Reforming the American Dream

ID-10047916America has been both praised and scrutinized for its immigration policies in the past. America is a country that was founded and has flourished due to immigration. Whether it is to escape danger, or search out better economic opportunities, America has always been a destination for those who wish to achieve change. Within the past decade public opinion concerning immigration has been constantly fluctuating. In 2002, a study showed that 55% of Americans were in favor of decreasing legal immigration. This was most likely due to the fear and anguish instilled by the events of September 11th. As of now 74% of Americans are in favor of providing a way towards legalization to current illegal immigrants. Although the public wants some type of reform to be implemented many government officials don’t seem to share their concern. Immigration reform has been put on the backburner for much too long, and it has now come to the point where Representatives must act. Due to its urgency, an agreement concerning immigration reform should be reached within the upcoming year.

Earlier this year, the senate passed The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act with a 68 to 32 vote. The bill is composed of three main steps to help deal with illegal immigration at the border, in the workplace, and in homes. The first step is to provide a firm but fair process to illegal immigrants who wish to become legal. This process has a strong focus on families with both legal and illegal immigrants; the main goal is to keep families from being separated and provide firmer ground for undocumented immigrants to stand on. The second step is to implement harsher consequences for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and illegal immigrants who seek to work. Employers would be required to use E-Verify, a program designed to determine whether certain individuals are legally allowed to seek employment. Employers who hire illegal immigrants tend to pay their workers much lower than average pay; however this pay is much higher than what many of these immigrants would get paid in their home country. The third step is to increase border control over a ten year period. Increasing border security would consist of doubling personnel, and extending border fences. Funding required for the project will consist of $46.3 billion. Many republicans believe that strengthening the border should be priority one, doing so would lessen the amount of illegal immigrants entering the country. Republican concern for stronger border control is understandable considering the increase of illegal immigrants after the recession. However, Many Republicans also believe that illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. should not be given the reward of citizenship due to the fact that they initial entered the U.S. illegally.

The main issue this new bill faces is gaining access to the House of Representatives. Republican representatives have refused to let this new bill be voted on for multiple reasons, many of them unwarranted. The first is because of their loss of faith in the Obama administration. Republican representatives have seen the problems associated with Obamacare, and foresee the Obama administration facing problems implementing this new bill, just as they did with Obamacare. The government shutdown has shown the lack of cooperation in our government, and many representatives feel these same problems will be faced when dealing with immigration as well. Other republicans feel that the bill as a whole should be thrown out due to its rewarding of legal status to immigrants who have already entered the country illegally. Perhaps the most logical argument is the bills concerns of border control. Many republicans believe that priority one should be the strengthening of our borders, after borders are strengthened, then something can be done concerning current illegal immigrants. Concerns aside, the fact is that something needs to be done.

Republican Representative John Boehner previously stated that the House of Representatives “will never go to conference on the Senate bill”. It is because of Representatives such as Boehner that our nation is at a standstill in relation to immigration. If Boehner is against the Senate bill, then he should at least develop a plan which addresses immigration reform in some way. However, he seems to believe that if he ignores the bill long enough it will just fade away. In 2002 the Center for Immigration Studies, found that households headed by illegal immigrants imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government in 2002 and paid only $16 billion in taxes. This vast difference between cost of illegal immigrants, and the taxes paid by them is mainly generated through illegal employment. Being paid under the table allows for illegal immigrants to avoid taxes, while still having access to government programs. Not only would the border security, economic opportunity, and immigration modernization act address this problem, but according to the Obama administration it would increase our economy as well. Not only would it reduce the deficit by $800 billion, but it would also create 3.2 million more jobs.

Although the border security, economic opportunity, and immigration modernization act may have a few problems, such as cost, it is a solution. As the economy slowly increases, so will immigration. If no reform is enacted then illegal immigration will continue to rise. A rise in illegal immigration means a rise in financial issues, instability in families, and unfair working conditions. If Republicans refuse to work as a part of the democracy then they should at least have the decency to present some other type of solution. As of now, the type of solution to the illegal immigration problem isn’t important, what is important is something is put into action at least by the end of 2014. Government officials need to put their pride aside and provide some sort of footing for the 11 million people in the nation uncertain of their futures.

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