A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators could soon reveal its immigration reform plan. For years, the issue of how to deal with people coming here illegally has languished in Washington. UW-Madison Political Scientist Ben Marquez says reform presents immense challenges because of the many variables involved.
Among those Marquez lists: the U.S. has always been very suspicious if not hostile toward immigrants, the country has been experiencing tough economic times during which immigrants can be made scapegoats and Congress has been polarized ideologically.
Marquez perceives business taking a lead role in calling for reform. He says small businesses may want a good supply of low-cost labor, while bigger companies may want to easily move high-skilled workers back and forth between facilities in different countries. The professor says U.S. agriculture has long depended on workers who migrate and would like certainty about regulations.
According to Marquez, the U.S. should decide how to deal with people coming here illegally, because the trend is likely to continue. "The United States is a very desirable place to live, and we’re dealing with one of the most powerful motivating forces in human society, and that is the desire to protect and promote the well-being of your family. They don’t leave their homes, they don’t everything they’ve known to come to a strange country because they would just like to. They do it because there is a great need in their families. That is a very, very hard thing to stop,” Marquez says.
Marquez expects the eventual immigration reform plan to include tougher border security, rules for employers and amnesty for millions.