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Undocumented immigrants deserve a fair chance

Bobby Magers, Opinion Contributor
February 13, 2013
Filed under Opinion

“The good news is for the first time in many years, Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together,” said President Barack Obama last week when he spoke about his immigration reform plan, according to NPR. “The question is do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government, to finally put this issue behind us? I believe that we do.”

Obama recently outlined what he hoped would be his immigration policy which will give undocumented workers a clear pathway to citizenship, update the immigration system to the 20th century and provide enforcement and security around the border.

So why are the two parties starting to agree on this issue now? It’s simple. Our economy is the most important agenda item and allowing the undocumented worker to become legal — or a citizen — will help our economy in the long run.

Nobody will say that, but it’s true. Our world is a global market as well as a global workforce.

“In the global market, when we think of global capital, we also have to think of the flow of labor,” said Dr. Marcelo Cruz, Associate Professor of Urban Studies at the UW-Green Bay.

Our global workforce is mobile. Employees today are going to adjust to the economic climate and go to places where they can earn a decent wage and take care of their families.

So we kick out undocumented workers that are productive and lose the Federal Tax, Social Security Tax and FICA they were paying. This is counterproductive to our economic goals.

As Cruz points out, we have a lot more elderly citizens dependent on the government and not enough workers to help pay for these programs. Today’s younger generation is opting to have smaller families which means the workforce is dwindling while the elder population keeps growing.

Cruz also pointed out the inhumane treatment of the undocumented citizen by the immigration department.

“Why does it take 17 years for a person to be granted citizenship in this day and age?” Cruz said.

And I agree. With all the technological advances of our time, should it take so long to verify a person isn’t a criminal?

Obama’s plan asks the to country update the immigration department so an undocumented worker doesn‘t have to wait so long to be legal, eliminating their habit of flying under the radar.

According to CNN, now more than ever, a majority of Americans support a new and updated immigration policy that includes a pathway to citizenship, requiring employers to verify their new hires live in the U.S. and increasing the number of visas for legal immigrants that have advanced skills in technological and science.”

This is important in more ways than one. We are talking about those like you and me. They want to take care of their families, buy a house and basically be left alone. Instead, productive and law-abiding and undocumented workers get deported, and the U.S. loses revenue.

I’m eager to see if the two-party government will take this issue seriously and fix the problems. I would rather legalize an employee that has the drive to seek the American dream than keep a person hiding in the shadows and working for cash.

The statistics show reform will work. “The last time we permitted illegal immigrants to legalize, in 1986, incomes jumped for those who took advantage of the opportunity,” according to the New York Times. “Their children became more proficient in English and completed more years of school — becoming more productive and paying more taxes over their lifetimes.”

I also believe if we just give everybody a fair chance, our economy, workforce and pride would gain steam once again.