LIBRE’s POV on Immigration
America’s best days are still ahead, and immigrants are eager to contribute to it. Our country has enjoyed unparalleled success by welcoming people from around the world who seek to make a better life for themselves and their families. Welcoming immigrants enriches America with new ideas and empowers us all to drive progress, innovation, and opportunity. The LIBRE Initiative believes that we can welcome immigrants to this country AND provide security at our borders. There is common ground on this issue and if we focus on it, we can drive solutions that will improve our system for all of us.
Reforming the Legal Immigration System
Our immigration system is complex and inefficient – built on laws that have not been updated in decades. Our economy has doubled in size and our population has increased by 30% since the last major reform to our immigration system. With millions of jobs unfilled and a growing economy, it’s imperative that we have a dynamic immigration system that is responsive to the needs and demands of the American market.
America’s future is brighter with more people here and contributing to it. A clear legal immigration process promotes assimilation by making it easier for immigrants and their children to join communities, find jobs, enroll in schools, and fully embrace the American Dream. Providing them with legal certainty and the ability to plan for their futures empowers them to develop their talents, work, study, join in public service, and recognize their potential to contribute to society. Importantly, a workable legal immigration system will simplify the process for people to apply and immigrate through legal channels and reduce the incentive for immigrants to come here outside of our laws. With that in mind, reforms to our legal immigration system are a critical part of improving the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.
We support a system of visas that prioritize contributions to fill gaps in the labor market, generate new economic growth, and meet our present and future economic needs and demands – while securing our future with the ingenuity, entrepreneurship and hard work required to drive business and innovation.
Recognize Contributing Immigrants
Today’s immigration system keeps too many decent, industrious people from fully participating in the American experience—to the detriment of our country as a whole. It also needlessly regulates the actions of millions of Americans seeking the necessary labor pool to sustain their businesses.
Many people felt compelled to flee untenable conditions in their country of origin and have come to the United States in violation of our laws out of an understandable desire to build a better life, and because no workable legal avenue existed for them. While lawbreaking should not be overlooked, a workable visa system should exist to allow people to come here to work and contribute to the country.
We support a system that recognizes contributing members among the undocumented population and brings them out of the shadows with legal status. For those who want nothing more than to build a better future and contribute to our society, a permanent legislative solution is needed. Mass deportations are not a reasonable solution, and neither is the status quo – It does not make us safer or help our country.
We support a law that provides individuals with the ability to plan their lives, including permanent status for Dreamers. TPS recipients and DED recipients currently face uncertainty over their futures in a country that has been their home, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for over two decades and have been contributors to our communities, and our nation’s fabric. We support efforts that seek to bring immigrants out of the shadows and the vast majority of them, who are contributing members of our communities, to legally remain in the country.
Border Security, Enforcement, and Asylum
We should prevent those who would do us harm from doing so while, simultaneously, welcoming immigrants who will add immeasurable value to our economy and our culture. We can have more immigration, a stronger economy, and safer communities.
Border security efforts should allow our federal government to focus on establishing safety and security, by defending us from those who present risks to national security, and not those who simply want to apply their skills.
Additionally, America should preserve its history of fairly and expeditiously considering the claims made by those who present themselves at our borders. However, our laws do not require the United States to accept every asylum applicant, and we should not attempt to do so. While some changes to the asylum process may be warranted changes should focus on reducing the pressures at the border and allowing for fair proceedings and adequate enforcement.
Ultimately, a more secure border will be achieved once we provide better and more accessible legal options for immigrants to enter legally, which will ease the pressure on the border and remove a major incentive for illegal immigration.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We stand for rule of law
We believe in the rule of law, which is important for a society of mutual benefit. One step to strengthen the rule of law is to create an immigration system that welcomes immigrants through legal channels that are accessible and make sense for our nation today – so folks are not incentivized to pursue channels outside of our laws.
A functioning legal system that accounts for the wishes of folks wanting to sponsor or petition to bring in immediate relatives or potential employees, and of immigrants to come here, would allow our enforcement agents to focus on those seeking to do us harm because no legal channel exists for them. Right now mostly good, and some bad, people are commingled in one undocumented population because the legal channels that currently exist are so limited and cumbersome.
