How badly does the US need a comprehensive immigration reform?

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Consider this: the last time the US government made a massive overhaul to reform the immigration system was before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The world has changed drastically and the marketplace of goods, services, and innovations has gone global. Especially with the recent rapid expansion of the IT industry and rampant technological advances, it’s high time the US approved internal changes to keep up.

The popular attitude of the US citizenry has shifted to opening up more avenues for people living illegally in the country to take strides towards naturalization and even citizenship. H-1B visa holder’s spouses will soon be permitted to work in the US under very specific circumstances and the annual H-1B visa cap is expected to rise.

At the same time, the problems the US faces with illegal immigration seem to be getting better regardless of public opinion. In fact, the number of apprehensions of people living illegally in the United States is just a quarter of the 1.6 million people apprehended in 2000. This is an amazing accomplishment and certainly gives fuel to the fires of immigration reform.

As we move forward into immigration reform, it will be increasingly important to read the fine print of the bills we are likely to see. Something that looks good on its face may not be the best option for workable immigration reform and to attract skilled workers into the US. For example, a reform bill that passed through the House of Representatives proposed to increase the number of annual H-1B visas, but also required H-1B employers to post all H-1B job offers to the Department of Labor website so US citizens can also apply and get preference. Penalties for hiring H-1B workers over seemingly equally or greater qualified US citizens are stiff, which would deter employers away from the H-1B program altogether.

The need for immigration reform is undeniable. It is of the utmost importance to move forward in any meaningful way that details be scrutinized in light of the reality of the situation, and that focus stay on the long term goals of an increasingly globalized world.

This article was written by Rebecca Little

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