It has been nearly three decades since the last time Congress reformed our immigration system. From the Reagan era to the Obama administration, the country has undergone financial, social and political changes yet our immigration policies continue to be the same. Since the implementation of the last immigration reform in 1986, the United States government has spent nearly $187 billion ($220 billion when adjusted to 2013 dollars) in immigration enforcement agencies and programs alone (Meissner, Kerwin, Muzaffar & Bergeron, 2013). The high costs and the increasing public concern has led Americans to recognize the brokenness of our current immigration system and how it has not kept up with changing times. Research has shown 71% of Americans say undocumented immigrants should have a pathway to remain in the country legally (Pew Research Center, 2013). Although Congress and the White House have had numerous failed attempts to pass immigration reform in the past, H.R. 15 proposes an updated bipartisan system that can further secure the borders and solve problems surrounding immigration (Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, 2013.
A new immigration reform will stimulate economic growth, nurture innovation, secure borders, strengthen families, and build flexibility in immigration law. This policy brief discusses how the passage of H.R. 15 will benefit the United States of America while also examining the need to reform our current immigration system. H.R 15 was purposefully written by the National Democratic Caucus to accommodate the views from the Democratic and Republican Party; thus, allowing room for compromise.
Figure 1: Survey by Pew Research Center 03/13/2013
Immigration in the United States
From the moment of its inception, the United States has always been a nation of immigrants. Throughout American history, the numerous immigration waves have undeniably defined the infrastructure of America. By bringing a different set of views and innovative ideas, immigrants injected the economy and advanced technology through innovative work. However, the United States has not kept up its immigration policies with the changing times for the past three decades. The faces of this broken immigration system are the estimated eleven million of undocumented families, including two million children, who are living an American lifestyle as they work, live and study in American soil (Garcia, 2013). Although undocumented individuals have adopted American values as their own, they are forced to remain under the shadows. In hiding, immigrants are not capable of benefitting neither the economy nor the country itself.
Leaders from both Democrat and Republican parties agree the immigration system is broken; however, they have not found enough common ground to pass legislation. In 2013, the National Democratic Caucus presented H.R. 15, or the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and...