The Ins and Outs of Immigration Law Reform in 2014
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the United States immigration system is flawed and broken. There are currently more than 11 million undocumented aliens living across the nation, many of whom are employed without authorization. This
President Barack Obama has plans in place to enact a smarter, more effective immigration system, which continues to work on better border security while creating a more streamlined approach to letting family members and eligible employees enter the country legally. The plan requires anybody who is currently in the United States and undocumented to become compliant with the law through paying taxes and a penalty, learning English, and undergoing a series of background checks before being eligible for lawful status. The plan also requires every business and every worker to abide by the same requirements.
The four principles of Obama’s proposal include the following:
- Continued Efforts to Reinforce Border Security: The President has already doubled the number of Border Patrol agents in the U.S., but more agents are needed to crack down on the number of gangs and criminal networks engaging in passport and visa fraud, and human trafficking. Further, the U.S. must improve its partnerships with bordering communities and law enforcement, to create a stronger system to oversee illegal immigration.
- Streamlining the Legal Immigration Process: The U.S. immigration system should reward immigrants who are willing to abide by the laws of the land and work hard. The President’s proposal seeks to do the following things:
- Keep families together
- Cut the backlog for employee-sponsored immigration
- Create a “startup visa” for job-creating entrepreneurs
- Grant green cards for advanced STEM diplomas
- Enhance travel and tourism by facilitating legitimate travel while not compromising the country’s security
- Expanding the visa program for investors and U.S. economic development
- Create a new visa category for employees who work for federal national security science and technology labs
- Encourage integration
- Have a better system of addressing humanitarian issues for immigrants fleeing persecution or violence
- Earning Citizenship: Under President Obama’s proposal, illegal immigrants would finally have a way of earning U.S. citizenship and it is hoped this will help them to come out of hiding to pay taxes and live by the laws of the land, like other Americans. The proposal would create certain provisions for legal status, as well as create provisions to qualify current illegals for permanent legal residency status, earned citizenship in exchange for military service, create a judiciary and administrative review process, and provide new resources to eliminate fraud.
- Cracking Down on Employers Who Hire Illegal Aliens: The proposed immigration reform measures by President Obama would do the following: set up a mandatory phased in electronic employment verification system, seek to crack down on fraud and identity theft, and provide protections for all workers. President Obama’s proposal would also crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrant workers through increasing monitoring and accountability of all employers, expanding the E-Verify system of 2009, deporting illegal immigrants who commit crimes, streamline the removal process for nonimmigrant national security and public safety threats, improve America’s immigration court system, and prioritizing convicted criminals and violent offenders for deportation. Finally, President Obama wishes to protect those hardworking young people whose parents illegally brought them into the United States when they had no memory of where they came from.
There is a humanitarian and political imperative to address the 11 million undocumented illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. The current reforms and future proposals suggested by President Obama underscore the importance of why immigration reform is not only very much anticipated, but long overdue.