Immigration Reform 2013: America Ranks Poorly When It Comes to Immigration Policy

According to a May 2011 study by the Immigration Policy Center, the United States ranks ninth when comparing overall immigration policy to those of 30 other countries.

In the report, titled "The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX III)," the highest ranking for the U.S. is first in anti-discrimination policies (to a low of 24th for long-term residency). With Congress and the president poised to address our immigration policies, we should not attempt to become number one. Rather, we must address the various issues involved as they apply to this country and implement solutions that will sever the best interests of the United States.

Six senators; John McCain (R-Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Col.), and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) have introduced a bipartisan plan for comprehensive immigration reform. Their plan includes creating a path to citizenship while securing the border and enforcing visa time limits. The plan makes it easier for those individuals that can help build our economy to stay, improves employment verification enforcing stiff penalties against employers that knowingly hire those in the country illegally, and makes it easier for new workers to enter. Their proposal positively addresses the issues of uniting families, agricultural workers, and DREAMers.

President Obama will present his plan on January 29. It will most certainly address the same issues. There are sure to be some differences. The bipartisan Senate plan would require those currently undocumented to wait until all pending green card applications are processed before they can apply whereas the president's proposal is rumored to include an eight-year wait. These differences will have to be worked out. 

According to MIPEXIII, eight other countries are doing a better job overall in immigration compared to the U.S. Twenty-three make it easier for immigrants to become long-term residents. What other countries do should not influence what changes we make to our immigration laws. The Senate has taken a bipartisan lead. The president needs to recognize this when announcing his plan. Our immigration system needs to be improved. The issue has been festering for at least 12 years. 2013 could be the year it gets done. The political climate in Washington may be changing. Climate change, in this sense is a good thing.