Monday, December 20, 2010
Immigrant legalization, while highly controversial on both sides of the Atlantic, is a critical and widely used tool for managing illegal immigration. Lawmakers seeking to design effective legalization regimes must balance competing goals: inclusiveness versus avoidance of rewarding illegal behavior, and assuring a high rate of participation without admitting ineligible migrants or encouraging future illegal migration. In a new report out today, Immigrant Legalization in the United States and European Union: Policy Goals and Program Design, Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Senior Policy Analyst Marc Rosenblum examines the legalization debate and discusses policy parameters that characterize legalization programs, such as qualifications, requirements, benefits, and program design and implementation. This report is the third in an MPI series on how to shape and administer a legalization program, with the intent of providing solutions for some of the most important issues that policymakers in Congress and the administration would eventually need to consider in designing and implementing effective legislation. The first, Structuring and Implementing an Immigrant Legalization Program: Registration as the First Step, argues that an essential first step to any legalization should be a registration process that rapidly identifies, screens, and processes potential applicants -- both to enhance public safety and national security while also allowing qualified applicants to live and work legally in the United States as they attempt to earn lawful permanent resident status and to integrate into society. The second, More than IRCA: US Legalization Programs and the Current Policy Debate, provides an historical overview and yearly data on US legalization programs since the 1920s, a discussion of the current debate over the nation's estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants, and a primer on the statutory language used to describe the differing types of legalization programs. Additional papers in the series will analyze how various unauthorized populations would fare under differing legislative scenarios and legal issues in structuring successful legislation.. The legalization series and other MPI research on US immigration policy can be found here.