Immigration Reform There Is A Broad Based Essay

Length: 9 pages Sources: 8 Subject: Government Type: Essay Paper: #93795452 Related Topics: Immigration, Arizona Immigration Law, Illegal Immigration, Texas Politics
Excerpt from Essay :

Immigration Reform

There is a broad based agreement of a need for immigration reform. In recent months and years, immigration reform has become an important political issue. However, there is some disagreement as to what precisely this reform will look like. On one hand, there is talk about amnesty for illegal immigrants who are currently in the country, an issue that has proved divisive (Grant, 2012). One the other hand, technology companies are lobbying Congress for changes for visa rules, to allow them to retain skilled workers and avoid the offshoring of jobs to foreign countries (Lynch, 2013). While millions of unskilled laborers live in perpetual fear of deportation, the number of applicants for H-1B visas -- for skilled workers -- exceeded the annual cap in just five days (Lynch, 2013). There are clearly a number of problems with the immigration system.

These two distinct issues both fall under the rubric of immigration reform. They highlight both the social and economic nature of the problem, and quite clearly the comprehensive nature of the reform that is needed. No longer are incremental changes to existing programs and laws going to meet the needs of Americans and their government. It is clear that a total overhaul is needed. Compounding matters is that legislators are often unaware of the issue, and if they know some details they lack understanding of the nuance and complexity of the issue (Foster, 2012). Elected officials are often at the mercy of lobbyists with respect to understanding the needs of different stakeholders.

Making matters worse is that the concept of immigration reform has received significant press. There is enough baseline knowledge of the issue among politicians and the American public that it is raised by campaigning politicians. However, with lack of information about the details and nuance, nobody seems to really know what people mean when they talk about immigration reform. This paper will analyze the issue of immigration reform, and the current state of the issue in public policy.

Public Policy

The United States is a nation of immigrants, and the issue of immigration has always been a matter of public policy. There have been quotas on immigration for decades, and many groups who are today accepted parts of American society faced discrimination in immigration policy in the past (Irish, Italians, etc.). While politicians have addressed the issue in the past, modern immigration policy can be traced to the Immigration Acts of 1965 and then of 1990. These acts opened America's doors to newcomers, and are among the most important reforms of recent decades (Citrin et al., 1997).

The issue has returned to prominence today because of the emerging importance of the Hispanic voter. Both parties see immigration reform as an issue for this voter bloc, and therefore have driven immigration reform towards the higher levels of their agendas (Dunaway, Branton & Abrajano, 2010). While technology companies have legitimate concerns about the use of immigration policy to constrain their workforces, their concerns tend to be less important politically. Not only are they small in number but they are located mainly in firmly established Democratic states, so there are no Electoral College votes in play. In contrast, the Hispanic vote has been cited as contributing to losses of states like Colorado, New Mexico, North Carolina and Florida in recent elections, as those states have turned Democratic theoretically with contribution from Hispanic voters. Thus, immigration reform starts to look less like an ill-defined issue to one of crafting policy to appeal to Mexicans and Central Americans.


There are a number of key stakeholders for the issue of immigration reform. All levels of government are affected. Both the issue of undocumented migrants and the issue of H-1B visas affect employment and other macroeconomic issues. This makes the issue one that impacts fiscal policy and the federal government, but even local governments are voted on the basis of economic conditions so all levels of government are stakeholders. Indeed, as the result of inaction at the federal level, some states have enacted their own immigration laws, even though the issue is clearly within the jurisdiction of...


Further, it should be recognized that where there is confusion between federal and state jurisdiction or conflicts between the laws the efforts of both will be impeded.

Another group of stakeholders consists of the immigrants in question and their families. Their futures and economic well-being are at stake with immigration reform. However, their views are not taken into consideration other than via action groups because illegal immigrants and would-be immigrants do not vote. Corporations are stakeholders, however. Tech firms are involved in lobbying because they feel that they are unable to meet their needs without further access to immigrant talent. Other companies benefit from being able to hire illegals at below-market wages.

The affected communities are also stakeholders. The reason that immigration reform is such an important political issue is that legal immigrant communities are concerned for those who are from their country but here illegally. They also see that society's view of illegal immigrants affects society's view of legal ones, such as with the Arizona law allowing police to investigate all individuals suspected of being illegal immigrants for their paperwork. One imagines that this would occur more frequently with Hispanics than, say, with Canadians.


Overall, the issue is one of federal jurisdiction. States can enact and enforce their own laws, and some have already undertaken this process. However, when and if immigration reform comes down from the federal government, those laws will supersede state legislation. It is only federal inaction that has brought about state legislation in the first place.

The current federal strategy represents both the legacy of the 1965 and 1990 laws, but also of a wide range of competing interests. As a result, federal immigration law seems somewhat antiquated and even arbitrary. Certainly, if the last major reforms were in 1990, that is not good enough. Since 1990, we have experienced globalization. A minor trend then -- neither NAFTA nor the Internet existed -- the world has changed significantly. Technology, communications and transportation have improved to the point where the needs of businesses have change significantly, as have the flows of people around the world.

