In the midst of an anti-immigration march on DC today, the House is gearing up to review a new bill handed down by the Senate, and it would appear that United States Senate is, on paper, actually on the cusp of making some real headway on a terribly divisive topic. It’s no secret that the U.S. Senate has been harping on about immigration for the last several months.
Most recently, the Senate passed a bill that proposes to rank immigrants as a way to determine who should get access to U.S. citizenship. The plan uses a variety of qualifiers like job experience, education level, work record and family situation to determine who would be the best asset to the country. The idea being that the U.S. would take 250,000 of the top scorers each year and give them a green card.
If it passes the House, the proposed bill would go into effect in 2018. Today, the San Jose Mercury News is reporting the results of a trial run that was conducted by the Bay Area News Group. These results help cast a more human light on the proceedings while also providing lots of information on how this system might function in the real world.
The points plan has been called possibly, “the most dramatic reshaping and expansion of legal immigration in generations.” As explained, the goal of the system is to find an equitable way to maintain the United States’ open door policy while also insuring that we aren’t letting just anyone and everyone into the country.
The most obvious upshot to this plan is simple: by redirecting the emphases on immigration policy from time spent here and whether or not you have family here to more skill-based considerations, the United States is hoping to grab the best additions to our country out of the legions of potentials. That doesn’t mean that the new plan is skewed towards those that can, say, afford a U.S. education to begin with. It does allow for those people who come to the country legally and work in unskilled jobs by taking into account things like work record, and the system doesn’t totally abandon the importance of having family in the States. It simply de-emphasizes them.
The new points plan also understandably favors those immigrants who have been in the country for the longest period of time. The Mercury News reports: “roughly half the points can only be accumulated through U.S. work experience” a stat which would seem to indicate that the new process favors those people who – despite their skills and expertise – have also demonstrated a willingness to work hard (remember, work record is a factor), assimilate (English-language expertise is also a factor), and genuinely just try to get along in a new country.
While it’s not the most compassionate way to go about things, it’s more level headed and fair-minded than the current system. To be honest, in a system as historically complicated and entrenched as the U.S. immigration process, compassion isn’t needed nearly as much as logic.
All that said, there are certainly a few odd conditions. For example, immigrants from countries that send applicants each year receive a bump in preference (in the article cited at the top, an applicant from Sweden received 5 more points than an applicant from Mexico simply because Mexico has more yearly applicants than Sweden). If the idea for the new points plan is to base citizenship on merit, then why does location factor in? Shouldn’t the U.S. Senate be searching for the best applicants regardless of where they come from?
Here’s another one to chew on. “The Senate bill would also grant an unlimited number of green cards for people who earn advanced U.S. degrees in science, engineering, technology or math.” That’s a pretty vague statement. It could mean that those foreign students who get a degree in one of the above topics would have a free pass to stay. Most likely however, it would just give them a leg up on their competition who, say, majored in Philosophy. I don’t think anyone would argue that the U.S. could use more scientists than philosophers. And, hey, if we can’t convince our own kids to show an interest in disciplines that move the world forward, let’s import the passion to exploit the expertise!
You can’t deny that the U.S. – even after the implementation of this program – still has a pretty liberal viewpoint on welcoming new citizens. Some of our lawmakers might seem a little conservative in that regard, what with talking about walls and such, but the laws on the books are still more in favor of inclusion than exclusion and that’s not something a lot of countries cannot claim.
There’s still a bunch of fighting to be done on this topic as the House weighs in, but it’s mildly comforting to know that the Senate can occasionally work together to put out something we can all fight about.
JULY 15, 2013