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The Blue & Gray Press | June 18, 2018

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Bipartisan 'Gang of Eight' pushes for immigration reform

immigration-gang-of-eight-sBy LUKE MENDELSOHN

On Jan. 28, a group of eight senators, composed of four Democrats and four Republicans, put forward a proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration has been an important component of economic growth in America. This proposal is a first step toward a future where those who wish to become contributing members of our society are legally allowed to do so.

The proposal contains four main points that target at updating a clearly broken and out-of-date system.

The first priority of the bipartisan push for immigration reform is to “create a tough but fair path to citizenship.”

This part of the plan is preceded by the need to secure our borders so that no more immigrants are able to enter the country illegally.

The second item that the proposal addresses is the need to reform the immigration system that our country is using. Currently, foreigners studying at American universities and obtaining degrees are not allowed to stay in the country. The proposed legislation sets out to change that and make permanent residency possible for those who complete PhD or Master’s degrees in math, science, technology or engineering.

The third point in the proposal is a strengthening of employment verification systems to ensure that immigrants cannot acquire a job unless they come to the country legally.

The fourth and final point that the proposal puts forward allows companies to legally hire immigrant workers on a visa basis if there are no Americans to fill the job. Also included in the fourth point is a path to citizenship for workers coming in through this system.

It is important to note, for those that may sideline this reform by calling it an amnesty measure, that it would be physically impossible to deport the more than 11 million unauthorized immigrants who currently live in America, according to census data. For this reason alone, a “tough but fair path to citizenship” is, without question, a good idea.

Economically speaking, it makes perfect sense to allow those who already live here to pay back taxes and become contributing members of society. Why should we deport immigrants who could be vital in broadening the tax base?

Even though this push for reform is bipartisan in its origination, House Republicans are likely to be hesitant in their support for this legislation.

However, the fact remains that simple, clear and concise immigration reform is essential to helping make this century as prosperous as the last one.

We must remember, as Emma Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colossus,” states on the base of the Statue of Liberty about what immigrants mean to our country, “‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she with silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”

If we, as Americans, wish to remain a leading power in the world, immigration reform that allows the best and brightest to come and stay in America is critical. And with this proposal, positive change is closer than ever.