By Jessica Benjamin & Emerald Cazeau ‘15
Immigration reform has been placed on the backburner of legislative action in America for the past couple of years. However, it was brought back to the spotlight by the president during a speech at the White House on October 24, 2013. In his speech, President Obama pushed for support on immigration reform. “It’s good for our economy. It’s good for our national security. It’s good for our people. And we should do it this year,” he said.
Immigration reform is highly beneficial for the country. One benefit of these reforms would be economic growth. As Mitt Romney stated at a conference in June 2012, “Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity as well. Immigrants with advance degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at a high rate.”
According to an article from the Washington Post entitled “Obama, Romney: Immigration reform needed for growth,” published on June 24, 2012, immigrants founded or co-founded nearly half of our 50 top venture-backed companies. They are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a business than other Americans. That kind of risk taking is something we need more than ever because new business starts are now at a 30-year low.
An americanprogress.org article entitled, “The Top 4 Reality-Defying Arguments Against Immigration Reform,” published on July, 11, 2013, noted that there are beliefs that working immigrants are hurting the wages of working Americans. This claim is not true. Granting illegal immigrants legal status would translate into the creation of 121,000 jobs annually, which would raise total American wages by $470 billion, according to the article. Congress needs to pass a bill that will allow these immigrants to adjust their legal status in order to benefit the economy.
Another benefit of immigration reform is that it grants those who were brought to this country at a young age the opportunity to have citizenship. It’s not the immigrants’ fault that they were brought to America at a young age. As immigrants grow up in America, they are supporting the country, in one way or another. They pay taxes or simply recite the American pledge of allegiance throughout their educational career. These immigrants deserve citizenship for this country that they consider their home.
Many anti-immigration groups argue that reforms would lead to an increase of illegal immigration in the United States, according to Anti-Immigrant Arguments Against Immigration Reform on May 3, 2013. This predicament can easily be avoided. When congress passes reform bills, they need to add regulations that would limit the number of immigrants that would be allowed to adjust their legal status. These regulations should permit those brought to America as minors or those who have completed high school here by a decided date to adjust their status. It should also include punishments that would be implemented for immigrants who reside in America following the date that was decided upon.
Also, America was created by immigrants and has flourished into the country it is today because of them. President Obama wants to stay true to American roots and secure the rights of every individual whether they are citizen or non-citizen. Since immigrants have paved the way by working hard to form the country into what it is today, why not grant them citizenship?