Immigration, visa reform desperately needed

April 3, 2013 — by Sophie Mattson

Currently an immigration reform bill is being drafted in Senate in order to help 300,000 undocumented immigrants currently living in America under Temporary Protective Status, or TPS, which gives them refuge from physical danger in their home country. The bill would offer these undocumented immigrants, 60 percent of whom are from Mexico, a faster way of gaining citizenship. 

Addressing the issue of immigrants living in America under TPS is long overdue. These immigrants live in fear each day of deportation, and should be allowed to remain in America, where many of these immigrants have lived for most of their lives.

Although that the issue of citizenship is a pressing matter that should be resolved, the most important change that needs to be addressed is the way that new and future immigrants from Mexico are treated today. 

Rather than forcing immigrants to risk their lives to cross the border, six-month work visas should be issued to potential immigrants so they can come to America to work every six months. This way, workers from Mexico would have enough money to save up and sustain their families for the six months that they have returned home, and be able to travel back to America for another six months. 

The typical American has the view that migrant workers wish to come to America to live there permanently. However, when illegal immigrants come to America for work, they often live in cramped houses with a dozen or so other immigrants, and spend each day in fear of being deported back to Mexico. 

The immigrants don’t like to be away from their home country and often leave their entire families behind in order to send money back home. If immigrants are able to have a steady work schedule without worrying about the risks of crossing the border illegally, they would relish the opportunity to spend half a year at home with their families. 

A six-month work visa would also greatly benefit immigrants who pick crops in fields, as they could come to America during the harvest seasons of various crops. 

Americans opposed to allowing immigrants into the country tend to do so out of fear that the immigrants would fill up jobs that otherwise could be taken by American citizens. However, most jobs filled by Mexican workers are seldom pursued by Americans themselves. 

Immigrants often work in labor-intensive positions, such as field hands, janitors, gardeners, housekeepers or slaughterhouse workers. 

When Americans lose their jobs, they tend to look for positions similar to what they worked in previously or train at community colleges or at workers training programs for other occupations. They rarely become strawberry pickers in the Central Valley or gutters at a meatpacking plant. 

We need workers in these vital positions because they are the backbone of certain industries, and need to be filled by people who are more than willing to work in the positions.

In addition to supporting industry, the implementation of work visas might reduce the amount of money the federal government funnels into the war on drugs. More Mexican people would have steady employment and thus fewer would desperately turn to drug smuggling as a means of earning a living. 

Although the implementation of work visas is not guaranteed to halt the war on drugs, it would certainly free up more money for the U.S. government to go to other areas, such as education reform and health insurance. 

If work visas were given to migrant workers, companies could reach out to recruit workers in Mexico in order to streamline the process in which workers are hired. 

Since illegal immigration in inevitable, rather than relentlessly try to repress it, the smoke in the mirrors of immigrant employment should be removed once and for all. This way, companies could provide immigrants’ employment documents to the IRS and the federal government without risk of fraud, and illegal immigrants would be exploited to a much lesser degree in the workplace because they would have a choice of where to work. 

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