This report, Still Room for Consensus, reflects ideas and policy recommendations to reform our immigration system that we believe can gain bipartisan support. While the political landscape has changed, fundamental aspects of our broken immigration system must be addressed through federal legislation.
We, the members of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force, believe that the president and Congress must act to address the many failings of the nation’s broken immigration system. Over the course of the last two years, we have grappled with the range of deeply felt interests and concerns that exist among all those who are substantively working to fix America’s broken immigration system.
These recommendations are the product of rigorous study, aggressive debate, painful compromise, and our assessment of political viability. We understand that the White House or Congress may not move forward with a comprehensive approach that simultaneously addresses all the issues identified herein. However, we do believe that all of these issues must and can be addressed in a balanced and proportional way through multiple bills to strengthen the American economy, enhance our national security, and support the rule of law and basic fairness. It is important to note that none of us is entirely comfortable with each and every one of these recommendations, taken on their own.
Our system of legal immigration, both permanent and temporary, is woefully out of step with our economic and labor force needs.
Our system of legal immigration, both permanent and temporary, is woefully out of step with our economic and labor force needs, and is often unworkable for employers and immigrants alike. Those trying to navigate the system to reunite with their families are often kept waiting for many years outside the country. The shortcomings of our current legal system incentivize illegal immigration. Our enforcement processes on the border and in the interior continue to be shortsighted, unaccountable to consistent and objective metrics, and result in overemphasis on the U.S.-Mexico border as the locus of illegal migration. Lastly, and largely because of a broken structure, the country has a large community of individuals living without either the responsibilities or privileges of legal status.
Today, these individuals are not living up to their economic potential and are costing the United States millions of dollars in law enforcement efforts. Because of their undocumented status, these individuals are also open to exploitation by those who capitalize on the shadow economy. As a nation, America can no longer afford to turn away and ignore the status quo: de facto amnesty exists today.
BPC’s Immigration Task Force is a politically diverse group working toward bipartisan consensus on the key immigration reform issues. We believe that real and lasting immigration reform must come from legislation, passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the president. While it is up to Congress to lay out a process for reform, we believe the legislation must include provisions that secure the border, control the flow of unauthorized immigration, provide adequate legal avenues for future workers, maintain a tradition of family-based immigration, and afford a means for those currently undocumented immigrants to get right with the law and earn a legal status. Our group believes the following set of principles represent commonsense, middle-ground positions that a majority of Americans can support and will help to move the immigration debate forward at this critical juncture.