our immigration system is fundamentally broken,” Monty said. “Millions of immigrants live in uncertainty and fear. Businesses are baffled by convoluted hiring practices.”

Monty lists the main obstacles he thinks need to be overcome in order to broker positive immigration reform:

  • Codify DACA. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals provides a level of amnesty to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, but no clear path to citizenship. “Their continued undocumented status is shameful,” Monty says. “The parents of DACA kids did not come in the lawful way, but because of the failure of our immigration system to establish a viable guest worker program, there were no proper channels to enter the country.” One solution, Monty says, is to change the law so as to regularize the status of the 11 million illegal immigrants, over half of whom have been in the U.S. 10 or more years.
  • Improve the vetting process. Monty points out the common national perception of illegal immigrants being associated with crime. An out-of-date vetting process, Monty says, is partly to blame. “Our vetting process is terrible,” Monty says. “The State Department issued their visas many years ago, but now they’ve overstayed their visas so we don’t know what’s happened to them since those visas were granted. Let’s fingerprint them and find out who they are, do background checks. That will make America safer.”
  • Streamline the worker visa program. Immigrant labor’s importance to U.S. agriculture is well-documented. In 2017, changes to the agricultural worker visa cleared the House subcommittee. “Similar expanded visa programs are needed for highly-skilled immigrants, such as in the computer field,” Monty says. “Without them, America’s most profitable corporations could cease to function. Meanwhile, we need to push through visa changes that would provide a steady supply of agricultural workers, who are essential to the productivity and security of our food supply.”

“I believe,” Monty said, “that the reasons for changing our immigration policy to accommodate the 11 million human beings here – people who have not committed major crimes, who are contributing to our economy and who are assimilating to American culture – are just as compelling as the conditions that motivated Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the fight for the civil rights of African-Americans.”

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