Central Michigan University political science professors say upcoming political battles over immigration will most likely divide Americans in the months ahead.
A plan recently drafted by President Barack Obama’s administration calls for a variety of comprehensive revisions to the current immigration system in the United States. Creating a pathway to citizenship for presently undocumented workers is one of the major provisions in Obama’s plan.
Political science professor Dan Underwood said the Obama administration is attempting to appeal for immigration reform without offending potential constituents in states along the U.S./Mexico border.
“The administration will have resistance from the border states, many of which like Texas and California are political heavyweights,” Underwood said. “They are anticipating that this reform will be controversial and are attempting to be wary of upsetting potential state voters”
This path to citizenship would include a provisional legal status that prevents deportation of the 11 to 12 million speculated unauthorized residents in the United States (as well as ineligibility for federal benefits). Under Obama’s plan, illegal immigrants will receive green card status eight years following the bill’s enactment or 30 days after all currently queued legal visas have been distributed.
Additionally, the Obama administration, along with a bipartisan group of eight Congressmen, has demanded this reform occur only after the border has become more secure.
But there are a couple of further predicaments associated with increased immigration.
“One problem is remittance,” Underwood said. “Many of (the undocumented workers) work short-term, and they are sending money back to their homes. This is kind of frustrating state governments.”
With that said, there are a number of socioeconomic benefits associated with increased immigration in addition to the costs of amplified border controls.
Political Science Department Chairman Orlando Perez said some of these costs and benefits are for employers, consumers and workers alike.
Essentially, he said, employers enjoy hiring workers for less and increased margins of profit, consumers prefer to pay the lowest price possible for goods and services, while immigrant workers are enabled to receive a higher quality life than what is achievable at home.
In large part because of these factors, deporting massive numbers of illegal immigrants might not only be difficult without a heavy-handed federally enforced worker identification system, but it may be undesirable, Perez said.
“They’ve made a life here, and you’re not going to be able to get them to go back to Mexico,” he said. “Typically, you’ll see the first generation of an immigrant family fall on hard times but after that, their children will integrate and Americanize. It would be difficult to live in or even imagine this country without immigrants.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the Senate’s leading Republicans on immigration, rejected Obama’s proposal after it leaked, calling it “half-baked.”
“If actually proposed, the president’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress,” Rubio said.