On the Horizon: Immigration Reform

Now that Congress has passed an appropriations bill and a farm bill, GOP leaders are planning the House agenda for 2014. At the House Republican Conference retreat over the weekend, members of the House attempted to come up with a plan to deal with immigration reform.

Representative Rob Woodall, whose Gwinnett and Forsyth County Seventh District is considered to be the most diverse in the southeast, dealt with the issue in a Washington Watch newsletter sent out last night.

Immigration reform is desperately needed, but unfortunately, the term “immigration reform” has been stolen by those with a political agenda. For some, it means “open borders.” For some, it means “unlimited cheap labor from overseas.” For others, it means “amnesty.” And for others, it means “citizenship for all who desire it.” You know as well as I do that it is difficult to have a conversation even among friends about immigration reform because the very term has taken on a political life of its own.

While “immigration reform” is characterized many ways by many people, at its core, all it means is ensuring that America’s laws reflect America’s interests. That’s why I’ve always been a supporter of cutting the red tape for the brightest and hardest workers who want to make America better and ensuring that no president can unilaterally choose not to enforce the law. Truthfully, I don’t believe the question that most Americans are asking is, “Does America need immigration reform?” The question is, “Can we trust this President to help us get immigration reform right?” Sadly, the answer from most constituents here at home and most Congressmen in Washington is a resounding “no.”

Some conservative activists have railed against any sort of reform, especially if it would lead to illegals gaining citizenship, calling it amnesty. Atlanta’s D.A. King, founder of the Dustin Inman Society, said, “The Republican establishment is clearly saying to voters ‘drop dead.’”

Yet, in a survey conducted last August by the Gwinnett Republican Party, 72% of those responding said the House should bring up the issue.

The response to the Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial featuring America the Beautiful being sung in multiple languages made for a revealing Rorschach test of our views about people from different countries. It will be interesting to see how far the immigration reform effort gets in the House.


  1. saltycracker says:

    Nina Easton wrote a thought provoking article on foreign workers in Fortune´s January 13, 2014 issue. Find it and draw your own opinions.

    Most believe immigration reform not blanket amnesty is needed to address illegal issues and permit more of the best and brightest to immigrate. Legal workers/students are more apt to assimilate in language, communities, laws/taxation and standards,. Amnesty would tilt the scales to an even greater wage gap with entitlements and increased tax pressures on the middle class. Recovery from amnesty debt would take a couple of generations.

    DC has long avoided real reform, perhaps for reasons. Reform might be good for tax revenue but immigrants are not quick to embrace our established political culture and would be slow to contribute to politicians, special interests or lobbyists.

    HB1 worker and student visas quotas are filled quickly today. Many of the entry level workers later slip under the radar while a portion of graduates or skilled return home if the opportunities are there. A proposal is floating to drop these limits completely increasing those that stay. That might effect the wage gap with consequences for the current skilled levels.

    CEO salaries approach 300 times their workers while government and non-profits keep salaries up to be “competitive”. Public workers are among the highest paid when benefits are considered. A significant portion of government obligations/debt, including the state and local level, are hidden in long term after-work pensions and benefits for their employees.

    Our high school kids were ranked among 34 countries and as we out spent all of them we came in 26th in math and 21st in science. The educational levels coming out of our high schools continue to drop by world standards. Too many of our kids then go on to college gaining high debt for skills not in demand. We are not competitive. Even while limiting of HB1 and university caliber immigrants we fail our kids by continuing an employee focused edu-bureaucracy.

    Addressing immigration must be accompanied with a reform in K-12 education or we compound the current problems. If we open up the legal doors of opportunity, what happens ? We get smarter/better workers at lower wages, in the universities, at skilled and professional levels, in executive management and in the non-profits. Absent K-12 reform the unintended (?) consequences is that immigration reform pushes a fair percentage of U.S. workers and high school grads down the ladder. The Feds actions to increase college grads would benefit the better testing foreign students. Will we counter with more taxpayer supports for those that fail or opt out ?

    There are a lot of dynamics to consider. The increasing wage gap, low income single mom households, a flawed immigration and educational system, massive poorly run entitlement programs, an incomprehensible and a selectively enforced tax code and a government that prints money but borrows more. As we move to a global economy, these can’t be protected or sustained forever.

    Reform in these areas will not be easy, it’ll be a rocky road, but doing nothing will be bad for the country.

Comments are closed.