Issue Of The Week LV: Conservative & Liberal Lawmakers Concerned About Proposed Immigration Reform Legislation

April 22, 2013
Written by Russell Roberts in
National Collegiate Dialogue
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After last year’s deadlock in the Senate over immigration reform bill President Obama introduced, can we really trust the Senate to come through this year with a fair and equal plan for immigrants? Photo Credit:

Immigration reform legislation, one of the surest paths to reducing racism in America by removing anger and disdain toward minorities, was unveiled in the Senate on April 16 and immediately criticized by both liberals and conservatives, leaving its fate uncertain.

"This has something for everybody to hate," said Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

Concern is evident with some liberals about the citizenship path the bill proposes, citizenship would take 13 years. During the first 10 years, immigrants would not be eligible for federal benefits, and would live here in a provisional legal status. Immigrants would have to pay $2,000 in fines as well as hundreds more in outstanding taxes and fees. No one with a felony conviction or more than three misdemeanors would be eligible for citizenship, and no one who entered the United States after December 31, 2011 could apply for it.

The citizenship path is also dependent on various border security “triggers” first being met.

Some conservatives criticized the bill as providing amnesty for people currently in America illegally. They also felt that the bill opens a floodgate to immigration that could cause wages of U.S. workers to plummet.

altEssentially the bill would shift the American immigration system from emphasizing family ties to emphasizing worker skills or employment opportunities.

President Barack Obama has made immigration reform a top priority in his second term. “This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me,” Obama said. “But it is largely consistent with the principles that I repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. I urge the Senate to quickly move this bill forward.”

A recent poll revealed 63 percent, including majorities across party lines, favored the immigration reform. After Obama received over 70 percent of the Latino vote in his re-election victory, Republicans realized they needed to appeal more to Latinos, the largest minority group in the United States.

It is important to note that business, labor, and immigration rights groups support the bill.

What do you think?

National Collegiate Dialogue


The bill seems pretty harsh

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-32 on

The bill seems pretty harsh and may be criticized, but no one can argue that our immigration policy is currently fine. I agree with the main points of who can apply for citizenship and when, but it does not appear to provide a solution to the thousands of immigrants currently living in the United States illegally. The illegal workers are earning wages and sending them back to home. This is detrimental to our economy. Hopefully both parties will be able to settle on a compromise and find a way to effectively allow immigrants to make a safe and legal passage to America.

Interesting Bill

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-15 on

The bill seems harsh for undocumented persons, but I would say it is somewhat of a compromise. It definitely assists some of the undocumented persons and I think that is a lot more than they previously have had. I know a lot of people are against illegal immigration, and I have an opinion about it too, but it is something that has and is still happening and this bill is a way to help control it somewhat. I think the parameters are so harsh because they need to be to assist in the control of illegal immigration. Overall I think the bill is a necessary “evil” and I would like to see it get passed and see what it does for the control of illegal immigration.

Applaudable but weak

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-9 on

While I applaud the efforts to create reform, it needs to be realized that both sides will never agree on anything except votes on pay raises for themselves.While it is good to see efforts to make change, I do not understand the rationale to take 10-13 years to be granted citizenship. What are the immigrants supposed to do in the meantime, lay low and avoid the feds? Another thing, how will legalizing immigrants hurt the wages of Americans? Although Latinos are becoming one of the largest minority groups, I hardly believe that it is fair to say they are taking American wages. This is purely racist. All Americans compete with other Americans for the best jobs, wages, benefits, and education, regardless of their skin color.I also do not understand where these $2000 in fines came from or what they are for. Do European immigrants have to pay these as well? The process should be the same across the board, regardless of which border one is entering and no ethnic group should be fined any more than the next to be granted citizenship.

Flawed Bill

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-12 on

I cannot help but feel deeply concerned about this legislation. First, no human being is illegal, and I argue that being called illegal or alien follows the same roots of racism as we try to normalize, historically and today.Immigrants have no money to pay the huge taxes and fines which are proposed, and thirteen years (however less than some immigrant families wait) is too long. No one with a misdemeanor can be here even though immigrants can be stopped and taken away to detainee camps without any crime commited.There is much to be said and learned about current immigration policy. I would like to see better laws passed as everyone here should be entitled to basic human rights, in my opinion, and current laws surrounding immigration do not serve humanity.

