Immigration Policy and the U.S. Presidential Election

Every year, nearly a million people immigrate
to the United States. Over 41 million legal and undocumented immigrants
live in the country today – that’s 13 percent of the population. How the U.S. deals with the flow of immigrants
directly affects the country’s security and economy. So why is immigration reform so controversial?
Here’s a rundown of the sticking points. BORDER SECURITY Immigration policy aims to enable the flow
of visitors and migrants while stopping terrorism, contraband, and unauthorized people. The United States spends nearly $18 billion
dollars a year on immigration enforcement. But there are still security gaps resulting
in illegal entries, primarily through the U.S.-Mexico border. The debate centers around: Which enforcement
methods are most effective? UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS Those who enter the country illegally or overstay
past the legal limit, often settle and develop deep roots. Some were brought to the country as children;
many have U.S.-born children. But these 11.5 million people have no legal
status, creating economic and social complications, such as gaps in tax collection and the amount
of public services. The big question here: Should there be a path
to legal status or citizenship for undocumented immigrants? REFUGEES Trends indicate that unauthorized migration
is made up more and more of refugees fleeing violence in Central America, and much less
of job-seekers from Mexico. The rise in asylum-seekers has strained an
already overwhelmed U.S. immigration system. And the debate continues over how to handle
the flow of refugees? And how to address the needs of additional refugees from the Middle
East? LEGAL IMMIGRATION American employers can hire a limited number
of foreign workers with advanced education or work experience. These high-skilled immigrants make significant
contributions to the economy. However, there is disagreement over whether
these immigrants are replacing American workers at lower wages. Should more high-skilled people be allowed
to immigrate? – That’s the question. Comprehensive immigration reform that addresses
all of these questions has eluded Washington for years. Presidential candidates will debate their
plans but only Congress can rewrite the nation’s immigration laws. So what can the president do? Use executive
powers to veto bills and set policy on how strictly the law is enforced. Whether working with Congress, or acting independently,
the next president has the power to significantly shape immigration policy.

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