2006 Immigration Trend 3/4

Posted on September 26, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Is Immigration Reform Dead?

In the last article, we analyzed the present situation of the immigration reform. Though it seems that there is little chance to pass the immigration reform bill this year, all factors and the interests group’s push for the immigration reform still exist and the need for the immigration reform is getting stronger with the time going on.  As a result, the passage of the immigration reform bill is inevitable in the future even though no one knows when.

First, the finance deficit which has plagued the U.S. government has existed for a long time and it is getting worse. The U.S. budget and trade deficit, and unfunded government liability is so high that it seems impossible to be resolved by the growth of the U.S. economy in the current pool of labors.  At the same time, the ever growing problem of unfunded Social Security Liability requires a huge inflow of new immigrants.

Secondly, aging population in the U.S. asks for the inflow of new immigrates. With the baby boomers getting ready to retire in few years, it is predicted that the U.S. population structure will change significantly in 30 years, and that the U.S. financial situation will become more serious. The inflow of younger immigrants, especially the employment-based immigrants is needed to support the ever growing population of older people.

Thirdly, the current shortage of labor in agriculture, construction and other industries are so severe that more and more U.S. businesses are asking for the immigration reform.  According to some reports, the current U.S. immigration system is so broken that more than 60% of the agriculture workers, 30% of the construction industry workers in the U.S. are illegal immigrants.  As a result, the U.S employers are put in a dilemma.  On one hand, they cannot find suitable U.S. workers to work for them.  On the other hand, it is the violation of law for them to hire illegal immigrants.  Tired of the current broker system, more and more U.S. businesses, both big and small, are increasingly put pressure on both parties, especially the Republicans for the immigration reform. For example, earlier this year, after the Republican controlled House passed the restrictive immigration bill, the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce immediately expressed its opposition to it, saying it is not going to help the U.S. economy.

Finally, because of the change of the U.S population structure and its likely effects on the political landscape, the Republicans may be forced to change their position on immigration with its party’s long-term interest in mind.  In the past, most of the hard core supporters of the Republicans have been the conservatives from the South and the Southwest. They held the position of anti-immigrant and supported the restrictive bill passed by the House. Due to strong challenges posted by the Democrats for the coming election and the record low public support for President Bush and the Congress controlled by the Republican, many Republicans felt that they had no choice but to rely on the support from these hard core conservatives. For this purpose, they have to show that they are tough on the national security and the immigration issues.

However, the public perception of the Republican’s anti-immigrant position will have an adverse influence on long-term interest of the Republicans.  In recent decades, the U.S. population structure has changed significantly due the inflow of a large number of new immigrants.  The minority population, especially the Hispanic populations has been growing rapidly.  Its influence on politics is getting so big that the Republicans cannot afford to ignore.  In fact, President Bush came into power largely because he was successful in getting more Hispanic votes.  In order for the Republicans to win the nationwide elections in the future, they could not afford to lose the support of the Hispanic community.  Certainly, their current position on the immigration reform, especially the position by the House, is not going to help them to win the hearts of millions of Hispanic voters.  Therefore, appearing tough on the immigration issues maybe useful for some Republicans in the coming November election, but in a long term, it would not be good for the Republican Party.  Both President Bush and other national leaders of the Republicans party seem to notice the danger and are getting really worried.  This is part of the reason why President Bush is continuing to push for the immigration reform knowing that it is going to be passed by the Congress this year.  People always say that the U.S. president is the most powerful man in the world, but how many of them can understand the pressure and frustrations President Bush has?

In conclusion, even though it looks very unlikely that any immigration reform bill would be passed this year and its passage may continue to face oppositions, it is evitable that immigration reform will come in the near future.

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