There has been no attempt at long-term, bi-partisan immigration legislation
since the gang of eight introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013
to end our governments inconsistent, disingenuous and insincere
enforcement of our immigration laws —
threatening deportation one minute,
offering free health care and education the next.


Our country is long overdue for Immigration reform.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, made it illegal to hire or recruit illegal immigrants. No legal way for low-skilled workers wishing to enter the United States was provided. Twelve million undocumented workers came  across the U.S. border illegally. It was estimated that this illegal workforce made up about five percent of the U.S. workforce.

Former Mexican president Vicente Fox wrote that, in 2001, President George W. Bush and the leadership of both parties of Congress were ready to pass significant immigration reform legislation benefiting Mexican emigration to the U.S. The immigration reform which Bush and Fox hoped for was put on hold after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, and in 2006 the U.S. Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. Neither bill became law because their differences could not be reconciled in conference committee.

The legislative negotiations and national activism behind immigration reform from 2001 to 2007 is the subject of the 12-part documentary film series How Democracy Works Now. You can find it on Netflix.

In 2009, immigration reform became a hot topic again since the Barack Obama administration signaled interest in beginning a discussion on comprehensive immigration reform before that year’s end.[13][14] The proposed comprehensive immigration reform plan had bipartisan support as one of its goals, and included six sections designed to have “something for everyone”.

These six sections were:
1. to fix border enforcement,
2. “interior enforcement”, such as preventing visa overstays,
3. preventing people from working without a work permit,
4. creating a committee to adapt the number of visas available to changing economic times,
5. a program to provide a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, and
6. programs to help immigrants adjust to life in the United States.

Comprehensive immigration reform, a policy concept that first gained currency in 2001 in the U.S. political world, would marry increased border enforcement with legalization for unauthorized immigrants and the ability to bring in future workers needed by the U.S. labor market. Debated in the U.S. Senate in 2006, 2007, and 2013, comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) would touch virtually every facet of the U.S. immigration system.  From 

State leaders and our national congressional delegations are urged to adopt these six principles of the Iowa Compact on Immigration to guide the immigration discussion.

1. FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY: Immigration policy is a federal issue between the U.S. government and other countries. We urge our Iowa congressional delegation to work to enact immigration policy at the federal level that improves our immigration system, keeps our communities safe, and protects our borders.

2. STRENGTHENING OUR ECONOMY & WORKFORCE: For our state economy to grow and compete, Iowa needs a robust workforce and policies that prioritize attracting and retaining international talent. Our immigration system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses while protecting the interests of workers. This includes a visa system that is both responsive to and effective at meeting the demands of our economy and the industries that drive growth in our state.

3. A COMMON-SENSE APPROACH: Immigrants have always been and remain an important part of our communities across Iowa. We must adopt a common-sense approach to immigration that reflects our long-established values and recognizes the critical role immigration has played in both our state’s, as well as our nation’s history and economy. Our immigration policies must provide a sensible path forward for immigrants wishing to come to our country and a permanent resolution for those who are of good character, pay taxes, and are committed to becoming fully participating members of our society and culture, but lack legal status.

4. EFFECTIVE ENFORCEMENT: We support a law enforcement strategy that focuses on public safety, targets serious crime, and safeguards witnesses and victims. We further urge a reasonable and predictable regulatory environment that considers the interests of, and unintended consequences to businesses, the workforce, and consumers. Furthermore, the broader reform effort should eventually include a way to accurately, reliably, and affordably determine who is permitted to work, ensuring an adequate workforce for a growing economy.

5. FAMILY: Strong families are critical to developing successful individuals and cohesive communities. Our immigration policies, where possible, should prioritize keeping families together in order to ensure the most supportive home environments for all children across our state.

6. COMPETITIVE COMMUNITIES: We recognize that the communities that are able to attract a competitive workforce will continue to grow and those communities are generally the ones who embrace and welcome new citizens. We support local policies that create an environment that ensures that all residents have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. 

Please join this conversation.