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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Critical Issues in the U.S. Legal Immigration Reform Debate

  • Author(s): Papademetriou, Demetrios G.
  • et al.

The current key issue in the U.S.immigration policy arena is the continuing review of legal permanent immigration. As in the past, the legal immigration reform initiative in the 10lst Congress has come from the Senate where Senators Kennedy and Simpson introduced, and were successful in having passed, S. 358, a bill almost identical to the one that failed in the last Congress. The bill would create two separate immigration tracks, one for families (the "family connection" track) and one for labor market-bound im-migrants (the independent immigrant track), while setting a worldwide immigration ceiling of 630,000. This figure is about 130,000 higher than total legal immigration to the U.S. for fiscal year 1988.

This paper addresses the process of U.S. legal permanent immigration reform by focusing on the four major perceived problem areas of the current immigrant selection system: (i) ethnic diversity; (ii) immigration levels: (iii) family immigration and visa backlogs;and (iv) responsiveness to labor market conditions. It also offers some preliminary descriptive data on the recent U.S. legalization programs.

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