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Immigration Reform & Policy

Years of failed attempts to comprehensively address the shortcomings of our long-broken immigration system have paved the way for an uptick in enforcement-heavy policy approaches.

Not only has recent legislation focused largely on security and border issues, but much of the public continues to believe that immigrants are a strain on the economy and a threat to national security. Moreover, bitter partisan divides in Congress make dialog on real fixes to the system extremely difficult, as evidenced by the devastating defeat of the DREAM Act in 2010 and the worrisome trend of independent states—like Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama—taking matters into their own hands with controversial, divisive legislation.

Research has found that reform would be a major stimulus to not only the U.S. economy, but on a regional level, as well.  By raising wages and increasing consumption—which, in turn, would create jobs and generate additional tax revenues—immigration reform could yield as much as $1.5 trillion in gains over the next decade. However it is likely that no substantive legislation introduced will address all the key components of what a true comprehensive immigration reform bill should include.  As comprehensive immigration reform continues to be debated in Washington, opportunity exists today to continue real policy reform to support immigrant family and children across the country.

The current administration has launched some incremental efforts through federal administrative policy changes, including prosecutorial discretion to temporarily suspend removal of “low priority” deportation cases, the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, and granting provisional waivers for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to remain with their families in certain circumstances.  But there is more work to be done. Challenges muddy these recent positive changes:  DACA youth are not eligible to pay into coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act, for example.  And the dismally low numbers of those granted temporary suspension via prosecutorial discretion still illustrate that true reform has yet to be addressed.

Resources related to Immigration Reform & Policy are available below. For additional information, contact Rocio Velazquez Kato.