When asked about immigration, John F. Kennedy once responded, “[e]verywhere, immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.” Although not an Immigration Attorney, John F. Kennedy recognized the answer to solving immigration involved more than mere enforcement and deportation.
In symmetry with John F. Kennedy, on June 22, 2011, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 by citing the beneficial impact that immigrants have made on the U.S. economy. Supported by Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Harry Reid of Nevada, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 is as an attempt to fix a long-standing broken, immigration system. Different than most “enforcement-only” immigration bills, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 attempts to propose what American Immigration Council’s Executive Director, Ben Johnson, calls, “lasting reform.” The goal of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 is to create a counter-balancing strategy for the current population of unauthorized immigrants to “get right” with the law. Johnson also stated, “[w]e need a practical solution that works for everybody, that addresses the current mis-documented employees and allows employers to maintain those workers. Those employees are critical to their business. Any sensible solution has to account for those people.” While protecting U.S. citizens’ job and maintaining safety interests, the bill also attempts to allow the 12 to 15 immigrants illegally present in the U.S. before 2007 to become legal residents, a fact your Arizona immigration attorney can certainly appreciate.
With the paradoxical dilemma that illegal immigration bring to the U.S. economy, most immigration reform bills fail to recognize the entirety and complexity of immigration. Seeing the solution as securing U.S. employment and increasing safety by tightening the borders and increasing deportation, most immigration reform bills focus primarily on increasing enforcement to the already over-burdened enforcement bodies such as the Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security.
Previous immigration reform bills failed to recognize the beneficial impacts that immigrants, both illegal and legal, have on the U.S. Consequently, illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. working, raising their families, and otherwise acting as responsible citizens, have been left with fewer options to legitimize their efforts in the U.S. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 attempts to address this failure by including a path for those in the U.S. illegally who have proven they are making a beneficial impact to remain here. In order to balance the competing interests of protecting American jobs, while at the same time, enabling immigrants to continue to benefit the U.S. economy, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 includes both a mandatory employment verification system and a program requiring undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to register with the government, learn English and pay fines and taxes in order to begin the path to becoming Americans.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 also creates the Standing Commission on Immigration, Labor Markets and the National Interest, which can be be explained in depth by a qualified Arizona immigration lawyer. The Commission’s would regulate future flows of legal immigrants by studying and evaluating the labor market and economic conditions, and then recommending quotas for temporary and permanent employment-based visa programs to Congress. The hope is to find the balance of protecting American jobs, while enabling immigrants to continue to benefit the U.S. economy.
The bill further avoids the negative affects of immigration enforcement by incorporating the DREAM Act, which creates a path to legal status for individuals who were brought to the U.S. in an undocumented status as children, as long as they meet age and other criteria and enroll in college or the U.S. military. The bill also incorporates the AgJOBS bill, which provides a path to permanent residency for farm workers and revises agricultural employer sponsorship requirements.
Just like other Immigration reform bills, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 also attempts to promote more effective enforcement by providing additional resources and responsibilities to the Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security. The bill expands penalties for passport and document fraud, establishes new requirements for the Department of Homeland Security to track cross-border movement, creates new rules to ensure U.S. citizens are not unlawfully detained, and establishes new criminal penalties for fraud and misuse of Social Security Numbers.
Whether the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 or other bills will truly fix the broken immigration system, the complexities and competing interests in immigration reform and regulation leave the future of immigration laws unpredictable.
While politicians continue to attempt to fix the broken immigration system, Immigration Attorneys remain the best source to learn what options are available for foreign nationals (with or without legal status) who wish to protect their interests and legitimize their residency in the United States.
The Arizona immigration attorneys at Gunderson, Denton & Peterson, P.C. are qualified to assist you or to answer any immigration related questions you may have.
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Gunderson, Denton & Peterson, P.C.
By Brent Gunderson
1930 N. Arboleda, Suite 201
Mesa, Arizona 85213