The impact of immigration reform on rural America has not been at the forefront of the debate in Washington, D.C.
The Center for Rural Affairs urges passage of comprehensive federal legislation to reform America’s fundamentally broken immigration policy. It is crucial that Congress understands that immigration reform is vitally important to rural America.
Immigration reform should create opportunities for undocumented immigrants who fulfill the requirements for obtaining citizenship to remain in the U.S. as citizens, while creating a more robust process for legal immigration that shortens the waiting list for future immigrants.
Also, limits on the number of manually skilled workers allowed to immigrate into the U.S. each year should be practical and appropriate and determined by an independent commission, free of partisan rancor. The U.S. admits only 10,000 manually skilled workers on work visas each year, about one for every 100 immigrants who enter without a visa and find work. The door to legal immigration used by earlier generations is today largely closed for all but the wealthy.
Moreover, we need more effective enforcement of existing wage and labor laws and the prohibition on hiring undocumented immigrants and falsely classifying them as independent contractors.
The Center for Rural Affairs stands ready to encourage and participate in efforts to fully engage immigrants in rural communities through support for minority business development, voter registration, leadership development and other means. These approaches bring people together and build community - things we work for every day.