Should there be a path to legal status for undocumented individuals in the U.S.? The question is polarizing, controversial. Regionally, emotions can run even higher. Mass media and groups of acquaintances reinforce founded and unfounded fears based on speculation. Rogers Garcia Patton believes that every person should decide based on impartial, accurate information. To that end, we enlisted the knowledge of our resident immigration authority, Albert Garcia.
The scarcity of viable options for legal status is the biggest obstacle we face,” said Garcia. You only have four options:”
- Marry a citizen
- Be the parent of a 21 year or older citizen
- Be a crime victim in some specific limited form (U-visas) or
- Receive employment sponsorship. This is not likely.
“That’s it. Otherwise there’s no citizenship for you.”
This puts quite a few groups in a rather awkward position. Most employers would have to hire high school dropouts for a higher wage if there was a sudden lack of low cost labor. State and federal coffers would soon take a significant hit because of a lower tax revenue. Of course the 11 million undocumented people continue to live a life of uncertainty. especially given the drastic increase in deportations processed during the Obama administration.
Current laws have become a tar baby, a morass of bureaucratic inefficiency. The current system isn’t even capable of maintaining the status quo. There has to be a better way.
To draft a better way, the most important question is: Grant citizenship or legal status?
How Do We Get to a Path to Legal Status?
Garcia is open about the challenges facing anyone who suggests a path to citizenship. “That would be a tough sell”, he admits. “A vocal segment of the population will object to giving citizenship to those who entered the country “illegally”. To an extent, that’s understandable that they would think that way. But, there isn’t any reasonable way for this group to get citizenship in most cases.”
“A path to legal status solves some issues while maintaining the uniqueness of citizenship. President Obama’s executive order, DAPA, is now being argued in the courts. That could provide relief and economic benefit with out “rewarding” people who entered without lawful inspection. Without question, there should be much more comprehensive discussion about a final solution. But, DAPA at least seems to be preferable to our current situation.”
Having worked on many immigration cases, Mr. Garcia has seen the uncertainty and log jam in the courts. It is reaching a point where ignoring the problem is unworkable.
“The rhetoric behind immigration ignores the actual statistics out there. Uninformed statements like “They take our jobs and our benefits” is flat out false. We must think about how the immigrant population could help us. This promotes creative ways to reduce the perceived problem. Anti-immigration lobbies almost never produce any evidence that immigrants take jobs from citizens. Nor can they show that immigrants are draining benefits programs. I think the U.S. should extend temporary workers permits across all fields. Give people 2-3 years of work authorization. Not legal status. Just be able to work legally and live here and meet certain requirements to be able to renew that permit. That’s what immigrants want, to better their lives through employment opportunity.”