Since I last put fingers to keyboard for IAN, we have had the introduction of the much-anticipated bill from "the gang of eight". Named The ''Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act'' of 2013.
This bill, at 844 pages, is not exactly bedtime reading, unless you want a cure for insomnia. It begins with the thorny issue of Border Security. This is a subject that causes much heated discussion in Washington and well beyond the halls of Congress.
The legislation proposed is an attempt to deliver what was promised under President Reagan, namely, to gain control of the borders and put and end to illegal entry to the US. The fact that we have an estimated 11 million undocumented people in the country today is evidence that the 1986 laws failed to deliver.
The current proposal has elements included that were not even part of the conversation in 1986. For one thing, the technology to monitor the border, which is now proposed, was not available back then. Secondly, the technology needed for internal enforcement and included in "E-Verify" is a major tool to ensure that all non-US born workers becoming part of the labor force are doing so legally. Lastly, and equally important is the proposal to expand the various categories of visas available to employers to match more closely the actual needs of the US labor market both, for high and low skilled workers.
I have always argued that one of the best ways to reduce unlawful entry is to create a better system where the legal avenues are sufficient to the task. If our neighbors from Mexico and South America have the opportunity to come here legally, why would they ever want to risk dying in the desert to enter without papers?
One aspect of migration that is sadly lacking from this proposal is any effort to look beyond our borders to the root causes, which force people to leave their homeland. Catholic Relief Services promotes programs that are aimed at alleviating poverty in the sending countries. We are living in an age where the need for global cooperation and development are very urgent. This needs to be reflected in our planning, particularly for the future needs of our country and our planet.
The debate has begun in the U.S. Senate and will soon follow in the House of Representatives. Let us hope and pray that it will bear fruit in the passage of legislation that we can all be proud of.