Immigration reform introduced in senate

Tedi Mathis

Four Republican and four Democratic senators from across the country came together to introduce legislation fixing what they called a “broken” immigration system in the United States.

The proposed legislation, both acknowledged the current problems with illegal immigration and proposed four areas of concentration to helping solve this problem.

The first focus would be a “tough but fair path to citizenship,” according to the legislation, and would ensure more secure borders while cracking down on visa overstays.

This includes opportunities for legal status, but also includes a sharper eye on border control as well as a fine with back pay on taxes for previously unauthorized immigrants. A goal with this section of the legislation would be to clarify that legal entry into the United States is the only entry option available.

A path to legal status, as proposed, would play a large role in the lives of many international students studying at Iowa State who are currently undocumented.

Sandra Rosado, president of Latinoamericanos, a group on campus which promotes and shares the Latino culture, said she personally knows people both in and out of the group who would benefit from the proposed legislation.

“A lot of them are afraid of applying to other [schools] because of their immigration status,” Rosado said.

Rosado is a graduate student in animal science working on her masters degree in genetics and said this fear of applying to other colleges is prevalant “especially for graduate students.”

Johnny Alcizar, vice president of Latinoamericanos, said the path to citizenship proposed would also be important for undocumented students looking for work after they finish their college education.

“There are a lot of intelligent people that are leaving after they graduate, and we are missing the opportunity to have them here and contributing to our economy,” Alcizar said.

This idea is supported by the second area of concentration proposed, which would focus on reforming our legal system in a manner that would better recognize important characteristics of the U.S. economy and family.

In the third area of concentration, legislation zeros in on work verification to help prevent identity theft and future hiring of unauthorized immigrants. “It is really a struggle for those who don’t have the proper documentation,” Alcizar said.

Finally, the legislation would continue to focus on employment of immigrants, establishing a future process for hiring immigrant workers while protecting our nation’s workers by requiring that the employer show they could not recruit an American worker.

Dave Peterson, professor of political science, thought that though this legislation had very little impact on current Iowa immigration, it could affect many students currently studying at Iowa State.

“For the most part, our legislature is pretty good at avoiding sideline issues for the state,” Peterson said. “I am sure there are some student who will be affected by this; I just have no idea of that number.”

Both Rosado and Alcizar agree. “There are some members that would definitely benefit from the immigration reform,” Rosado said. “I know of people on campus that are, right now, undocumented.”

One question that remains to be seen is if this legislation will make it through congress.

“It will be something that is positive if it is actually done,” Alcizar said. “This has come up in the past, but time after time it just dies down somehow.”

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., John McCain, R-Ariz., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on Jan. 29, 2013.