Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Friday, March 26, 2010

Four Pillars for Immigration Reform

Having just finished with one hot potato, at least two Senators are ready to tackle yet another. And surprisingly enough, it is a bi-partisan effort. In a Washington Post opinion piece, Charles E. Schumer and Lindsey O. Graham - The right way to mend immigration offer four premises on which any new legislation should be based:
Our plan has four pillars:
    • requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs;
    • fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement;
    • creating a process for admitting temporary workers;
    • and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.
Obviously, the biometric card will set off concerns in some circles. Trying to get ahead of the curve on that one, the Senators were quick to point out:
Each card's unique biometric identifier would be stored only on the card; no government database would house everyone's information. The cards would not contain any private information, medical information or tracking devices.
Given how stormy the last time immigration reform was raised and given the hard feelings generated by the healthcare battle, it would not seem like an auspicious time.

Still stranger things have happened and if the bipartisan spirit continues, with even a low level of Republican support in the Senate, there should have a fighting chance for reform.

However, it should be remembered that this is an issue which does not necessarily divide only along partisan lines, but also has a geographic element.  Even more importantly, there is a long way between agreement on concepts and agreement on final language of a bill. And just like biometric cards, the pathway to citizenship is a concept that will be a non-starter for many.

I don't think President Obama needs to set aside any days in the near future for a signing ceremony, but it certainly is an interesting start.

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