Senate, White House Reach Compromise on Immigration Reform, Community Organizations Announce It Falls Short of Ideals

After months of debate, key members of both parties of the Senate and representatives from the White House have come to an agreed-upon immigration overhaul compromise. At the core of the compromise is a shift from employment- and family-based immigration to merit-based immigration, where immigrants’ education and skill levels would play more of a role than family relationships in the awarding of green cards.

The compromise is not an ideal solution, however, to overall immigration needs and organizations such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have raised a range of concerns. The compromise calls for sweeping changes that include the following:

(1) Eliminating four out of five family-based green card categories;

(2) Replacing the current employment-based system of immigration with a new, merit-based, point system that does not take into consideration the needs of U.S. employers.

(3) Not including any measure to change green card levels to meet the needs of the US economy;

(4) Not including a path to permanent residency for a majority of nonimmigrant workers.

Yesterday, AILA published a public response to the proposed compromise. In it, the trade organization laid out the varied reasons why it does not support the measures. “This [compromise] is nothing short of high-risk, large-scale social experimentation,” said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, President of AILA. “By untethering the system from its moorings to employer and family relationships, we threaten to dissolve the social fabric that binds immigrant communities …. Moreover, by restricting the ability of new ‘guest workers’ to bring their families with them or transition to permanent status, we are creating a dynamic that will generate the next group of illegal residents.”

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