Reformers are delighted that the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration reform proposal includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, but there are a lot of unresolved and interesting questions about how the process would actually work. And it raises an important point.
In the political sphere, we talk a lot about immigration reform when what we really mean is “illegal immigration reform.” But the fact is the system for legal immigration needs reforming, too, as almost anyone who has gone through it will tell you. So if we funnel illegal immigrants into the legal immigration system as a way to get legit, we’re compounding the existing strains on the system as well as sending them down a path that has a host of problems and uncertainties of its own.
It’s too early to say that’s what the Senate plan would do, but it’s a big question that reformers have.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.