The federal government spent $18 billion last year monitoring and processing undocumented immigrants. That is more than it spent on all other federal law enforcement. That is the finding of a big study.
The problem of illegal entries into the U.S. is now under control. Thousands of people are detained and deported. The number of people crossing the border without papers is down to a “trickle.”
Reformers say the government can now go to work on a bill to reform immigration.
The President wants a “comprehensive” bill that will allow most of the 11 million undocumented residents to become American citizens eventually.
The bill is not “amnesty.” It includes paying fines and back taxes, and a lot of red tape.
Other parts of the bill would:
- Make sure newly hired workers are here legally
- Increase the number of visas
- Keep highly skilled immigrants in the country
- Create a better guest-worker program for low wage workers
Immigration reform is now important. The presidential election showed Hispanics and Asians clearly support Obama.
At this point, interest in “comprehensive” reform is mostly in the Senate. The majority of U.S. Senators are Democrats. They will support the President’s bill.
Senate Republicans and House of Representatives conservative Republicans are thinking about a bill with more obstacles to citizenship. They also say all changes in immigration reform do not have to be in one bill.