Transform immigration

America would not have achieved its greatness without the contributions of generations of immigrants from all over the world.  The immigrant experience is central to American history and our way of life.  We must continue to be a country that welcomes immigrants, but do so in a way that is stable and accountable, not the failed system we have today.

Politicians of all stripes, right, left and center, admit that our immigration system is broken and has to be fixed. But that’s where much of the consensus ends.

Still, most Americans and their representatives believe that we must get control of our borders for public health, public safety, and national security reasons.

Americans have grown rightly suspicious and skeptical of thousand-page, “comprehensive” bills, whether they deal with taxes, health care or immigration. Voters want some assurance that their representatives actually know what’s in the bills they’re passing.

Immigration reform will be best accomplished in piecemeal, sequential fashion, and it must be done through the regular legislative process not via Executive actions that clearly exceed President Obama’s authority. Until Americans are convinced America has established some level of border security, it will be very difficult to pass meaningful legislation dealing with the millions of illegal immigrants already here.

A pathway to legal status for the 11 million illegal immigrants already here would be dependent on 1) a secure border, 2) more robust and systematic workplace verification systems to prevent corporations from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and 3) anyone in the US illegally must meet certain strict requirements including passing a criminal background check, paying a fine and back taxes, learning English, and waiting a period of years so they don’t jump ahead of those who’ve played by the rules.

Reforming America’s legal immigration system is also a priority. It’s time to move from a family-based legal immigration system to a skills-based one. America needs to attract and keep immigrants who have needed skills that can raise productivity levels and help raise living standards for all Americans, native born and immigrant. In addition, we must ensure that immigrants arrive with the skills necessary to support themselves and don’t become reliant on government assistance.

With the kinds of sensible reforms outlined above, CSP believes immigration will continue to benefit America for generation to come.