Remaking the U.S. Green Card System: Legal Immigration under the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013
The legal immigration system proposed under the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation would retain a strong emphasis on family unification while growing skills-based immigration more than fourfold, contrary to the perception that a new focus on employment-based immigration would come at the expense of family-based immigration. This issue brief examines how the Senate bill would reshape the legal immigration system through its admission policies, creation of a new merit-based visa stream and points-based system, and re-ordering of the balance between permanent and temporary visa programs. It also offers some estimates of future flows, where they can be determined.
The brief finds that the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act employs lessons learned from the United States and abroad to address some of the most prominent shortcomings of the current immigration system. In addition to having a positive impact on reducing backlogs and wait times, the proposed law would offer foreign workers increased flexibility in moving between employers and in applying for permanent resident status. The proposal also significantly expands options for low- and middle-skilled foreign workers to seek year-round, longer-term positions, which the authors underscore, would discourage illegal immigration. In the long run, the authors suggest, the proposed Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research would be crucial to understanding and adapting to the unexpected, and at times, unintended changes that this major reform would inevitably produce.
I. Introduction: How Would Permanent Immigration Change Under S.744?
II. Estimating Future Flows