US Immigration Reform and Illegal Immigration have once again become headline news.
Terms like "Comprehensive Immigration Reform; "Guest Worker Program" and "Amnesty" have become daily features of media articles and conversations with co- workers, friends and family. While the United States is known as a nation of immigrants, the questions of how much Immigration and what type of Immigration have always been complex and controversial.
Some estimates show that there are 12 million illegal immigrants (sometimes called illegal aliens) already in the United States. At the same time, there are hundred of thousands of prospective Immigrants who have followed the present legal procedures to obtain an immigrant visa ( green card).These people have been waiting outside the United States and may still continue to wait for many years before they can become lawful permanent residents. It then generally takes another five years after obtaining permanent residence before immigrants can apply for United States Citizenship. There are probably millions more who would want to pursue legal immigration options such as a guest worker program if a new law is passed. Under present laws temporary visas are limited to approximately 66,000 for the Temporary worker category (H-2 visa).The H-1b visa category for professionals is also limited to a similar number.
After the collapse of the a bi-partisan effort to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2007, Immigration Reform bills are now being prepared and winding their ways through the corridors of power in Washington DC. As soon as any new legislative proposal is passed it is likely that passionate arguments for and against the proposals for Immigration Reform will once again surface. Immigration Reform is an issue which creates division both between and within the major political parties. Democrats and Republicans alike face conflicting demands on immigration from their constituents and lobbyists who are concerned about increasing job losses and families who are torn apart by deportations and work force raids. Employers continue to face serious and growing challenges to comply with workplace enforcement rules which impose penalties for hiring illegal workers.
Prosperous nations such as the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom will always attract immigrants that are in search for a better life. The problem is that many immigrants do not follow the proper immigration channels. The United States has an illegal immigration problem as immigrants enter the country illegally by crossing the border between the United States and Mexico, or they enter legally but overstay their visas. The United States Immigration Reform is specifically targeting the problem of 12 to 20 million undocumented workers in the United States.
The Immigration Reform is primarily focusing on the number of immigrants, both legal and illegal currently in the United States. Organizations and politicians that use the term "Immigration Reform" to support a decrease in immigrants include: American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA and Congressman Tom Tancredo. There are also several groups and politicians that support immigration to the United States, including: Senator John McCain, Congressman Chris Cannon and the National Immigration Forum.
President Barack Obama
"We are not going to ship back 12 million people, we're not going to do it as a practical matter. We would have to take all our law enforcement that we have available and we would have to use it and put people on buses, and rip families apart, and that's not who we are, that's not what America is about. So what I've proposed... is you say we're going to bring these folks out of the shadows. We're going to make them pay a fine, they are going to have to learn English, they are going to have to go to the back of the line...but they will have a pathway to citizenship over the course of 10 years."
The proposed Immigration Reform included the following topics.
Increase the protection of our borders
Increase the number of border patrol agents
Add over 350 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border
Add over 290 miles of vehicle barriers
Install additional cameras and radar towers
End the "Catch and Release Policy"
Increase funding to expand detention centers
Work closer with countries to accept their citizens back
Denial of visas to recognized crime members
Creating directories of crime syndicates from different countries
Implement the US-VISIT Exit Requirement System
Install biometric exit requirements at all airports and seaports
Create a biometric system for land borders to ensure that temporary workers are registered and leave the country before the visa expires
Issuance of the "No Match" Regulation
All workers must hold legal status in the United States
The Social Security Administration will send letters to employers explaining the potential liability of hiring illegal employees
Reduce the amount of documents accept to verify identity and work eligibility
Increase fines for hiring illegal workers
Increase investigation of employers who hire illegal workers
Federal contractors must use the Federal Electronic Employment Verification System to verify each employee
Increase the use of E-Verify to other industries
Make E-verify integrated with DMV's around the country to avoid illegal workers from obtaining job by showing a fake drivers license
Guest Worker Programs:
Reform the H-2A Agricultural Seasonal Worker Program
Reform the H-2B Program for non-agricultural seasonal workers
Extend the TN work visa eligibility to 3 years
Improve the current immigration system:
Streamline the background checks conducted by the FBI when required by the USCIS
Make sure that illegal aliens do not earn credits toward social security
The Naturalization Process:
A revised naturalization test (citizenship test) with focus on the American democracy, U.S. history and what is expected of a U.S. citizen
Increased training of immigration coaches that help applicants through the immigration process
The development of a web-based learning tool meant to increase the English language skills