Following the news this week that a bipartisan group of eight senators unveiled an immigration reform blueprint that they hope the Senate will pass “in overwhelming and bipartisan fashion” by late spring or early summer, we wanted to get Maria Echaveste on the line to unpack the bill and the implications of this debate.
Maria is a Lecturer at the University of California’s Berkeley School of Law. She served as a senior White House and U.S. Department of Labor official under President Bill Clinton. Among her responsibilities in this role was overseeing issues relating to Mexico and Latin America. Maria is also a non-resident fellow of the Center for American Progress working on issues such as immigration, civil rights, education and Latin America.
Last time we had Maria on the show was in October, before the election, to talk about the hispanic/latin american vote and immigration policy. Since then, President Obama won reelection with 70% of the hispanic vote and, surprisingly, 70% of the Asian-American vote too. It’s clear that the Republican party, loosing the popular vote in five out of the last six elections, needs to win back large sections of the population, and immigration reform could provide the perfect opportunity.
We talk to Maria about whether the bipartisan nature of this blueprint is cause for hope, or whether we should remain sceptical because because any legislation still has to pass the Republican House. We also talk about Senator Rubio whose reversal on this topic may or may not be a sign of things to come for the immigration debate and the political landscape in general.
From politics, we move to the 4 key components of the bill: 1. border enforcement. 2. employer enforcement, 3. the handling of the flow of legal immigration (including temporary agricultural workers and high-skilled engineers) and 4. a pathway to citizenship for those who entered the nation illegally. While in 2010, Maria and other experts were recommending a piecemeal approach to immigration reform, today she confirms that in this new political climate, a comprehensive approach to legislation is the best way — combining security and employer enforcement with paths to citizenship and high-skilled immigration.
Next, we talk a little about the economic arguments surrounding immigration: the likelihood of new citizens being drain on the public treasury versus the likelihood of more economic growth as the workface expands more people have full healthcare benefits — therefore no longer needing to rely on inordinately expensive emergency room treatment. Not to mention the fact that wages will go up for everyone once fewer people are being paid under the table and off the record.
Finally, we talk a little about the wider political implications of this legislation on the 2014 midterms and whether or not we’ll see a galvanizing moment around the leadership of the President and Senate Democrats.
As always, let us know what you think about this and other issues.
- The Good and Bad of the Immigration Reform Blueprint (cato.org)
- On Immigration, a Glimpse of the Devilish Details (nytimes.com)
- Arizona Immigration Law Feels Hand of the Supreme Court, but Key Part Cleared (article-3.com)
- Want More Jobs for Americans? Then Treat Highly Skilled Immigrants Better (article-3.com)