Our immigration system is broken, everybody agrees with that. The sad things is that nobody takes a step to fix it.. Nobody. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans.
All the while, the 11 million undocumented continue to live in the shadows, afraid of being caught and deported to the country they don't want to return.
But there's more. There are inmmigrants with excepcional talents, the type any country would do the impossible to have them, except the United States.
Like Canada, where almost 65% of all immigrant visas are work related. In the US, on the contrary, the same percentage is given to family reunification while there are firms and corporations that are having a hard time to fill about 3 million jobs. They need skilled workers and technicians.
Most of all the foreign students that complete their studies here, end up returning to their countries to pursue their careers. For these cases, we have the H1-B visas, but they are not enough to cover our demand. In just a few days, all the visas available for each year are given.
A lot of folks talk about the border, and how we need to step up the efforts in stopping illegal immigration. But the truth of the matter is that none of the September 11 hijackers came through the border without inspection. They all came with visas.
How can we fix the immigration mess? Here are three steps we can take.
First, we should focus our attention on the 11 millions of undocumented. They cannot go on living in the shadows and it's an illusion to think that we can deport them all. But we should detect, detain and deport those with serious convictions.
Then, we open a system where they can apply for temporary residence that would allow them to come clean, get a Social Security number and pay all their taxes.
Then, we can give them permanente residence if they can prove that they a have a job, that they would not become a public charge and that they know English. Something like this did Ronald Reagan in 1986 when he pushed, and got, his immigration reform. More than 3 millon people benefited with IRCA.
We the sould do away with the obsolete H1-B visas that require a jo offer to apply. If they have the talent and experience we need, we let them come. This way, we would be able to attract those qualified immigrants and fill the 3 millon jobs available.
Finally, we should eliminate the waiting period for visas based on family reunification and let everybody in in the next three years. After that, the waiting period should not be longer than a year, for any immigrant visa based on family.
It's time for Congress to have the political courage to tackle this issue and fix the system. The undocumented, the professional immigrants and family members of folks here have been waiting for too long.