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Different Approaches to Immigration Reform

By: Chantal Jones

Blog Category: Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is one of the most controversial issues between the political parties in the United States. However, I believe both parties can agree that immigration reform is a major issue that needs the cooperation of everyone to be successful. Most people who are serious about fixing the immigration system through legislative reform agree on the basic principles that the United States needs to secure its borders, future immigrants must have legal avenues to enter the country, and that the nation must deal with the status of undocumented individuals who are already here. The methodology of achieving these goals is where the division lies.

There are three different approaches that can be taken when dealing with immigration reform. Dan Stein, president of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), believes the government should eliminate incentives for illegal immigration. According to Mr. Stein, immigrants come to our country and remain here in large numbers because they believe they will benefit and that there is little chance that our laws will be enforced. Stein believes the first step is to eliminate the biggest draw to illegal immigration – employment. E-Verify, an electronic employment verification system, was created for employers to quickly verify the eligibility of employees to work in the United States. But, this system is voluntary and employers must opt to use it.

Another possible solution is expanding legal immigration. Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center, believes that the government should give legal status with condition to illegal immigrants. Giovagnoli argues that increasing our current legal immigration limits and expanding opportunities for those living and working in the United States lawfully would dramatically reduce future illegal immigration.

The third approach offered by Richard Lamm, co-director of University of Denver’s Institute for Public Policy Studies, believes that there must a compromise between the two approaches discussed above. Under Lamm’s approach, illegal immigration would be ended by a bipartisan commission that would certify that the U.S. borders are secure and that an effective employment verification system is in place. Additionally, illegal immigrants who meet predetermined criteria may be granted amnesty (after paying a substantial fine). Lamm also argues that we should be more selective about future immigrants by only admitting immigrants who can contribute skills or productivity to our country.

I think that there is something to be said for all three approaches. Hopefully, all sides can reach a compromise and the result is a more secure and prosperous country.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


Rebecca Talent, Immigration Reform: The Politics of the Possible, The Christian Science Monitor (November 1, 2013, 10:25 AM), available at http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Common-Ground/2013/1106/Immigration-reform-the-politics-of-the-possible.

Dan Stein, Mary Giovagnoli, & Richard Lamm, 3 Views on How US Should Combat Illegal Immigration, The Christian Science Monitor (November 1, 2013, 10:33 AM), available at http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/One-Minute-Debate-3-Views/2012/0924/3-views-on-how-US-should-combat-illegal-immigration/Tighten-up-Eliminate-incentives-for-illegal-immigration.-Improve-detection-and-removal.

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