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The government shutdown has thrown America’s political divide into sharp relief. But even in polarized times, both sides can agree—our immigration system is broken and in desperate need of reform. On this small sliver of common ground, Congress must come together on a bipartisan solution to keep our nation secure and our economy strong.
Immigration is a politically fraught issue that has vexed our nation for years, but there is still an opportunity for compromise. Each side has something it wants, and each side has something to give. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to breaking the current stalemate in Washington by advancing sensible immigration reforms.
Reform must ensure, first and foremost, that our country is safe and secure. Porous borders present several challenges to our immigration system, not to mention a threat to our national security. That’s why the first step in achieving a long-term solution is strengthening border security.
At the same time, we must address the plight of Dreamers—the young men and women brought to our country as children through no fault of their own—and long-term beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). They support our economy in numerous ways, and it would be unconscionable to force them out of their homes, their schools, and their jobs. Combining border security enhancements with relief for Dreamers and TPS recipients is a commonsense way to break the partisan divide gripping Washington.
Of course, such a compromise will not address all the problems of our broken immigration system; many other issues have to be addressed. For example, under the current immigration system, employers don’t have the workers they need at every skill level and in key industries such as health care, agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation. We need a workable visa program that allows companies to hire workers at all skill levels when and where they need them, while maintaining our nation’s ability to attract the best and brightest talent from around the world. Such a plan can be combined with an employment verification system to prevent future unauthorized employment.
Finally, we need to establish a tough but fair process for the millions of unauthorized people living here to earn legal status. Let’s help them come out of the shadows.
Ultimately, an effective immigration system will respect the rule of law, respond to the needs of our economy, and reflect our nation’s values. Let’s work together to make this happen.