Expanding and liberalizing America’s lawful immigration system is the easiest way to boost economic growth and is also the key to stopping unlawful immigration. After a century of reforms that enhanced and centralized bureaucracy, federal immigration policy is a labyrinth of restriction and dysfunction. US immigration laws are now, as Rutgers law professor Elizabeth Hull wrote, “second only to the Internal Revenue Code in complexity.”
A year ago, the momentum for immigration reform was in danger of stalling over concerns about how to deal with the 11 plus million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States. No one would have guessed, however, that reform legislation would be derailed by tens of thousands of children from Central America claiming to be victims of human trafficking.
The US Immigration system is in deep need of change. In this article I propose an incremental reform that, as such, should be more easily passed and implemented than a comprehensive one. It also introduces an innovative mechanism to select immigrants that will reveal the economic incentives driving immigrants and hiring firms.
America’s GDP growth rate is hovering around 2 percent annually, not high enough to create a demand for discouraged workers who have dropped out of the labor force. Would additional immigrants hurt or, possibly, help?
The phrase immigration reform means different things to different people, largely because such a reform can span many aspects of American life. Border security, employment law, legal status of the undocumented, visa tracking, sector-specific economic policies, and more are potential components of immigration reform.
The “year of immigration reform” has not unfolded like anyone expected as recently as the publication of our inaugural issue of Peregrine. Policy makers in Washington didn’t pass any news laws to impact policy, but events on the ground took on a life of their own.
The United States issued more than 60 million “entry” visas in 2013 to foreigners who intended to visit the country but not immigrate permanently. Most went to individuals who came temporarily for pleasure (48 million) or business (6 million). Another three million went to individuals and their families to work in the United States, and 1.7 million went to foreign students.