Sen. Flake believes that four major elements are needed to ensure that our immigration system is workable and robust: strong border security, a legal immigration system that encourages economic growth, a temporary worker program to provide for future labor needs, and strengthened employment verification standards to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants.
Past efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform have failed due to public mistrust of the government’s ability to manage such a program. The changing nature of immigration across the southern border has also stymied such efforts.
In years past, groups of illegal aliens crossing the border linked to human smuggling or drug cartels were the exception to the rule. Today, they are the rule. This situation calls for a strong focus on border security.
Our legal immigration system must also be reformed to encourage economic growth and to give future immigrants an incentive to go through the legal process. America can remain competitive in the global economy by offering more visas to foreign-born graduates of American universities who have obtained advanced degrees in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. If we want to grow our economy, we should make it easier for the best and brightest to start the next Google, Apple or Intel in the U.S., rather than overseas
One major failure of the 1986 immigration reform legislation was the lack of a mechanism to deal with the demand for future workers. A robust temporary worker program is needed to ensure that employers have access to labor to grow their businesses and the economy. But before they can hire temporary workers, employers must demonstrate that foreign workers would be filling jobs that Americans are unable or unwilling to fill.
With access to a qualified labor pool, businesses have no excuse for circumventing immigration laws. A workable verification system that allows employers to check a new hire’s legal status, whether it be E-Verify or a new system, is needed so that employers can comply.
The Senate immigration reform bill (S. 744): Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013
Sen. Flake, along with seven of his Senate colleagues, introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act in April, 2013. More information on S. 744 can be found here and here.
While the bill reflects cooperation across the aisle, with neither side getting everything it wanted, it is a vast improvement over the status quo. The legislation was passed out of the Senate in June 2013. It awaits action in the House of Representatives.