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EDIT: Immigrant reforms on Washington agenda

As Obama commences his own efforts regarding the issue, a group of both Democrat and Republican senators have also made immigration reform a priority.

“We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were born here, who were brought here by their parents when they were small children, to live in the shadows, as well,” said Arizona senator John McCain, according to the Guardian.

It is true that industrious immigrant families often make for hardworking citizens who contribute to the workforce. Accommodating them would, ideally, benefit the country.

The principles of a comprehensive plan of action will be set forth this week, according to the Guardian. Exact outlines have yet to be stated, but McCain has said that the new plan will be similar to a 2007 immigration proposal that faded during the tenure of U.S. President George W. Bush. It had included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, tighter borders, a guest worker program and requirements for employers to verify workers’ immigration statuses, according to the Guardian.

Addressing the issue of immigration is — and always has been — important. A sticky issue once overlooked by the conservative party, immigration has become a bipartisan concern, especially after Obama won the presidency with help from a large Hispanic voter population. The U.S. hosts an increasingly large demographic of Hispanic immigrants. Once a minority, these newcomers are becoming a majority. Republicans must cater to this growing demographic. Part of doing so means reforming immigration laws. (Ultimately, only legal immigrants can vote.)

The correct way to go about doing so is yet uncertain, however. Border control policies vary by state, so imposing a federal and universal system might be difficult. Politicians are undoubtedly considering the implications and ramifications of loosening or tightening the borders, or changing the citizenship process, etc.

If they tighten the borders, it can be assumed that illegal immigration will continue. This is due greatly in part to the fact that America continues to offer a better life to those who make the dangerous effort to immigrate — a number of American employers continue to hire their cheap labor. And immigrants, often — more so than Americans — are willing to work cheaply. Cracking down on these employers might be a first step toward successful reform.

Loose borders, on the other hand, also pose a threat to our national safety. A lack of strong border controls and a weak immigration policy is one of the biggest reasons American youth, especially in Southern states, have access to drugs. This is creating a drug problem in our own country. Opening borders to the strong force of the Mexican drug cartel means we’re failing to protect ourselves.

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