Op-ed: Immigration Reform Should Address Why People Leave

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants 2 participate in march for Immigrants and Mexicans protesting against Illegal Immigration reform by U.S. Congress, Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 2006by Andrew Wainer, Huffington Post, 7/18/2013

In June, the Senate approved the most far-reaching reforms to U.S. immigration policy in 50 years. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act passed on a vote of 68-32. It now faces a more daunting challenge in the House of Representatives. The 1,000+ page bill includes an earned legalization process for 11 million unauthorized immigrants, increased enforcement both at the border and at home, and a revamped guest worker program for both high- and low-skilled jobs.

But even as policymakers attempt to fix what everyone agrees is a broken immigration system, the proposed legislative solutions overlook one of the system’s most important moving parts — the economic hardship in immigrants’ home countries that drives them to seek work in the United States. Thus, the U.S. development community can play a new and important role in helping to integrate economic development and poverty reduction into U.S. immigration policy.

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