Now that the lame duck session of Congress has begun, immigration reform has moved to the forefront. The call to make changes on immigration policies is long overdue, but with the current shape of the GOP, the tides seem to be turning. The House will be considering a bill that will expand visa issuances and make it easier for people with green cards to bring their families into the United States. This will likely pass because the time has come for the Republican Party to try and reach out to Latino voters if they hope to have a candidate in the Oval Office come 2016.
The Grand Ole Party has a few key demographics that they are not popular with, and thanks to the elections earlier this month, it is apparent that the Latino vote will be an important one to win over. The legislation, also known as the STEM Jobs Act, would expand visas for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students, and would allow those who have green cards an opportunity to bring their families into the United States while they go through the process of applying and receiving green cards as well.
This plan sounds great, but the downside of this is that the plan will also eliminate the diversity lottery green card program. This program gives 55,000 green cards to applicants who qualify, and are from countries where there are low rates on immigration. This program is one that Democrats are not willing to drop, which is why this bill may receive opposition.
This is a step in the right direction for a few reasons. Immigration reform needs to be discussed, and this is a stepping-stone in the right direction. This bill will allow families to be together during this stressful process, which can take years to complete. This bill is also proof that the GOP may be willing to have more comprehensive talks about what needs to happen with the current immigration situation.
On the other hand, the elimination of the diversity green card program would take away the opportunity for 55,000 people from all over the world to come to the United States. It would target a particular group of immigrants to stay and prosper, while denying another group the chance to escape nations where they are impoverished, persecuted, and have no hope. The students that would qualify would also have to be students in a Master’s or Ph.D. program, which greatly limits the number of people that will benefit from this bill.
This bill may pass in the GOP-controlled House, but it is not going to help gain the Latino vote. This bill hasn’t even started to cover the major issues with immigration reform, and more extensive work will have to happen soon. This isn’t a matter of only Latino voters, it is a major issue that affects the entire nation. Bills like these are only Band-Aids that only cover up the issue, they do not heal them.