Now that the door has been opened politically to negotiate immigration reform, it is time to clarify which should be the guiding principles for the much-needed change to the way the United States handles its immigration policy. This is no longer about partial or piecemeal reformalthough for the past 20 years, the emphasis has been almost exclusively on the borders and an increasingly strict enforcement of laws against undocumented immigrants. We believe that any immigration reform must have three essential principles. First, legalize millions of productive, honest immigrants who have lived in the shadows, many of them for 10, 15 or 20 years. Second, create an immigration system that stimulates and reinforces the U.S. economy, providing opportunities for legal immigration for the talent and the workers the economy needs and will need in the future. Finally, consolidate border protection, which has made so much progress in recent years and will improve even more when incentives to immigrate outside the law cease to exist.
In the weeks since the election, there has been much talk about how the Republicans will now be willing to negotiate an immigration reform. Some ideas have already been presented, like legalization for the Dreamers without a path to citizenship and visas for technical professionals in exchange for eliminating the visa lottery. It is good for ideas to be presented. But what our country needs is comprehensive reform and an immigration policy that responds to our principles and our future economic needs.