Immigration: Mind Over Matter

01 January 2005

This article examines the current field of debate and legislation on immigration reform and related due process issues. "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" is an expression in the immigration debate and embraces five tenets. First, reform addresses the eleven million people who are living in the United States without documentation and specifically provide them with an incentive to make themselves known to the government, register for some kind of work visa, and if they wish, get on the path to permanent residence. Second, reform embodies what lobbyists in Washington, D.C. call the "future flow," which corresponds to the flow of people who enter the United States based on the labor demands of the United States market and the desire by many to earn a decent living or reunited with a loved one. Third, reform deals with the archaic family and employment immigration quotas in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that have led to unconscionable waiting lines for immigrants who are eligible to apply for legal status based on a family or employer relationship, but who are unable to receive the actual visa because the statutory caps have been met. For example, children and spouses of lawful permanent residents from Mexico must wait for more than seven years before they can be reunited with their family in the United States. Fourth, reform takes on a targeted enforcement plan that operates in tandem with our tradition as a nation of immigrants. Finally, reform imparts a package of safeguards and protections to ensure that immigrants do no displace United States workers who are willing and able to perform a particular job, and that all workers, immigrants and United States born alike, receive equal wages, worker conditions, and bargaining rights.