Reinventing American Immigration Policy for the 21st Century

With an estimated eleven to twelve million undocumented workers currently in the United States, the need for immigration reform is critical.  As lawmakers grapple with the question of how to best meet the needs of the country, they should keep in mind that the United States is a country of immigration.  If the U.S. reverts to a guest worker program like that proposed by the Bush administration, it should expect the results that history suggests—worker exploitation, falling wages, deteriorating working conditions, and discrimination.  However, proposals calling for immediate permanent legal status also fail to completely address the needs of the country because the United States is no longer the developing country it once was.  Therefore, a fundamentally new policy is likely necessary to address the number of undocumented workers in the United States as well as the needs of the country.  One such policy would allow guest workers to obtain permanent legal status through a points program that would award points for achievements that promote both social and economic integration, and thus preserve the melting pot.

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