A bipartisan group of 8 Senators released a proposal on January 28, 2013 that addresses comprehensive immigration reform. The proposal includes a set of principles that would drastically overhaul our immigration system. The four pillars of the proposal principles include:
1. Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
2. Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
3. Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
4. Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
With respect to changes to our immigration system regarding attarcting the best and brightest workers, the transcript of the proposal reads:
"- The development of a rational legal immigration system is essential to ensuring America's future economic prosperity. Our failure to act is perpetuating a broken system which sadly discourages the world's best and brightest citizens from coming to the United States and remaining in our country to contribute to our economy. This failure makes a legal path to entry in the United States insurmountably difficult for well-meaning immigrants. This unarguably discourages innovation and economic growth. It has also created substantial visa backlogs which force families to live apart, which incentivizes illegal immigration.
- Our new immigration system must be more focused on recognizing the important characteristics which will help build the American economy and strengthen American families. Additionally, we must reduce backlogs in the family and employment visa categories so that future immigrants view our future legal immigration system as the exclusive means for entry into the United States.
- The United States must do a better job of attracting and keeping the world's best and brightest. As such, our immigration proposal will award a green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university. It makes no sense to educate the world's future innovators and entrepreneurs only to ultimately force them to leave our country at the moment they are most able to contribute to our economy."
With respect to a new employment verification system, the transcript of the proposal reads:
"- We recognize that undocumented immigrants come to the United States almost exclusively for jobs. As such, dramatically reducing future illegal immigration can only be achieved by developing a tough, fair, effective and mandatory employment verification system. An employment verification system must hold employers accountable for knowingly hiring undocumented workers and make it more difficult for unauthorized immigrants to falsify documents to obtain employment. Employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers must face stiff fines and criminal penalties for egregious offenses.
- We believe the federal government must provide U.S. employers with a fast and reliable method to confirm whether new hires are legally authorized to work in the United States. This is essential to ensure the effective enforcement of immigration laws.
- Our proposal will create an effective employment verification system which prevents identity theft and ends the hiring of future unauthorized workers. We believe requiring prospective workers to demonstrate both legal status and identity, through non-forgeable electronic means prior to obtaining employment, is essential to an employee verification system; and,
- The employee verification system in our proposal will be crafted with procedural safeguards to protect American workers, prevent identity theft, and provide due process protections."
This proposal reinforces what I believe immigration reform will look like going forward. I believe immigration reform in 2013 will truly be comprehensive immigration reform. Rather than addressing various issues on a piecemeal basis, I believe immigration reform will involve expansive legislation. I believe employment verification will be a key component of any immigration reform proposal and that E-Verify or a similar program will become a national requirement for all employers. Other key points will certainly include legalizing undocumented foreign nationals, eliminating green card priority date backlogs and encouraging STEM graduates to remain in the U.S.