An ongoing battle in the U.S., the passing of immigration reform now appears likely due to political strategy and benefits it would create for American business, Boston University professors and students said.
“This time it’s going to happen simply because the Republican Party has no choice but to support some kind of immigration reform package,” said international relations professor Joseph Wippl. “They have no choice because they’re not going to be able to select anyone as president unless they stop or change their profile of being an anti-immigration political party.”
U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech on his proposals for immigration reform in Las Vegas Tuesday, outlining his thoughts on the importance of reform to his country and constituents.
“The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that’s always been one of our greatest strengths,” Obama said in his speech. “It keeps our workforce young, it keeps our country on the cutting edge. And it helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.”
Obama said immigrants helped start technology giants such as Google and Yahoo!, and that one out of four technology startups in recent years can be attributed to the work of immigrants.
He also said immigrants are responsible for creating new industries that in turn, created new jobs.
“We all know that today we have an immigration system that is out of date, and badly broken — a system that is holding us back instead of helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class,” he said.
Wippl said immigration reform is a complicated issue, but may take focus away from bettering the skills and education of American citizens.
“It bothers me a bit simply because, number one, it means we’re not educating our own population and secondly, we’re stealing skilled people from countries that need skilled people in order to develop,” he said.
However, Wippl said he can see the position of American business and how increasing numbers of skilled workers are necessary.
“It should give us more incentive to educate our own people,” Wippl said.
David Torres, a College of Arts and Sciences senior, said Obama has deported more immigrants than past presidents have, including George Bush and Bill Clinton.
“Obama isn’t exactly a champion of immigration reform — however, one of the things that he has done is put it on the table,” Torres said.
Torres said Obama is urging Congress to consider the reform bill and attempting to get it passed by appealing to both political parties.
“I do like that he’s getting bipartisan support more,” Torres said. “I think it’s been important and shows that he’s serious about it and it’s good leadership — I think that’s something President Obama has done wonderfully.”
He said Obama might be pushing harder for immigration reform now that he does not have to worry about campaigning again or being reelected.
“He’s doing it now that it’s his second term because there’s not necessarily ramifications,” Torres said. “It’s easier to get away with somewhat much more controversial legislation.”
Amy Singleton, a College of Engineering junior, said immigration is important because certain people need to leave their countries and should be allowed to pursue opportunities provided within the U.S.
“Immigration in itself isn’t bad, especially because some people really need it, for political reasons and relocation from different kinds of wars and all that,” she said. “The only downside of immigration is that our population is really big, but I don’t see that much of a downside.”
Shaheena Nathani, a School of Hospitality Administration junior and international student from Indonesia, said she thinks immigration reform is important from an economic standpoint.
“Having more people that are willing to spend more money is just going to be better for the country,” she said.
Nathani said Indonesia is doing well, even in a struggling global economy.
“I’m not even an American citizen, I’m from Indonesia, and Indonesia is a country that is booming right now and that’s [high population is] exactly why,” she said. “They have a lot of people making a lot of money and they’re just living well.”