It's About Location

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-44 on

I don't think the terminology used is to imply that anyone is 'illegal'; rather it is a shorthand term to suggest that the individual in question is not abiding by the law.

I would have to disagree with

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-37 on

I would have to disagree with you on a point. I think that being called illegal or an alien is better to the alternative in which they technically are, a criminal. When you enter the country illegally you have broken a law and are therefore a criminal. The other sounds a little better.


Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-36 on

My only question to you is what right do Americans, the same people who came here and took over a land already inhabited and forced those inhabitants to conform to our way of doing things, have the right to call anyone an illegal?

You are correct in that

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-37 on

You are correct in that statement, but that has happened all across the world. What Americans did was one of the most untinkable acts committed against human beings. That being said, If Americans did not than our country would become overpopulated.

I disagree

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-36 on

If you look at the history of our country, in times of prosperity we have welcomed immigrants to come and work. Then as soon as the economy takes a negative turn, we say those immigrants are taking our jobs and pushing for them to leave. Really this isn't about over crowding or over population. Personally, I think in light of what we did here to the Native American Indians, we should be more willing to live up to the verbage of the Statue of Liberty.

Laws Are There For A Reason

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-44 on

Is this really fair to all the people who come to this country legally and contribute to society in a legitimate manner and who work hard to gain citizenship? Furthermore,the biggest problem with this bill is that nobody knows what it actually contains. It is an unwieldy behemoth that too few lawmakers have actually reviewed in earnest. Rather than being an effective tool for real reform, it's another symbolic feelgood gesture that fails to address real issues. We have laws that already exist that are not being enforced. So why create yet another bureaucratic labyrinth of paperwork?

I think that the idea of this

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-37 on

I think that the idea of this is good, but there are so many better options out there. When I moved to Switzerland when I was 17 my entire family was required to get residency permits to live there, even if you were not employed. There are different types of permits. From what I remember there was A, B and C, which had to deal with how long you had been there. You could not own property until you reached a C (I believe I cannot remember). To become a citizen you had to live there for a long time. It took some of my friends 20 years to become citizens, and then they had to serve in the military (required for all citizens). The permits are very regulated and maintained. I think that we should be researching other countries where it has worked rather than try to come up with our own ideas.

Good idea

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-36 on

I like your post especially in regards to not reinventing the wheel. There are many countries around the globe and surely some have successfully dealt with this issue.

I like it

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-5 on

I think it's a great idea. I think it would reduce racism towards minorities if they earned their way in, instead of just traveling over. I think this would help control immigration which is what we need. I think as long we we put our country and workers first, then this bill will be successful. I wonder if this bill talks about the current immigrants that are already here illegally and what this new bill would mean to them.

What If....

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-41 on

You speak about people earning their way instead of traveling over but people come to the U.S. for many reasons not just because they think the U.S. would be a great place to live. In the case of immigration to escape persecution they most often come here with nothing, how can we expect that they pay when often they don't speak English to obtain a job right away. I think this should be a major consideration. If we allow people to immigrate they are technically our part of our country and deserve the same benefits. If they are more qualified than an American citizen is it right to give the American the job? Just my perspective......

Good Start

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-36 on

What I like is that it does represent compromise, which I feel is the only way I believe we will ever pass an immigration reform bill. There is not enough in this article to tell me how much I like or dislike it and I know it is a large bill and no single article would be able to give enough coverage. My concerns begin with the costs. These people are not rich by any means and I am not sure how they would pay the proposed fees. My next concern and probably my largest concern revolves around notification. How are we going to notify all of the people this bill would apply to? It seems to me that this bill represents a good start, but as someone mentioned above, why not look at other countries that have successfully dealt with immigration. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Melting Pot

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-16 on

I think the fact that no one is getting what they want and the proposed bill is a compromise has merit, and that it is good. I think that a $2000 fine plus extra is a steep price to pay. We should be happy that people want to be here rather than their own country and welcome them. That being said, there should be a limit to how many people can come at a time, but we shouldn't be opposed to welcoming people. America has historically been a melting pot and I think the people mainly opposed to immigration reform represent the prominent social identities, such as being white, male, Christian, etc.


Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-41 on

Immigration is a very sensitive topic in the United States and I personally do not feel as though there will ever be a consensus on the subject. The problems I see as outlined in the article; if immigrants are not eligible for federal benefits for ten years and with the current state of our economy and lack of work how would the government expect them to pay taxes and fines? I think that the proposed policy (which I’m sure there is more to it than this article discusses) has both positive and negative attributes. I wonder where “anchor babies” enter this equation and how that situation will be handled. The other portion of this article that I would like to address is the Republican stance on immigration. Given the fact that Republican support has dwindled amongst minorities I feel that if they choose to support a favorable immigration policy it is only with the intent to sway voting. This is evident in same-sex marriage as well. I don’t think they are concerned with the actual issue other than how it affects them economically and in the polls.

Reform Needed

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-1 on

I think that a reform for our immigration is needed very much for this country and should be equal to anyone regardless of nationality. There is so much animosity towards illegal immigrants that in my mind if we give them opportunities to become citizens and rid ourselves of the "you don't belong" attitude, this would be a better country. It's always been interesting to me how easy it is for Europeans to move here and become citizens. Even if they are here "illegally", they are never looked at as criminals. This country is a melting pot of people from all nationalities, ethnicity's, etc. Many come for more opportunity. I don't see this as a problem as long as we regulate the citizenship process and open it to anyone who is whiling to go through it. Something that has always bothered me is that people often complain about illegal immigrants coming in and taking "our" jobs when most of the time we, as in the big corp owners, hire them to do the jobs we don't want to do. They don't seem to have a problem with that. It often seems like a form of paid slavery.

Immigration Reform

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-31 on

I think that there does need to be some reform made in immigration policies. I feel that if a person wants to become an American citizen they should have that right. My sister-in-law became an American citizen, but it was a long and arduous process. I think the process should be simplified or those who petition for citizenship should have assistance through the process. I do not feel that people immigrate here illegally to take jobs from Americans. I think that they want to become citizens but may not have access to the resources to make their wish a reality. Making the process easier or providing help to those who apply for citizenship needs to be a priority.

The Immigration Reform

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-2 on

I definitely agree with some of the previous comments along the lines of labeling immigrants as “illegal aliens.” This terminology does seem to perpetuate the never-ending cycle of racism that our country has been built upon. I don’t think that it is right for anyone to label another human being with harsh words such as “illegal” or “aliens.” Rather than helping us to assimilate with one another, use of these terms seems to designate an “other,” making those who receive this label appear to be something less than human or something that doesn’t belong on this planet. It needs to stop.As for the immigration reform, a new policy is certainly far overdue. The United States currently faces problems with the high number of non-citizens who are living here. I believe that thirteen years combined with expensive fines is a tad extensive to become a citizen, but perhaps it will help to separate those who are intent to stay from those who are not. I believe that everyone deserves a chance to have the same opportunities, but unfortunately the same opportunities are not afforded to everyone. Hopefully if this reform passes, it will set us in the right direction, rather than hurting us more.


Submitted by UCCS-S2013-11 on

I believe as many of you do that the term illegal alien is not one that is looked upon fondly. It is just another way of dehumanizing people so we can think of them more like objects instead of as human beings with stories just like th rest of us.As far as immigration reform goes, I also believe that something needs to be done. I felt as some others did that 13 years seemed like a long time, and having to pay fines seems a little harsh also. But as the President stated, the bill is a compromise. I wish more could be done concerning the negative attitudes towards illegal immigrants, but that is more difficult to reform.

Not sure how i feel new

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-9 on

I look at this article the same way I look at the immigration argument in general, confused. I can see arguments to both points and I can see why we it would be reasonable to not want illegal immagrants in the country because it goes against our laws, but I also see these immigrants as human beings and should be able to be treated as such. I think that this reform has a bit of everything for everybody. I think that 13 years of work to get citizenship is a tough thing for people. But I can also see why it is fair. To me (and maybe this is only my ignorance of the topic speaking), our problem lies within the legal immigration process. Is it too expensive and tedious to migrate to America. If we are talking about immigrants from Mexico, I think that our government systems are so different that it is a hard transition to make, and that is why we have a lot of illegal immigrants because that is the easier option. And by no means is being illegal in this country an "easy" choice, but it has to say something if people would rather be illegally in the country because it is too hard to be in the country legally.