National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

Starting the process of Immigration reform

April 24, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas


The Washington Post featured an opinion piece by Georgetown Law dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff, where he explains why beginning the discussion around immigration reform, even during an economic recession, makes sense. 


He points out that the economic downturn has caused less undocumented migration as fewer jobs means fewer people coming in search of work, and that this provides the opportunity to control the situation when there’s less pressure on the border. He then goes on to examine why legalization of the undocumented population is the responsible thing to do:


The most difficult part of a discussion on immigration reform is what to do about the 10 million to 12 million undocumented workers and their families living in the United States. The economic crisis is sure to fuel that same opposition: Why, it will be asked, should we give undocumented workers a legal status that permits them to compete for jobs with unemployed Americans?


Some of the short-term answers will be persuasive. A legalization program, by taking workers out of the shadows, will free up the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals who have already shown motivation and hard work in coming to the United States. Furthermore, a legal workforce will be better able to advocate for "legal workplaces," where employers comply with wage, safety and other labor laws.


A better answer focuses on the longer term. Comprehensive immigration reform should seek to accomplish two major goals: providing some form of legal status to undocumented workers who meet certain conditions (knowledge of English, payment of taxes, absence of a criminal record) and ensuring that we don't immediately see the build-up of a new undocumented population -- due to continued lax enforcement and the perceived likelihood of a future legalization program.

        Timing Immigration Reform, April 23, 2009


This is the voice of an academic writer and expert in the law who served as an advisor to President Obama’s transition team. He understands that our dysfunctional immigration system is a complex problem that requires thoughtful and pragmatic solutions. Comprehensive immigration reform will not happen overnight but nevertheless the process needs to start somewhere.


The longer our country delays reform, the longer we deny ourselves a legal immigration system that actually works and that responds to the economic and labor needs of our country; we delay sensible enforcement at the border that focuses resources on fighting crime, we delay access to equal labor right which in turn will empower all workers, we delay access to the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants and the increased tax revenue of their work. More importantly, we delay the opportunity to show the world that we can remain true to our country’s values and traditions by choosing common sense solutions to our toughest challenges.



Crossroads Campaign Solutions