Start Making Sense: Support Common Sense Immigration Reform

Comprehensive immigration reform is on hold in Washington while lawmakers are home for the August recess. Take advantage of this opportunity to encourage Congress to act on immigration reform.

Immigration reform remains an economic imperative for cities, with several recent studies demonstrating the benefits to both the national economy and to local economies. Common sense immigration reform will create new jobs, increase wages, and generate new tax revenues.

NLC supports comprehensive and common sense immigration reform that includes:

  • Supporting earned citizenship;
  • Eliminating illegal border entry;
  • Increasing enforcement of visa overstays;
  • Strengthening the worksite enforcement capacity;
  • Providing local governments with financial and technical assistance to alleviate the local impact of new immigrants without adding new local mandates.

In June, the Senate adopted a bipartisan immigration bill by a vote of 68 – 32. The bill includes requirements for an earned path to citizenship, border security measures, workplace enforcement and temporary worker categories for low-skilled and agricultural workers, and for unauthorized individuals to go through a series of steps lasting at least 13 years before applying for citizenship.

The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that if passed, this bill would reduce the federal deficit by $175 billion between 2014 and 2024, and would contribute 3.3 percent to economic growth by 2023 and 5.4 percent by 2034.

Progress on immigration reform has been much slower in the House. So far, two different House panels have worked on a total of six different bills. A bipartisan group has been working for several years on a comprehensive bill but has been unable to reach an agreement and even lost a member earlier in the year.

The House bills include the Agricultural Guestworker Act, the SKILLS Visa Act, the Legal Workforce Act, and the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act or SAFE Act. NLC has strong concerns about the SAFE Act and Legal Workforce Act, which mandates state and local government use the government sponsored E-Verify system on existing employees. The SAFE Act would make unlawful presence in the U.S. a criminal rather than civil violation, compelling all state and local governments to enforce immigration law. House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R - VA) provided a guide to the House immigration strategy in an online resource guide for his colleagues.

For cities, enacting immigration reform will allow undocumented immigrants to participate fully in local economies, allow local law enforcement to concentrate on local public safety needs, and provide cities the opportunity to better integrate immigrants into the community.

Urge your elected representatives to help local economies by enacting common sense immigration reform. Contact Leslie Wollack at Wollack@nlc.org for more information.