The current immigration system is outdated and broken. Americans are justifiably frustrated and angry. The U.S. needs a fair, practical solution that addresses the underlying causes of undocumented immigration and creates a new, national legal immigration system for the 21st century.
As policymakers debate the scope and form of the health care reform package now taking shape in Congress, it is important to understand the role of immigrant participation in the current health care system. Misconceptions about immigrants and their participation in our health care system abound, the facts demonstrate that immigrants can and should contribute to any new program. It is both good policy and common sense to treat access to health insurance for all as an investment in the nation’s public health. Categorical exclusions of any kind—whether of immigrants, redheads, or cat owners—are a mistake. It makes more sense to allow everyone to buy affordable health care.
There is a great deal of confusion about Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs), a tool used by the IRS to ensure that people pay taxes even if they don't have a Social Security number. Despite the fact that ITINs have no bearing on legal status, some people point to the ITIN program as some type of benefit that gives quasi-legal status to people in the U.S. illegally. This fact sheet explains what ITINs are, who has them, and the purposes for which they are used.
America’s immigration laws are some of the most complex and archaic provisions that can be found in the U.S. statutes. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) rivals the tax code in the level of detail, confusion, and absurd consequences produced by years of layering on provisions without systematically reviewing their results. Since the 1960s, Congress has periodically overhauled the INA, but has tended to focus on one hot-button issue at a time, resulting in a patchwork of outdated laws that fail to reflect the realities of 21st century America. The necessity of comprehensive immigration reform stems from years of neglect and failure to respond to incompatible interactions between different parts of the system, resulting in breakdowns that have crippled our ability to regulate immigration adequately, protect our borders, reunite families, and foster economic opportunity.
The Department of Homeland Security released a report this week showing that apprehensions of undocumented immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are at their lowest level since 1973, leaving many observers contemplating the factors responsible for this decline. Is it the recession-plagued U.S. economy or beefed-up enforcement efforts? New data from a research team led by Wayne Cornelius, Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, sheds light on the decline in apprehensions and reveals the surprising, unintended consequences of border enforcement.
According to the anti-immigration group NumbersUSA, immigration to the United States is all about arithmetic: immigration increases the U.S. population, and more people presumably means more pollution, more urban sprawl, more competition for jobs, and higher taxes for Americans who must shoulder the costs of “over-population.” At first glance, this argument is attractive in its simplicity: less immigration, fewer people, a better environment, more jobs, lower taxes. However, as with so many simple arguments about complex topics, it is fundamentally flawed and misses the point. “Over-population” is not the primary cause of the environmental or economic woes facing the United States, so arbitrary restrictions on immigration will not create a cleaner environment or a healthier economy.
AgJOBS is a bipartisan, compromise bill that is the result of years of negotiations among farmworkers, growers, and Members of Congress. The Immigration Policy Center has produced a Fact Check on Farmworkers.
Now more than ever, Americans are seeking real solutions to our nation’s problems, and there is no better place to start than protecting our workers, raising wages, and getting our economy moving again. Part of this massive effort must include workable answers to our critically important immigration problems.
The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), as well as the Heritage Foundation, have recently claimed that up to 300,000 construction jobs created by the economic stimulus bill could be filled by undocumented immigrants. CIS arrives at this scary number by using a job-creation formula designed for highway expenditures in 2007, and then tacking on an estimate of the undocumented construction workforce from 2005—before the mass layoffs that have plagued the construction industry. Beyond the use of fuzzy math, CIS also suggests that the federal government’s “E-Verify” employment-verification pilot program could prevent undocumented immigrants from securing these new jobs. Yet numerous reports—from the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General, and a Department of Homeland Security contractor, among others—indicate that rushing to implement E-Verify on a national scale would be a costly mistake that would ensnare U.S. citizens in database errors and wouldn’t actually stop undocumented immigrants from getting jobs. “Enforcement-only” attempts to stop undocumented immigration have failed repeatedly for more than 20 years. Only a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that allows exploited undocumented immigrants to become legal workers will fix our broken immigration system in a way that benefits all workers.