Yet, federal actors have done little to modernize the immigration system. The quotas for H-1B visas are a good example. Clearly, when the quotas were set they were more reflective of actual demand. When the quota for 2013 is filled in five days, that indicates a strong pent-up demand. It also points to a system that is clearly unready for the realities of the 2013 labor market. While individual departments within government -- the executive branch -- can undertake minor policy changes, most politicians recognize that the changes need to be transformative rather than incremental. They need to reflect a coherent strategy that meets the needs of all stakeholders, rather than piecemeal strategy that is, at the end of the day, incoherent.

Compounding the issue is that there are some interesting positions taken by different politicians on the issue. It has been established that many elected officials have fairly low knowledge of the issue, but that does not prevent some from taking a tough stand on immigration. In some parts of the country, being seen as tough on illegal immigrants is a virtue. Other politicians might be painted as soft for not taking equally tough stances. Yet, many are simply being pragmatic, understanding that there are both social and economic issues at work, and one does not benefit from taking an absolutist stance.

Public Opinion

The American public seems to be aware of the issue in general, but is short of the details. There has certainly been a healthy amount of media coverage of immigration reform, but as the coverage itself is unclear as to how best to frame the problems, it mostly informs about the existence of the issue rather than informing about the issue itself. As such, there is conflicting public opinion about the issue. This mirrors the views of politicians. This could be the result of the fact that immigration reform is often framed as a singular issue when it is not. Immigration reform is an omnibus issue -- a series of issues that are all loosely related to one another. There is little real connection between the H-1B visa issue and the undocumented immigrant issue. If the public and the politicians are slightly confused about immigration reform, the framing of multiple issues as a single one is part of the problem.

Thus there is no broad consensus for action among the public. This also creates issue for the politicians. While ideally elected officials would be information-seekers and aim to create policy based on careful analysis of the issues, this is the real world. The politicians are often unsure of how to deal with immigration reform because they are unsure of how the different voting stakeholders will react and which of these stakeholders matters most. In general, Hispanic voters…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited:

Citrin, J., Green, D., Muste, C. & Wong, C. (1997). Public opinion toward immigration reform: The role of economic motivations. The Journal of Politics. Vol. 59 (3) 858-881.

Cunninghma-Parmeter, K. (2011). Forced federalism: States as laboratories of immigration reform. Hastings Law Journal. Vol. 62 (July 2011) 1673-1728.

Dunaway, J., Branton, R. & Abrajano, M. (2010). Agenda setting, public opinion, and the issue of immigration reform. Social Science Quarterly. Vol. 91 (2) 359-378.

Foster, C. (2012). Ethical issues in immigration law, practice and policy. South Texas Law Review. Vol. 533

Cite this Document:

"Immigration Reform There Is A Broad Based" (2013, May 07) Retrieved October 16, 2021, from

"Immigration Reform There Is A Broad Based" 07 May 2013. Web.16 October. 2021. <>

"Immigration Reform There Is A Broad Based", 07 May 2013, Accessed.16 October. 2021,

Related Documents
Immigration Reform
Words: 618 Length: 2 Pages Topic: Government Paper #: 62454571

Immigration Reform The American political system appears to be engaged in a chaotic state of confusion as many contradictory policies and actions are taking place in national society. Immigration reform is one of the main issues coming from the media machines that dictate and pace the political discussions taking place. The purpose of this essay is to describe the relationship between immigration reform and homeland security. The current pace of societal change

Immigration Fallacy the Existential Fallacy Behind Arizona's
Words: 866 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Race Paper #: 29221574

Immigration Fallacy The Existential Fallacy Behind Arizona's Immigration Policy Few issues currently featured in American public debate are clouded by as much emotional bias, invective and distortion as that of immigration reform. Particularly as this concerns America's shared border with Mexico, immigration is a discussion which carries significant political ramification, clear racial overtones and distinctions in ideology where American openness is concerned. As a result, many political figures have been moved to

Immigration and Health Policies in the 20th Century
Words: 2904 Length: 10 Pages Topic: American History Paper #: 54755909

Immigration and Health Policies in the 20th Century Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" (Lazarus 1998) When you think of people struck by unbelievable hardships and misery, it might not be so hard to believe that a part of their soul dies with each passing day. But

Immigration and Assimilation Immigration &
Words: 1086 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Literature - Latin-American Paper #: 71658751

2009, p.90). The composition of the immigrant population could also affect receptivity. For example, length of U.S. residence and cultural and linguistic fluency can make immigrant workers more acceptable, and thus result in higher wages. "In the short run, immigrants earn significantly less than native-born workers…In industrialized countries, there is apparently a tendency for citizens to be less willing to take on certain menial and low-status jobs as economies advance…Thus,

Immigration in America
Words: 3216 Length: 10 Pages Topic: Immigration Paper #: 34642223

Immigration in America: The Benefits and Costs of a Polarizing Problem Introduction As Suarez-Orozco, Rhodes and Milburn (2009) point out, immigrants need “supportive relationships” in order to succeed in the foreign country that they move to (p. 151). However, when that foreign country is determined to address immigration issues—not only illegal immigration but also legal immigration—it can become a difficult problem for both sides of the political aisle. For a nation like

Immigration - Drawing the Line
Words: 7210 Length: 25 Pages Topic: Criminal Justice Paper #: 49580604

There is no question, however, that immigration issues will remain in the forefront of our national policy debates. Deportation Factors and Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude Research indicates that since the late 1980s, Congress had been tightening the substantive provisions of the immigration laws, to make it far less likely that a convicted criminal alien can find a way to be relieved of expulsion. For many years the basic statutory pattern was