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What makes us a great nation sometimes makes us forget that we are not the only ones out there that have the right answer to a problem.
On Monday, a bipartisan group of senators in Washington proposed a “blueprint” for a comprehensive immigration reform.
Great. Finally, playmakers on both side of the aisle are sitting together to work out something that has been needed for decades. Let's see how long this relationship lasts.
Sarcasm on the side, it is hard to believe that after years of impasse, they finally reached an agreement, even in principle. Finally, something will be done! The surprise, however, lasts until you start hearing the details of the proposed blueprint.
It turns out that an immigration reform will offer a path to citizenship for certain individuals who entered the country illegally but have otherwise stayed out of trouble while they were here, which apparently is not an amnesty, but they would qualify for this “legalization” which will not get them a citizenship, which could come only after they line up at the end of the line to let legal immigrants, playing by the rules, get processed, but that will only be possible if and when some commission decides that our Southwestern border is secured (define “secured”) and only then there might be a chance that some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in this country would be reviewed to start a probationary period for a potential permanent residency and eventual citizenship. Or something like that. Details, details.
In reality, I thought it was the most balanced, fair and forward-looking solution of the immigration problem that comes out of Washington to date. It also, for the first time, acknowledges, and actually puts an emphasis on, legal immigration and people who play by the rules. I applaud the senators for that.
But, like many other similarly great ideas coming out of the capital these days, it is trying to be so comprehensive, thus becoming so complicated, that it is likely to be twisted so much on its way to the president's desk that it will probably do more harm than good. Or get nowhere fast.
The reason for my skepticism is that the main reason for the agreement is political. Senator Schumer said it himself during the press announcement of the group's work: “The politics on these issues has been turned upside down. For the first time ever, there's more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it.” And the politics of it are that Republicans are waking up to the fact that their stands on immigration is devastating to their position among the rapidly growing Latino population in this country, while Democrats are trying to make good on their promises in the hope that they solidify their gains with this population segment. A compromise, which would otherwise be good, if it wasn't so complicated. Like many things in Washington these days.
I am not sure that political risk was the driving factor behind the greatest decisions of our country's leaders of the past that made the United States the great country that we love today. But it was the main reason behind many wrong decisions.
Our social system is not perfect, but, as I've repeatedly said, I think it's one of the best out there. What we need sometimes, though, is to admit that occasionally we come up short in our solutions and that others have figured it out many years ago. Why do we need to invent wheels with squares or triangles when the circle has already been discovered and works just fine.
First, let's back up for a second and review the reason for a good immigration policy.
The hard cold truth is that immigration has nothing to do with individual people and their families. Immigration is akin to a recruitment system by a good employer – it is there to attract and hopefully retain good workers that can improve the company and give it a competitive advantage on the market. There are many people who are starving and need a job, but employer would not hire someone who does not possess a skill set that would benefit the company.
In that regards, a country is unlikely, except in extreme humanitarian cases (refugees, political persecution, etc.) to accept en masse, a set of people that do not contribute to that country's growth. Sure, there's also such a thing as family unification, but that's only when one of the members of a family was accepted to immigrate because the economy needed their skills.
In light of this recruitment standard, legalizing illegal workers that are already contributing to the country's economy (currently illegal day laborers, for example) makes sense.
The problem is that the fixing of their status does nothing to correct the issue going forward. We would still be relying on a complicated set of conditions that one would have to satisfy in order to come to the country legally.
Immigration reform without fundamentally changing the way our immigration system works will just get us back to the same problem in a decade or less.
Sure, the proposal calls for more worker visas and green cards in the technology and science sectors, but what happens when the economic winds shift and a need for other workers increases. We will have to hope that future Congress acts swiftly?
We don't have to look for a solution very far from home.
A country like the United States and a few others (Canada and Australia quickly come to mind) with a relatively healthy and established economic system, relies on immigration to quickly adapt to a changing demand for skills at the workplace and to attract the top minds to work for its benefit.
Take Canada, for instance. Their immigration system relies on point-based test to establish if someone has the skill set that the Canadian economy needs. How many points are awarded for a skill can quickly be changed by their authorities, still not on a dime, but surely much faster than Congress would hammer out another immigration reform. This quickly makes people with “desirable” skills and professions eligible to call Canada their home and they can immigrate to the country, after background checks of course, often within 2 years or less. Currently, for a person to come to the United States and work legally, they need to skillfully navigate the amazing maze of our immigration system most often with the help of a lawyer, and even then, pray that someone at some desk somewhere will be kind enough to think that they might make a good addition to our society.
I admire the desire of this group of senators to work together and come up to a solution. I don't question the goodness of their agenda and their resolve to help reunite families and help people in need. They are all great senators and that's why they are at least trying to work together. But it is clear that, when working in a group, the partisan atmosphere in Washington once again is set to prevail.
It's not all about the economy anymore! It's about the next election.
But that's a whole other topic.
Naiden Stoyanov is the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Canaiden Media Network