Immigration Reform Legislation: Better than Nothing, But Still Flawed

Immigration reform rally / Photo credit: quixoticlife / / CC BY-NC-SA

Immigration reform rally / Photo credit: quixoticlife / / CC BY-NC-SA

The comprehensive immigration reform proposal that the bipartisan group of U.S. Senators dubbed the “Gang of Eight” released on April 17 is an important step forward but probably dooms us to repeat history.  The plan includes mechanisms for documenting the roughly 11 million inhabitants of the U.S. who are now living in the shadows and opening a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since December 2011.  The process to gain citizenship would be long – taking typically 13 years – arduous, and expensive, requiring payment of substantial fees and fines.  The Senate Judiciary Committee began its review of the bill on May 9, covering 30 of 300 proposed amendments.  Prospects for the legislation remain uncertain, as the fragile alliance among these eight senators may not be sufficient to sway skeptics on both the left and right of the political spectrum.  If passed, the measures would take effect after the U.S. government certified that heightened border security measures have been implemented.

Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform from both sides of the aisle have long called for a “once-and-for-all” solution to the country’s broken immigration system.  Nevertheless, the original 867-page proposal – like the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 that regulated the status of just under three million undocumented immigrants – is by no means a permanent fix.  In an important sense it cannot be: it reflects a static conception of immigration, whereas historical analysis of migration patterns shows that they are inevitably dynamic processes, responding to unpredictable fluctuations in labor supply and demand in sending and receiving economies alike.

However imperfect it may be, the Senate bill represents the most promising step yet to address this ongoing challenge.  Proposed amendments introduced thus far have not addressed the dynamic nature of the problem, focusing instead on the digression of border security, as if fences or bloodhounds were capable of controlling cross-border population flows.  Institutional frameworks that acknowledge the dynamic factors that shape human migration and offer avenues for managing the movement of peoples intelligently are on the back burner.  As AU history Professor Alan Kraut has suggested, one way that legislators could achieve this would be through establishment of a commission on foreign and domestic economies and labor markets that would conduct periodic reviews of the conditions associated with optimum migration flows.  Absent the deeper understanding of migration that such reviews would provide, the U.S. legislation – albeit better than nothing – will probably yet again repeat the error of proclaiming an unattainable once-and-for-all resolution of immigration policy.

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  1. Humans have been migrating since the dawn of History(historical condition). Its wise for the author to speak of complex polarity of migrations permanent solutions/and yet ciclical pattersn regarding ECONOMIC and soicopolitical patterns. It is probably wise to acknoledge that these issues will overfloat the capacities of local gov’ts, since it is a GLOBAL phenomenom!!, so human and yet so confictive(race,religions,ethnicity,lingustic,etc.). The core issue is the economic demands of nations and private corporate transnational interests. As the domestic populatiosn of the tecno/industrially advance nations age and recede economic costs,consumer,investments can not be maintain unless the LABOR base expands accordingly. Hence the urgency to treat the issue humanly beyond a purely utilitarian capitalists cyclical neccesities. It would requiere ORDER,security, and a strong dosis of social gurantees for workers nationally and within the context of entry/exit (migrating patterns). The masses of inmigrants can not be left to their devices.luck exposed to perverse violant global mafias!! and many other dangerous journeys.Likewise they can not be discarded,abuse,robed of their patrimony(salary,pensions,savings,etc.). Therefore the global institutions must step up to the challenge and begin a serious discussion of migrations to develop a legal,judicial,political,economic,moral framework. The world should no longer tolerate hundreds of Africans dying trying to cross into Europe,many E.europenas held as slave laborers, and ofcourse thousands of CENTRALamericans murdered/disappear crossing Mexico intheir way to the US. The costs,use, and financial management(predatory,corrupt) of foreign remittances by sending/receiving countries is also a priority.


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