There has been lots of controversy on the issues concerning a solution to America’s broken immigration system. Democratic and republican parties can’t seem to agree with one another, leaving reform at a stand-still. Democrats are focused on giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship while Republicans are focused on border security. The fact is both of these approaches should work in unison with each other to provide the most efficient route in fixing immigration.
Providing a path to citizenship has been labeled as granting amnesty. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan introduced an amnesty plan similar to the one being proposed as a solution for America’s current immigration problems. The 1986 bill required immigrants to prove they were not guilty of crimes, enforced stricter employment laws, and only applied to those who were here before 1982. Unfortunately, this bill failed. Fraudulent documents circulated throughout the system and nearly 90% of the 1.3 million agricultural applications were approved even though fraud had been detected in nearly one third of the applications (Swarns). Because of this failure, Republicans are reluctant to vote for amnesty today. Today’s immigration reforms however, have a much better chance than they did twenty seven years ago. Technology improvements will allow officials to more closely monitor and filter the legitimate applications. Electronic computer systems such as E-Verify will be put in place to help employers confirm legal status. E-Verify is an online program that compares mandatory I-9 work forms to the records of those that the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security have on the employees (“What is E-Verify?”). The program will provide employers with instant, secure, and accurate eligibility results, giving an advantage in countering fraudulent documents. Tougher penalties will be set for businesses that choose to hire illegal workers anyway. Fines in the new immigration bill are expected to be around $3,200 for the first offense and range all the way to $16,000 for three or more offenses (Matthews).
There is question on whether or not the immigrants will help or hurt the economy. Some say immigrants will take jobs from Americans and damper U.S. tax rolls because they aren’t as skilled or educated. The fact is immigrants actually increase “overall wages and the pool of jobs” and add to the U.S. revenue (Dwoskin). In 2006 there was a suspected “21 million immigrants, about 15 percent of the labor force, [that] h[e]ld jobs in the U.S.” However, the U.S. only had about seven million unemployed. “So the majority of immigrants can't literally have "taken" jobs; they must be doing jobs that wouldn't have existed had the immigrants not been here,” (Lowenstein). Roger Lowenstein also presents a valid and insightful point in stating that immigrants who take these jobs that “wouldn’t have existed”, relative prices could be lowered in a similar way that global trade does.