On January 21, 2021, the Democrats will control Congress under Joe Biden. With Kamala Harris able to break ties at the Senate, the Democrats no longer have an excuse as to why substantial immigration reform cannot happen. If immigration reform does not become a serious part of the Biden agenda for his first year in office, then immigration reform will not happen under the Biden administration.
There are two obvious agenda items that must take precedence for the Biden administration – controlling the Coronavirus and fixing the economic chaos caused by the pandemic. These will consume the Biden administration during the first six to eight months of his administration.
But those agenda items must coexist with immigration reform.
First and foremost, immigrants not only help the American economy but have continued to work the fields and provide the services Americans need during the pandemic, even at the expense of their health. Many of those immigrants are undocumented. The pandemic has caused serious damage to the American economy, but the immigrants helped to keep grocery shelfs stocked and provided health services to Americans in need.
Immigrant labor helps the American economy.
According to a Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 report, in 2019 there were 28.4 million immigrants in the American workforce. They account for 17.4% of the labor force. Almost half of the foreign-born labor force (47.6%) are Hispanics.
The jobs that immigrants hold in America are important to the economy.
America has a low birth rate. America’s population is aging. Foreign-born workers support the American aging population.
There are those that will argue that now is not the time for immigration reform. That Americans must have access to jobs before immigrants, they will implore.
That argument betrays an outdated nativist view of the American labor force. It ignores the substantial evidence that suggests that the foreign labor force bolsters the American economy.
The Biden Administration should focus on the resolving the Covid-19 emergency and fixing the American economy. To do so, it needs immigrants to help.
Without the resistance by the Republicans, the Democrats can prove once and for all that they are friendly to immigrants.
What Does Immigration Reform Look Like?
Although resolving the ambiguity of the Dreamers is important and easily fixed with a Democratic-controlled government that solution is only the start. Eradicating Trump’s draconian immigration policies is a good second step.
But a true immigration reform package recognizes that America needs immigrant workers.
Immigration reform must include work permits for immigrants willing to come to America to help fix the economy. Immigration reform should recognize the contribution of all immigrants.
If Democrats truly value immigrants, they will prove it by enacting a substantial immigration reform package.