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Letter: Immigration reform hasn’t kept pace

To the editor,     

We are a nation of immigrants. Immigration reform has failed to keep pace with the changing needs of our economy. Congressman Kline and his colleagues have ignored this issue far too long and need to take immediate action to correct our broken immigration process.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the Senate immigration reform bill will increase real GDP by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 5.4 percent in 2033 – an increase of roughly $700 billion in 2023 and $1.4 trillion in 2033 in today’s dollars. A larger labor force; higher productivity and investment; and stronger technology, tourism, hospitality, agriculture, and housing industries are just some of the key ways that immigration reform strengthens the U.S. economy. 

As residents of a border state, Minnesotans also recognize that deficiencies in national border security are also a critical element of national security.  Legislation focused solely on border security is only addressing half the issue.   

We must also consider the social cost of families divided by complex and costly immigration law that often fails to provide an important path to legal residency or U.S. Citizenship.  Millions of undocumented men, women, and children living in the U.S. are hard-working contributors to their communities, yet lack the legal rights to pursue better opportunities.

Current enforcement methods utilizing I9 audits tend to place an unfair burden on honest companies and honest hard working people while unscrupulous employers exploit the vulnerable status of undocumented workers.    Bringing illegal workers out of the shadows will ferret out employers who take advantage of the system by paying less than subsistence wages to desperate immigrants. This will help raise the wages of all workers, foreign born or not.

The House lost an important opportunity to enact immigration reform during the last session. Therefore, the time is now to make a difference. Minnesotans need to rally behind the efforts of our elected representatives to make reform a reality this year.

Editor’s note:Paula Overby is running against Kline in the Second Congressional District in 2014.