For those who are currently undocumented, we want to find a solution that allows them to get right with the law. Solutions we have seen and favor, require some sort of penalty and probationary period for those seeking to remain in the country through a new legal channel. We believe the punishment must fit the crime. Those who have entered the country illegally – or overstayed visas – have often created significant contributions to our societies. Nevertheless, asking them to pay their debt to society through a fine, or to wait in a probationary period, where they must continue to illustrate good standing, is appropriate. This is how we are different from “amnesty.”
We Support Efforts to Enforce the Law, But Enforcement Alone Won’t Solve the Problem
We support efforts to enforce the law. No organization has done more to advocate for legislation to fully fund the president’s border security request, while also protecting Dreamers. We are disappointed that in 2018 – when a clear majority in both the House and Senate voted to fund border barriers and provide certainty to Dreamers – leaders did not take the opportunity to enact legislation.
But enforcement alone will not solve this problem. Since 1993, the Border Patrol budget has increased from $363 million to more than $4.7 billion. And there are now just under 20,000 Border Patrol agents – about 6 times the number in 1986. But the only time crossings were drastically reduced from Mexico was back in the 1950s and 1960s, when the government issued more legal guest worker visas. By creating legal channels for would-be undocumented Mexican immigrants to easily apply for legal visas, the U.S. government – at that time – mostly resolved the problem with illegal border crossings of Mexican immigrants. By reducing a significant amount of the pressure placed onto our border patrol agents along the southern border, this significant drop in apprehensions allowed for our resources and personnel to more efficiently and effectively keep out those who wished to do harm.
We favor more immigration
Immigration boosts our economy.
Immigrants are about twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans, and immigrants currently produce over $2 trillion worth of goods and services in our economy. Almost half of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.
Immigrants are especially important now, when unemployment is at historic lows and more than 7 million jobs remain unfilled. Half of all the small and medium-sized business owners who responded to the NFIB’s June 2019 member survey reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.
Economic growth is weakened and American workers are hurt when employers cannot fill positions and take advantage of opportunities to expand and grow.
Our legal immigration system is out of date.
Congress created the employment-based (EB) green card’s annual numerical limit (140,000 per year) in 1990. That was before the internet and the digital economy, and even before the end of the Soviet Union. The economy has doubled in size since then.
The population has grown from 250 million to more than 325 million – a 30 percent increase. Further, this EB limit of 140,000 includes the immigrants plus their eligible spouses and minor children, meaning the actual number of employment-based immigrant workers was only 60,107 in 2017. Right now, the wait time for a green card for some nationalities is over a century.
As such, there should be an upward adjustment of employment-based immigration caps to account for 3 decades of economic growth – and the government should stop counting family members against the worker cap.
We Are Working Closely with the White House on Our Shared Priorities.
We’re in regular contact with the White House about our views on immigration and how to improve the current system. We agree with the president on the need to provide certainty to the Dreamers, and we agree with his often-stated view that the economy would benefit from expanded legal immigration.
Further, no organization has devoted a greater effort to encouraging Congress and the president to come together on a deal to provide legal status to Dreamers and fully fund the president’s border security agenda. We will continue to work with the president and anyone else to do right.
We do not believe in “Open Borders”
We are not for open borders. We are for fixing the immigration system so that good people can come in and bad people are kept out. Our current system keeps out too many good people who would contribute to this country. And doing so encourages them to pursue dangerous, costly, and unlawful ways to enter. It incentivizes illegal entry – making it harder for our law enforcement and border security to keep us safe.
We believe the best path forward for enhancing our security is to reject both extremes: those who would abolish ICE, and those who would close our border entirely. The best way to keep bad people out is to let good people in – allowing Border Patrol to focus on the truly dangerous individuals who would do us harm.
Jorge Lima, Senior Vice President of Policy for Americans for Prosperity, addressed our views on immigration security at the recent Stand Together Community Summit.