U.S. Law Center

Immigration reform bill has competing interests

Amidst the news of a leaked version of the White House's version of a proposed immigration reform bill, many people have not considered the implications that an overhaul would have on families. As we have posted before, the overall impetus of immigration reform is to keep families together while applicants work towards citizenship. This would be especially important for young children of undocumented immigrants, who reportedly have to sacrifice relationships with their parents as they leave the country in order to properly obtain visas.

While the family aspect is a noble goal, industry leaders believe that more emphasis should be on employment-based visas. As such, the ongoing debate over immigration reform is certain to change. According to an ABC News.com report, senators in the "Gang of Eight" who recently announced the bill, have noted the need to increase employment based immigration to increase American competitiveness internationally. This has been an especially important need in the high-tech industry and the medical field. As such, talks regarding increasing the emphasis on educational backgrounds and employment of potential immigrants may sway the bill.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, two-thirds of immigration to the U.S. is family-based, with 15 percent being employment-based. This disparity is based, in part, on the ability for U.S. citizens to bring immediate family members (including spouses, minor children and parents) into the country with no limit on the number that may enter each year.

It remains to be seen whether that number will be curtailed or shifted to accommodate the increasing need for employment visas. Ultimately, lawmakers will have to strike a balance between competing needs.

Source ABC News.com, Families look for relief from immigration bill, February 19, 2013

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