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Facts At Your Fingertips

Foundations of Immigration Reform
Green Cards
Most immigrants who receive green cards get them because someone in their family is already a resident of the US. Family ties are important, but shouldn’t trump all other priorities, like helping to fill excessive vacancies in the labor market. More slots should be allocated on the basis of our country’s occupational needs.
Alternative to Deportation
Instead of deporting or providing amnesty, which would encourage illegal entry in the future, one reasonable approach would be to fine undocumented immigrants .
“Z” Visa For Undocumented Immigrants
Congress should create a “Z” visa, to be issued to undocumented immigrants who can demonstrate that on the day the bill is signed, they have been in the U.S. for say, three years or more and have no criminal record.
Benefits of "Z" Visa
The visa would allow them, their spouses and children to stay, provided that they pay an annual visa fee of, say, a few hundred dollars. Anyone with a “Z” visa could continue working while applying for a green card and paying the annual fee, but they would have to go to the back of the line, as would be the case if they were applying from their origin country. This approach neither favors nor penalizes them on their path for citizenship.
Discouraging Future Illegal Immigration
Employer enforcement is essential to ensure that the undocumented do not choose to stay in the shadows rather than pay the fee for a “Z” visa. Programs like E-Verify, where firms check if workers have a valid Social Security number, are necessary and should be enhanced. Firms that hire undocumented workers should be fined heavily, but should also be given safe harbor if E-Verify confirms that an applicant is permitted to work in this country.
Border Enforcement
While border enforcement is necessary and uncontroversial, it is insufficient because nearly half of all illegal immigrants in the U.S. entered the country legally and then overstayed their visas.
Creating A Balanced Immigration
Creating a system of more balanced immigration, introducing a Z visa to deal with the current population of undocumented immigrants, and adopting measures to discourage illegal entry in the future would significantly improve our immigration system.