The Time for Immigration Reform is Now
Our immigration system is broken.
A decades-long problem does not get fixed with a bumper sticker solution. It’s time for Congress to enact a permanent fix that is workable and reasonable and that sets clear guidelines for the many complex, intricate facets of immigration: high-skilled labor and day labor, the so-called “DREAM” generation and those who have illegally entered the United States for no other reason than to commit violent crimes. When you say the word immigration, it invokes family considerations, business implications, fairness arguments, concerns for human rights and respect for the rule of law. So, what is the answer to this important, but volatile issue that is so emotional for so many? It’s time to start the debate and figure out the best path forward.
Currently, we have no idea who is here and why. This must change. However, the process of documentation gives the government the tools to decide who may stay and who must go home. This process of documentation does not grant citizenship or the benefits that the term bestows. Importantly, to avoid potential abuse or fraud, it would require payment of taxes for the benefits that are enjoyed by being in the United States. Those that are here for no other reason than to commit crimes should be returned to their former homes. I think this is easily agreeable by both parties.
It’s time to deal with the truth that our immigration system is a disaster and to get it fixed.
Additionally, our Visa system is broken. We often have no way to track individuals who enter the country or whether or not they actually leave when they said they would. Accordingly, we should implement a documentation system whereby if someone is permitted to enter the country, that person’s photograph, biometric data like a fingerprint and other identifying information are documented.
I like many conservatives remain opposed to amnesty and believe that enforcement of immigration laws is the best deterrent for further illegal immigration. Unfortunately, our laws have long been ignored. As Congress begins to discuss what immigration legislation would look like, I have proposed that it debate the merits of some of the ideas summarized in the Texas Solution. While I don’t agree with all points on the list, it’s a start. One of these ideas is a temporary, verifiable guest worker program that would provide temporary documentation and temporary status with clear limitations, while requiring proof that both parties, employers and employees, pay taxes. If a temporary guest worker program was implemented, I would not support a program that included a pathway to citizenship.
The reality is that there are millions of individuals already living here under the radar. We must determine who is here and decide who we want to stay. At the head of the line should be those who have served in our military, which is already the law. We should also welcome those immigrants whose skills will benefit our country and one way to do so is by getting rid of the arbitrary visa lottery system. We have a deep need for high-skilled labor, and while we work on a long-term plan for STEM or science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for American students, we should do what we can to discourage foreign workers who are American-educated and American-employed from taking what they’ve learned here, going back home and competing against our workers. This should not be controversial.
Lastly, immigration reform must be handled in conjunction with border protection. Our country can’t have one without the other. Contrary to what the current administration says, the border is not secure. The permanent solution may be to handle both matters in tandem and to implement immediate border protection measures, such as providing adequate resources (human and equipment) to state and local law enforcement entities, putting boots on the ground and enacting stiffer penalties for certain elements, like the scourge of human trafficking. Of equal importance is this: Congress needs to rid itself of the “not-in-my-backyard” mindset when it comes to border violence and trafficking. The drug cartels’ networks have expanded into extortion and kidnapping and impact every state and district. And, Hispanics are often the victims of this lack of border protection.
The country cannot continue to ignore the obvious. Confronting this issue is daunting and complex. But ignoring it will not solve the problem. It’s time to deal with the truth that our immigration system is a disaster and to get it fixed. And that’s just the way it is. ⎯
Congressman Ted Poe represents the 2nd Congressional District of Texas and is a member of the House Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee.
IFA’s Position on Immigration Reform
The International Franchise Association strongly opposes any enforcement-only approach. Immigration reform must address the underlying problem: the broken immigration system.
- Future Needs: Over the next decade, IFA projects that the number of jobs in the service sector will grow one and a half times as fast as the U.S. labor force. At the same time, the number of 16 to 24 year-olds in the labor force will not grow at all.
- Current Shortcomings: Unfortunately, our immigration system does not reflect America’s need for workers. Our economy provided 134 million jobs last year, yet the federal government makes only 10,000 green cards available for service industry workers each year. The estimated annual need is 400,000.
- Worksite Enforcement: IFA strongly opposes placing excessive burdens and fines on employers. Employers have a role in ensuring our immigration laws work, but the obligations must be reasonable.