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Making Legal Immigration Reform a Reality: Areas for Consensus-Based Action

Washington, DC – Though immigration reform has been “on the table” in Congress for two decades, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s latest report identifies several areas of consensus on lesser-skilled and high-skilled employment-based immigration that offer a path forward.  

“As the nation grapples with widespread labor force shortages, and our immigration system suffers from historic and growing backlogs, employment-based immigration reform could not come soon enough,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, BPC managing director of immigration and cross-border policy. “Well-balanced reforms could also provide much-needed updates to our immigration system which no longer works as intended, if at all.” 

Reforming Employment-Based Immigration: Charting a Path Forward provides a framework for reform, outlining 11 consensus issue areas based around system fixes, reforms to labor certifications and the visa regime, and worker protections.  

Over the course of several months in 2021 and 2022, BPC gathered groups of diverse stakeholders representing employers, labor union perspectives, and immigrant rights advocates to discuss reforms to the country’s lesser-skilled and high-skilled legal immigration systems. The conclusions drawn from these meetings could serve as an outline for future discussions on legal immigration reform in Congress. Previous BPC and Morning Consult polling found that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents were most likely to compromise on legal immigration—specifically economic-based reforms, making these recommendations ripe for potential legislation. 

The report also acknowledges potential sticking points, like regulations to the employee recruitment process and balancing workers’ rights and employer concerns. As the report concludes, “Transparency regarding where there is room for compromise and where compromise might be difficult is also critical.” 

Read the report here 

For questions, or to speak with Theresa Cardinal Brown, please contact Communications Associate Hanadi Jordan.