What Is The Significance Behind The Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Last June 27, the proposal for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform finally made the senate’s approval gathering a 68-32 vote with 14 Republicans voting yes while the Democrats once again proved their solidarity. For the Democrats, this is such a big accomplishment as they have been pushing developments within immigration policies for less than a decade now. But what is it about the immigration reform that our lawmakers could not resist passing up?

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform act was the initiative of the “Gang of Eight” which are composed of 4 Democrats and 4 Republican senators. This is to propose a 13-year path to citizenship to 11 million illegal immigrants which accordingly can eventually help the American economy thru payments of their taxes once they become legal American citizens. The proposal has more than 900 pages and was released in April 2013.

 Historical Concepts of the Immigration Reform

Basically, the immigration reform was conceptualized in 2004 by Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) in view of their compromise legislation. Both senators believed that the current immigration system is simply not working. With the flawed immigration laws, illegal entries of undocumented immigrants continued while around 11 millions of them are working illegally right inside the U.S. territories. These workers are basically undocumented and underpaid and therefore are not liable to pay their taxes. With immigration reform, however, all the issues of illegal immigration could be addressed. However, even the proposal was approved by the majority of the senators in 2006, it died down in 2007 right in the House of Congress simply because majority of the congressmen were Republican conservatives who are up against legalizing illegal immigrants right from the start.

Fast forward to 2013, the Gang of Eight have worked long and hard in overhauling the system within the immigration proposal. They have revised and enhanced the conditions and made the proposal more comprehensive and more suitable to most Republicans’ sense of agreement. The Gang of Eight promised themselves that this time, all will be well. And in June 27, just like the old days, the immigration reform has once again presented and passed with majority of the Democrats voting yes and a third of the Republicans also conceding.

Essentially, the Democrats from the start would want to grant permanent residency to the 11 million undocumented immigrants to turn them into useful and tax-paying citizens of the U.S. The Republicans, on the other hand would want America to have tougher and more solid border enforcement especially in the U.S.-Mexico border areas. These two aspects are what the two parties think the most important contents of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill and also highlighting the major contents of the immigration reform act.

Why the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Was Reformulated?

The immigration reform bill may not gather many votes if not for its significant contents that would incidentally enhance the flawed immigration policies that affect American economy and security. That is why included in it are stricter laws such as implementing tougher sanctions against employers who will hire illegal workers. Instead, the government would implement a guest worker program which will be the most possible legal source for cheap labor from guest workers to U.S. businesses. Technically, this was the same act that was approved by the senate in 2006 which gathered a vote of 62-36 but despite President George W. Bush support, the bill died out in its track right in the U.S. House of Congress.

When President Obama gained office in 2009, he again pushed for the reform. But with many Republican lawmakers pointing out health care issues and the plummeting of the American economy, the President also felt that this would not be the appropriate time for critical changes specifically in reformatting the immigration laws. So once again the bill was shelved. However, the senator Democrats believe that repairing the flaws on the immigration policies would somewhat answer the issues in immigration control while legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants can bring up large revenues thru taxes. This can therefore subsequently help solving the deficits that hinder the provision of Americans’ right to health care coverage.

But what are the contents of the proposal that made the President and a third of the number of Republican senators agree to pass the proposal now? Here are the main points.

Important Contents of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    • Improving border security. There would be the appropriation of funds to add more border patrol agents and installing additional monitoring devices specifically along the Mexican border. This would mean putting up more checkpoints, installing many CCTV cameras and adding more fences along the border. Based from stats, almost 70% of the illegal immigrants are Hispanics and use the border to illegally penetrate American territories.
    • Tougher penalties against employers hiring illegal immigrants. All businesses will be mandated to check their employees’ immigration status via E-Verify data network. If employers are found to be breaking the rules, heavy fines and serving jail terms may be imposed.
    • Imposing guest worker program. To curb out companies hiring illegal immigrants, only seasonal foreign workers can work legally in the U.S. and once they finish their contracts must return to their home country. The main purpose of the worker program is to strengthen the agriculture industry to support food security.
    • Granting amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants to have their legal residency and citizenship. This part is what the Republicans congressmen in 2006 are opposing about to which accordingly can erroneously provide immigrant lawbreakers the right to American citizenships. But with the 2013 draft, undocumented immigrants will be required to pass criminal background checks, must learn English, must pay back taxes and must pay all required fees for their legalization process. It may take years, however, for the immigrants to get their green cards though they will be under provisional citizenship once they meet the requirements and be approved.

undocumented immigrants

undocumented immigrants

Right now, not every American on the street is happy with the passing of the reform bill by the Senate though this is a winning victory for those who have done their best to amend the immigration laws. However, not too many people understand the concepts behind the reform. If we look closely at the main contents of the proposal, the comprehensive immigration reform can provide the right solutions to enhance border security. It would significantly stop illegal immigration and it will literally expand the taxes collection from the 11 million working immigrants while providing Americans the leeway to secure their jobs that is rightfully theirs.

These aspects if analyzed could benefit America as a whole. Contrary to many Americans assumption that they will be deprived of many benefits, jobs and income once the bill is made into law, the positive opposite is what is expected to happen.

On the other hand, the passing of the bill in the Senate is good news for the undocumented immigrants who have stayed in the U.S. for many years especially the young ones who were born of parents who are illegal immigrants. Within few years, they will eventually become naturalized American citizens. Nevertheless, we may yet to see how the House of Representatives may go about this reform bill. We must not forget that at the Senate, majority of the senators are Democrats while in the Congress the Republicans are outnumbering the Democrats. We must also not forget that compared to the 2006 immigration reform bill which died out right in the House, there would really be a lot of debate before we can eventually see the fate of this bill.

Hopefully, like what the most of the senators see that the total implementation of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform is one great thing that could ever happen in America, the majority of the Representatives hopefully will also see the good things about this immigration reform.