The Complexity of Immigration Reform
The United States was founded by immigrants, people traversing the Atlantic Ocean in search of a new and better life. Much like our forefathers of the 1600 and 1700s, immigrants to the United States today are looking for the same thing. Immigration is an issue that is filled with the complexities of economic, cultural, legal and security.
According to an essay by James F. Hollifield, SMU Professor of Political Science, Director of the John Goodwin Tower Center at SMU, and a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center, in order to reform the country’s current policy and improve the process for those wishing to come into the country legally, one needs to understand the challenges lawmakers currently face.
Since the advent of the current presidential administration, immigration has become a hot topic issue, causing the country to engage in a sharp debate over the number of immigrants – illegal and legal – coming into the United States. Some of arguments that have taken place between lawmakers is what to do with the large population of illegal immigrants coming into and already living in the United States and how to manage the flow of refugees seeking asylum here. Because each side of the political coin has their own opinion, it has made it difficult to mobilize on a plan to modernize the current immigration system to meet the needs of those coming to the United States.
The current situation is frustrating since lawmakers cannot seem to reach a consensus on immigration policy. However, it is important to understand how complex reforming the current system is and what will need to happen before change will be seen. These issues must be addressed before the United States will again be able to experience a greater openness, human development and wealth.
Entry and exit rules are problematic
After World War II, the entire globe started to see an increase in migration with the United Nations estimating in 2015 that roughly 244 million people living in a different area from where they were born. That number is constantly changing as millions of people cross borders on a daily basis. Managing these migration flows is a challenge for any nation or state. These numbers fluctuate due to the increased demand for immigrant labor and people looking for a new job. Add to that the family network and the number grows exponentially.
Politics decide how people come in and out of nations. They have to make the rules about who can enter the country – as well as leave it – and the terms of the entry and exit. Immigration reform isn’t just about who comes in and out. It is also about the long-term cost of social integration, short term fiscal concerns surrounding a concentrated immigrant population in entry localities, and the security that surrounds immigration to keep the country safe from criminals and terrorists.
What about the rights of migrants?
Immigrants to the United States are looking to improve their life and that of their family. When their rights are added to the immigration reform mix, it adds to the complexity of the reform problem. Migrants deserve the right to apply for legalization, naturalization and citizenship, especially if they are already working here in the United States. Immigration reform has to take into consideration an immigrant’s chance at legalization. Otherwise, there is a chance that any social contract that extends rights to them in return of labor and residency is undermined. As a nation, immigrants should be allowed a basic package of human and civil rights that lets them become full members of society and allows them to flourish.
Not everyone comes here voluntarily
Another factor in immigration reform that muse be considered is why the immigrant is coming to our borders seeking asylum. Many of them migrating to the United States involuntarily because of war, hunger, depravation and political violence in their home country. These asylum seekers number around 65.6 million in 2017 and with the current state of many countries around the world, that number could continue to rise. It used to be that immigrants were granted admission to the country based on their skills and the ability to get on the path towards citizenship. Now, questions surrounding cultural concerns, like the country of origin, are taken into consideration before anything else.
Because of war and terrorist attacks, the immigration debate became even more heated. During the Cold War, immigrants had to take ideological tests of loyalty and many were granted asylum if they were fleeing a communist regime. The rules changed again after the 9/11 terrorist attack. A registry for male citizens of 24 Muslim-majority countries and North Korea was created in an effort to track terrorist activity.
Concern about culture and security has become the top priority of the Trump Administration when it comes to immigration reform. There needs to be a tradeoff between markets, rights, security and culture. Without it, it is hard to encourage reform, and tensions between ethnic groups, religious groups, and political groups has reached an almost fevered pitch.
Migration will not go away
As a country built on the migration of others, it is expected to see immigration – both on a national and international scale – to continue. The need for basic manpower and the competition for highly skilled workers is growing and there are plenty of economic opportunities for migrant workers. And they want to bring their families with them.
A need for reform will prevent immigrants from being smuggled into the country and alleviate the potential for harm. Extending basic rights to migrants is a priority as that is how they become contributing members of society and more willing to get on the path towards citizenship.
Contact an Austin Immigration Lawyer
If you or a loved one faces any immigration concern, talk to an expert immigration attorney. Immigration lawyers train to ensure they can accurately guide your actions and protect your rights. Remember, avoid notarios or “visa consultants,” who don’t have the training or skills to truly help.
At Nanthaveth & Associates, our skilled team passionately serves the Austin area. We work with immigrants from across Texas and have experience in all facets of immigration law. If you’d like to talk to one of our expert lawyers, contact us today! For your convenience, your first consultation is free. No matter your immigration concern, you’re not alone. Let us clear a path for you – contact us today!