Legal Immigration Reform: A Better Option Than Title 42
In recent times, immigration and border-related matters have been one of the most disputed and controversial issues in American society, especially in Congress. With no common ground between Republicans and Democrats, the ever bothering issue of immigration seems far from being resolved.
More recently, the Biden-Harris administration made moves to put an end to Title 42. Title 42 is a law forbidding immigrants from entering the United States due to health grounds that could threaten the citizens of the United States. The law was reenacted under the Trump administration as a means of controlling the possible widespread of Covid 19. Although the law was perceived as a ploy by Trump to put an end to border porosity and immigration to the United States, the Biden administration favored it when Biden took over as President.
A few months back when the move to bring down Title 42 was made by the Biden administration, it faced a series of yet unresolved oppositions. The courts blocked it citing that the President has no right to pull down Title 42. The U.S. border towns and their representatives such as in Texas kicked against it since a porous and poorly regulated border meant a threat to them. Also, Republicans and many conservatives among Democrats deemed the decision unwise.
Due to the current situation surrounding immigration, opinions have been left flying here and there. One important opinion that cannot be overlooked however is that it is not just enough to cancel Title 42, whatever the cause or goal might be. Instead of trying to extricate immigrants or asylum seekers from U.S. soil, Congress should focus on tackling the factors that lead to people coming to seek asylum (especially, illegally) as well as recognize the labor needs of the United States. Of course, it is almost no longer news that the U.S. workforce is poor and labor matters need to be addressed. Especially, since the insufficiency of an active workforce contributes to the constantly rising inflationary problem.
An Immigration reform is a must at this point.
One way to ensure this is to consider the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act allows for illegal immigrants who have been effective in the agricultural sector to be legally protected especially since they've been more helpful to the society at large. The bill which was sponsored by Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse of Central Washington and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren has since passed the U.S. House but is still delayed in the Senate. The bill mainly addresses three core factors in the agricultural labor structure.
Firstly, immigrant workers without legal permission to be in the U.S will have access to legal status. This is not to say that they will be granted citizenship, but to have a work permit that enables them to stay and work in the United States, pay taxes, be accounted for, etc.
Secondly, immigrants looking to cross into the United States for work should have easy access to work visas that will enable them to work in the agricultural sector lawfully. Having more of this agriculture work visa will allow for a more orderly and secure movement of immigrants across the border. Again, this is not access to citizenship but a work visa.
Lastly, farmers and ranchers who employ these farmers will be expected to properly screen them for legal status. More financial assistance will also be provided for them, as well as housing.
Due diligence must be done in addressing this bill since immigrant workers form a large part of the agricultural workforce if not the most part. Hence, they are majorly responsible for the effective circulation of agricultural produce.
Bipartisan support for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act only goes to show that gradual and less-disputed steps can be taken toward ensuring that the illegality issues surrounding immigration can be effectively resolved. Seeing that a large percentage of farmworkers are immigrants, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce amongst others has advised that a credible way to ensure a sufficient workforce and tackle rising inflation is to create legal pathways for immigrants to work in the U.S.
This system could work for nonfarm jobs as well as they also suffer from unfilled vacancies. This is not a ploy to get cheap labor for businesses. Several polls conducted have shown that the American population favors legal immigration but elected representatives haven't been consistent in fulfilling the task of reforming immigration policies to favor both the country and immigrants alike.
The legislature has an essential role to play in ensuring that immigration reforms are favorable to the economic well-being of the State as well as immigrants seeking to pass into America.