Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Report: “Major” Changes in Mexico, CentAm Should Lead to Immigration Reform

A report released on Monday concluded that now is the best time for immigration reform in the U.S. since it can be beneficial not only for that country but also Mexico and Central America.

The joint study from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the Wilson Center examined the demographic, social and economic changes in Mexico and Central America, and found that this can lead to greater “opportunities for their own people and strengthen regional competitiveness with new collaborative approaches on migration and human-capital development.” 

Among the “major” changes identified by the report are slowing population growth, rising educational attainment and growing middle classes in Mexico and El Salvador, the expanding economies in Mexico and Guatemala.  For example, the report noted that over the past decade Mexico has evolved into an immigrant destination that includes a foreign-born population at its highest level since 1940.

 “The longstanding assumption that the region has an endless supply of less-educated workers headed for the United States is becoming less and less accurate when it comes to Mexico; and in the years ahead, it is also likely to become less accurate first for El Salvador and gradually Guatemala,” said MPI President Demetrios Papademetriou.

As a result of their findings, the MPI and Wilson Center made several recommendations such as passing comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. that includes provisions like expanding the legalization process for millions of undocumented people.  At the same time, however, the report urges Mexico and Central America to modernize their immigration systems that would incentivize “greater back-and-forth movement and the skill and experience exchanges that accompany such movement.”

The MPI and Wilson Center report came out on the same day that a Heritage Foundation study concluded that a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform plan in the U.S. Senate would cost taxpayers over $6 trillion.  The Heritage report refutes the MPI/Wilson Center study by arguing against enacting immigration reform but also the conclusions reached by other think tanks.  (Last month, for instance, the American Action Forum conservative think tank projected that immigration reform could boost gross domestic product growth by a percentage point each year over the next decade).

While politicians wrangle over the possibility of changing immigration policy, a recent poll showed strong public support for a fair and wide-ranging reform:

Seventy-one percent of Americans approve immigration reform that would permit legalization of the undocumented population in the United States.

The survey, taken by the Global Strategy Group and Basswood Research, found that 74 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats support the bipartisan plan presented by the Senate’s “Gang of Eight”…

According to the study, 42 percent of voters are more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who favors immigration reform that offers a path to legalization and citizenship for the undocumented.

The majority of those polled also support each of the elements of the bill drawn up by the Gang of Eight, including the strengthening of border security, penalties for companies that hire undocumented workers, a guest-worker program, and reforming the system of visas for foreigners with high job qualifications.
Over the past few months, U.S. President Barack Obama has provided strong support to the immigration reform proposal from the Gang of Eight.

“In recent weeks, we've seen a common-sense immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate (with) common-sense steps that a majority of Americans support. So there's no reason that immigration reform can't become a reality this year,” said Obama during an official trip to Mexico last week.

Video Source– YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources - Migration Policy Institute; Univision.com; LAHT; Politico.com; Washington Post; CBS News

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