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Immigration Reform: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
January 29, 2013

Following the unveiling of a new immigration plan by a bipartisan group of senators and its subsequent embrace by President Barack Obama, CFR's Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow Edward Alden offers three reasons why the time may be ripe for a U.S. immigration overhaul:

  • Reduced U.S. allure: In the past, immigration reform efforts had failed largely due to fears that amnesty to undocumented immigrants "would be followed with still higher levels of illegal immigration," Alden explains. This is unlikely to happen today because of increased border security and improving economic conditions in Mexico, which have "reduced the allure of the United States," he says.
  • Improved U.S. enforcement: Efforts to ensure that employers only hire those authorized to work in the United States have become more effective, Alden says. "This would do more than any other enforcement measure to turn off the magnet that attracts people to come here illegally," he argues.
  • Economic costs of current policy: Current immigration policy is associated with substantial economic costs to the United States, Alden says, and "a more flexible immigration system that responds to labor market demands could give a huge boost to the U.S. economy."

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