There are two distinct fronts in the immigration battle and congress gets easily confused. The first is what to do with those trying to get in through improper channels; and the other, what to do with those who already made it in. Congress, particularly the house of representatives gets hung up on the former and their main concerns include strict border enforcement, human smuggling, and influx of children at the border or through “birthright citizenship”. Those already in did not necessarily came on foot through illegal crossings, many came in by plane with temporary work, student, or cultural visas and decided to stay and became illegal with expired visas. There is no clamor to deport them because these are skilled workers who are needed economically.
The 2013 immigration reform senate bill engineered by the “Gang of Eight” was approved in a historic 68-to-32 vote because it dealt with the economic needs of the country. It provided for temporary worker program, increased visa numbers for skilled foreign workers, and a nationwide employment eligibility verification system. It was negotiated with business groups, labor unions, and agricultural interests. It included a path to citizenship for eleven million illegal immigrants because any businessman or economist knows that “human resource” is key to a vibrant business and economy.
When it was brought to the House floor, the debate reverted to problems at the southern border crossings highlighted by the sudden influx of children carrying the hopes and dreams of their parents for a better life. The real focus was lost and so was the immigration battle. It is unlikely that Obama’s executive actions of November 2014 will help the cause.
The president and congress should make immigration an economic issue focusing only on those already in the country and the illegal ingress a separate problem to be dealt with separately. At last count, the cost of border enforcement is at $2.5 billion since inception in 2014.
The current republican debates lament and blame China as the economic threat and is winning the economic war. Not because they are more productive or have the technological edge which they do not. They are gaining ground and will likely surpass all the Western economies because of their one advantage: ‘Human Resources”, skilled or otherwise.
Our government must start thinking ahead and focusing on who would help build and work our factories and farms; who would buy our goods and services; who would invent and develop new technologies; who would generate tax revenues; and, who would support the growing gray population in their golden years? Immigrants, that is who.