The turmoil in our immigration system stems from the vast mismatch between our outdated immigration laws and the nation’s current demographic, economic, and social landscapes. Comprehensive immigration reform bills were on the table in 2006, 2007, and 2013 in Congress, but failed to pass.
Much of the media focus is on the administration’s actions directed at asylum seekers and those crossing the southern border. However, less noticed is that through processing delays, soaring denial rates, increasingly restrictive procedures and new regulations, the administration is taking the flawed immigration system and making it even worse. The result is that just when birth rates are at record lows, when more workers are aging out of the labor force, and when job openings exceed unemployed individuals by more than 1.4 million (as of July 2019), the administration is shutting the siphon on all forms of legal immigration (which includes asylum seekers). The administration’s actions are exacerbating our growing demographic challenges, threatening our economy’s growth, and undermining our nation’s immigrant tradition and values.
Undoing the administration’s actions is critical, and passing laws such as H.R. 6, The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which will prevent about 1.1 million DACA and Temporary Protected Status holders, most of whom are working, from being forced out of our country, and our economy, is one step towards improving our immigration laws. But our laws need a complete, modernizing overhaul.
Several think tanks have weighed in recently on this. The Migration Policy Institute has framed the terms of its analysis as it begins a deep dive into what direction future reforms should take. MPI notes the high stakes if reforms are not made:
In the absence of a desperately needed overhaul, this critical policy arena will continue to be subject to wild swings from administration to administration that rely on broad uses of executive authority to accomplish goals that should be articulated by Congress.
The Cato Institute has also recently laid out a framework that looks not only at reforms that would stem the crisis at the border but present a path to a broad overhaul.
Both of these analyses help add context to the debate that needs to be had in Congress, once that body finally decides its time to improve our immigration system to match the country’s economic and demographic realities, and are worth a read.