By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Government must establish “architecture” for providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, while balancing the influx with increased regulatory measures, a report released Wednesday by the University of Denver states.
A 20-member bipartisan Strategic Issues panel of business and government leaders heard from experts on both sides of the immigration aisle in determining 25 recommendations for comprehensive immigrations reform. The report issued Wednesday comes as Congress prepares for what is sure to be a heated battle in Washington over immigration policy.
The White House has signaled its support for the effort, calling for an approach that provides a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, while including tougher enforcement policies, including a crackdown on employers who hire undocumented workers, as well as a streamlined system for legal immigration.
The University of Denver report mirrors much of the Administration’s approach, calling for heightened border security, a crackdown on employers, a national identification card, support for a common language, a streamlined plan for dealing with illegal immigrants, a process for temporary workers, and family unification.
“Achieving these benefits requires more than simply adding new legislative patches to a sagging and inefficient system,” concludes the report. “It requires an overall architecture for immigration policy, grounded in a shared purpose with clear goals, priorities, and governmental roles and responsibilities.”
Despite the report calling for requiring employers to use a federal database to verify the legal residential status of potential hires — a system known as E-Verify — former Congressman Tom Tancredo Wednesday blasted the DU report, calling it “flawed” and “delusional.”
“It is delusional to think any of these good ideas would survive the disastrous effects of another amnesty,” said the Littleton Republican, who is pushing a 2010 ballot initiative that would require the state Legislature to mandate that employers use the E-Verify system. “To say we should accommodate the 15-20 million illegal aliens by offering a new amnesty makes no sense because it rewards unlawful behavior and provides an incentive for another 15 million coming across our still-open borders.”
In providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the report calls for a simplified visa system, in which eight broad categories would be established, including visitor, student, temporary, convertible, family, provisional, representative and refugee. A maximum numeric limit for each category would be established, which would be managed by an independent commission created by Congress.
The report also calls for a national identification card system to be used by all employers along with E-Verify, as well as funding for English-learner training courses.
Once a system for verifying legal status is established, a simplified visa system is created and sound policy is in place for managing the reform and the influx of residents, the report recommends allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for provisional legal status, and then permanent status.
In the meantime, the report calls for limiting public benefits for undocumented immigrants, while increasing the number of employment-based visas.
Immigrant rights advocates — though they don’t support all aspects of the panel’s recommendations, including E-Verify — hailed the report as being a positive step toward analyzing how to enact reform on a national level.
“We are encouraged by the panel’s conclusion that any successful reform must include opportunities for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to legalize their status,” said the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition in a statement. “Moreover, CIRC agrees with the panel’s suggestions to support critical immigrant integration services, such as English language classes.”
In justifying the need for comprehensive reform, James R. Griesemer, chair of the Strategic Issues Panel on Immigration, said the issue comes down to boosting the nation’s economic position, while increasing national security.
“Solving the dilemma of immigration policy is a task of some urgency and considerable gravity,” writes Griesemer in the report. “Immigration affects our national security, shapes the fabric of our society and impacts our economic future. Few topics are more consequential — and few have been more resistant to resolution.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters