More than 11 million illegal immigrants live in the United States. As a result, immigration reform is a controversial topic that arouses heated emotions. Although the federal government is primarily responsible for passing and enforcing immigration laws, state governments have become increasingly active. Demands for immigration reform have intensified over the past few decades.
The U.S.-Mexican Border Is Difficult to Seal
The United States has already built a border fence, separated into several sections, that covers about 15 percent of the length of the Mexican border. Some have proposed expanding the fence to include the entire length of the border, which would make it about half as long as the Great Wall of China.While most Americans support this plan, critics say that such a move would be expensive and ineffective. Other proposals, contained in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA), include dramatically increasing the size and sophistication of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.
A Guest Worker Program
In addition to sealing the border, the United States must come to terms with the illegal immigrants already in the country. Unless the U.S.-Mexico border is effectively sealed, mass deportations could result in multiple re-entries by resourceful and determined immigrants.Nevertheless, many Americans find unacceptable the idea of allowing millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States. A guest worker program could set many illegal immigrants onto a path toward legalization. Critics say that such a program would increase illegal immigration by rewarding people who have violated immigration laws.
Employment is a Magnet
CIRA, not yet passed by Congress, includes proposals to improve the mandatory employment verification system. Currently, all employees, even U.S. citizens, must provide their employers with proof of their identities and their right to work in the United States.This system is gradually becoming computerized. The proposed legislation would accelerate this process by improving databases, increasing funding, and adding personnel. It would also decrease the system's error rate so that people will not be mistakenly told they are ineligible to work in the United States.
States Are Passing Their Own Laws
Both Arizona and Alabama have passed controversial immigration laws. The Arizona law includes measures that allow police officers to check the immigration status of any person stopped, detained or arrested for any lawful reason. It is being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2012 session. The 2012 Alabama law, considered the strictest and most sweeping in the nation, requires publication of the name of every immigrant who appears in court - even if the immigrant is not convicted.
A Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding immigration reform is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an immigration lawyer.