Immigration proposals intensify the debate

Posted Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Now that a group of senators and President Barack Obama have put immigration reform proposals on the table, where will it lead?

Here are some opinions on that:

What's the problem?

An estimated 11 million people live in the United States illegally. Everyone agrees that this is intolerable, and -- deportation being impossible and possibly unfair -- Congress appears on the verge of granting them a path to citizenship. But legal reform is not going to solve the problem of illegal immigration. That's because illegal immigration is not really a problem, or if it is a problem, it is a problem that no one wants to solve. ...

Here's a prediction. A path to citizenship will be offered to the current 11 million, and if it is not too onerous, most of them will take it. But others will not, planting the seeds of a new illegal population. Possibly a guest-worker program will be put into place, but even if so, it will be too small and too entangled with bureaucracy for employers and workers to want to use. ...

Ten or 20 years from now, everyone will recognize a new illegal immigration "problem," which we will again "solve" by removing the "illegal" label from the foreheads of the migrants and affixing the "legal" label in its place.

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-- Eric Posner in Slate

In the national interest

Republican support for immigration reform won't guarantee more Hispanic votes, but outright resistance would harden attitudes among such voters for years.

But Republicans shouldn't back reform solely for political reasons. They should support it because it's solidly in the national interest.

While too-rapid immigration can cause real problems, over the long term it is an undeniable benefit. The immigrant contribution in high-tech has been spectacular: Google, eBay and Intel were founded by immigrants or their children. Immigrants started more than half of Silicon Valley tech firms, according to a 2009 Kauffman Foundation study.

Meanwhile, the landscape has shifted dramatically since the unsuccessful reform effort of 2007. Last spring, a Pew report concluded that migration from Mexico had hit net zero and "may have reversed."

"We have turned the page in terms of migration," Roberto Suro of the University of Southern California told The Wall Street Journal. "We haven't turned the page yet in terms of the policies."

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-- E. Thomas McClanahan,

Kansas City Star

More visas, STEM prep

Immigration has never been an easy issue for the United States despite its touting itself as a nation of immigrants.

There are so many facets to any discussion on immigration, so many different impacts on different places and different individuals and businesses and groups that whatever is said or done will get under someone's skin. Universal agreement may not be possible, but sensible balance is. ...

Raising the ceiling on the number of H-1B visas is something Microsoft in particular has championed. ... In its proposal last year, Microsoft offered a sweetener, a fee of $10,000 that employers would pay for each immigrant hired with the money to be used for STEM education. For some bizarre reason, the Senate bill would drop that fee to $1,000. That doesn't make sense.

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-- Jerry Large,

The Seattle Times

Embracing citizenship

Given the views of many on the right, it's hard for House Republicans to embrace citizenship, which some of them have derided as "extreme." Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have declined to endorse it.

But isn't embracing second-class legal status about the worst possible political option? ...

When offered a range of policy options, a comfortable majority -- including a majority of independents -- supports citizenship. It's the mainstream position. It's understandable that Republicans need to move cautiously on immigration, but it's hard to see how they will meaningfully moderate their party's image on this issue -- or begin to repair relations with Latinos -- if they can't find a way to embrace genuine reform.

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-- Greg Sargent,

The Washington Post

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