Op-ed highlights immigrants as key contributors to Michigan’s economy
(GRAND RAPIDS, MI) – This week The Holland Sentinel published an op-ed penned by Marge Bermann, The LIBRE Initiative-Michigan’s Community Engagement Director.
The op-ed uncovers the push and pull factors that cause reoccurring surges at our southern border, points to outdated immigration laws and calls on congress to pass the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act of 2021 to address current and future surges.
Read the full op-ed here.
Below are experts from the article:
It’s clear that both our state and our nation benefit from immigration. Here in Michigan, immigrants paid nearly $8 billion in taxes and contributed more than $20 billion in spending power in 2019. They are key contributors to important sectors of the state economy, such as manufacturing and health care. But while immigration is good, our system is not.
Surges at the southern border have become a regular occurrence. They’re prompted by a range of factors, including economic conditions, favorable weather, and changes in U.S. government signals about immigration rules. While we have an understanding of what drives them and how to address them, Congress has steadfastly refused to take action.
We should not expect these laws to function properly today – not considering how long it has been since they were updated. The last major reform of legal immigration was approved in 1990, and enforcement last saw a broad review in 1996. Whole industries have arisen since these reforms, and the “push factors” that drive people to leave their home countries have changed as well.
We need to evaluate the valuable contributions that immigrants seek to make in today’s diverse and growing economy, and make sure the system properly accounts for them. In a world where so many refugees seek asylum and the chance to build a new life, we must determine the best way for the United States to offer refuge. And with many would be immigrants arriving at our borders because no legal avenue is open to them, we must decide how best to enhance border security.
One such piece of legislation is the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act, introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Reps. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX). This measure is built on carefully targeted reforms that will help border officials improve administration of security at the border. It creates pilot programs to streamline asylum decisions, establishes at least four regional processing centers in key Border Patrol sectors, and improves inspections of facilities caring for unaccompanied children. Additionally, the bill provides increased funding for processing of migrants and the hiring of additional border personnel. This legislation will be among the leading options discussed when Daniel Garza, president of The LIBRE Initiative, meets with community leaders and others here in Holland next week.
These are the sort of straightforward, practical steps needed to begin to update our laws. If President Joe Biden is genuinely committed to smart policy built around bipartisan consensus, he ought to work with the sponsors of this legislation to move it through Congress expeditiously. If he is willing to do so, he may find that a small success sets the stage for additional progress. While our immigration laws won’t be updated overnight, starting the process is the first key step.