Q&A with T. Douglas Stump
Immigration reform could bring more degreed, unskilled labor
Q. Some observers believe the passage of the immigration reform bill won't accomplish much in the short-term. What are your thoughts?
A: The bill in its current form would immediately increase visa numbers for highly talented foreign nationals with U.S. degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These “STEM”-degreed foreign nationals immediately would aid U.S. companies in their pursuits to develop advanced technologies needed to strengthen our economy and to compete with other nations that have surged ahead of the U.S. in the last several years. The bill would allow 11 million undocumented aliens to legally enter the U.S. workforce by becoming current on all back taxes and paying substantial fines necessary to obtain Registered Provisional Immigrant status (RPI) and, after waiting 10 years, apply for lawful resident alien status and ultimately seek U.S. citizenship. These workers immediately would help alleviate unmet needs in the hotel and restaurant, agriculture, oil and gas, construction and other sectors that rely heavily on unskilled and semiskilled labor for seasonal and temporary positions. In exchange, those who pressed for enhanced border security, eliminating federal benefits to the undocumented, and further restricting family-based sponsorship will see the availability of 20,000 additional border patrol officers, e-verify for all workers and the inability of registered provisional immigrants to obtain Medicare, food stamps and other federal benefits.
Q: What obstacles have yet to be cleared, and why?
A: The legislation as passed in the Senate bill essentially provides the border protections and other restrictions set out by opposition groups as a requirement for passage. Now legislation must pass the House of Representatives. The House isn't as far along as the Senate but is making progress toward some type of immigration reform. The chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has introduced a number of bills that deal with individual pieces of reform and the committee began markup of those bills the week of June 17. The House bipartisan Gang of Eight is now the Gang of Seven as Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Ida., has officially left the group. The Gang of Seven has indicated they will be introducing its own version of a comprehensive bill, but that path is still unclear.