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  • I think the only thing that people in the United

  • States and politicians can agree about on

  • immigration is that the system is broken.

  • I think it's gotten more broken, if that's

  • possible, in the 30 years that I've been working on

  • the issue.

  • 2023 saw record-breaking numbers of migrant

  • crossings at the southwestern border, with

  • Border Patrol reporting nearly 250,000 encounters

  • in December alone.

  • They're poisoning the blood of our country.

  • That's what they've done.

  • I will not demonize immigrants saying they are

  • poisoned in the blood of our country.

  • The migration that we're seeing happening at the

  • border right now is unsustainable. We are not

  • managing it, and it is overwhelming our existing

  • immigration systems.

  • There's broad consensus that it needs to be fixed.

  • They just can't agree on what that way might be and

  • how to think about that question.

  • So why is the immigration system in the U.S.

  • so broken and can it ever be fixed?

  • When people say that the immigration system is

  • broken, they mean different things.

  • If you're on the left, you typically mean that

  • the system does not accommodate as many people

  • as you would like to be able to come here legally.

  • And when people use it from the conservative

  • side, they mean that the system allows in far too

  • many people who should not be here under any

  • definition of the law.

  • The U.S. has more foreign born residents than any

  • other country, with immigrants accounting for

  • about 13.7% of the entire population.

  • But today, less than 1% of those looking to reside

  • permanently in the U.S.

  • can do so legally.

  • We often hear, 'my grandparents came to the

  • country illegally. Why can't people come

  • illegally to the country now? And the fact is, when

  • the grandparents came to the country is much more

  • possible, especially for European immigrants.

  • But there's no line to stand in anymore.

  • In general, there are four pathways to obtaining

  • legal immigration: the diversity lottery, refugee

  • program, family sponsorship, and

  • employment-based sponsorships. Just 0.2% of

  • applicants for the diversity lottery end up

  • with a green card.

  • Incoming refugees face even more daunting odds,

  • having less than a 0.1% chance of being selected

  • for resettlement.

  • Meanwhile, family-sponsored

  • immigrants are capped at just 226,000 every fiscal

  • year. That has led to about 8.3 million

  • relatives of citizens and legal residents waiting

  • for a family-sponsored visa in 2022.

  • I don't know if it's a problem to let in a lot of

  • people based on family relationships. That's a

  • strong value of the United States and our

  • immigration system, and a long standing value that

  • family reunification is important.

  • At the same time, it does seem like we haven't

  • accommodated the level of employment-based

  • immigration that would benefit our country and

  • our economy.

  • Almost all employment-based green

  • cards require a sponsorship from an

  • employer, but just one out of every 1,500 new

  • hires in the U.S. receive a green card this way.

  • I think the limitations that were last updated,

  • the numbers of annual immigrants, was last

  • updated in 1990, when our population was smaller,

  • when the kinds of work that we did in this

  • country was different.

  • A big issue is the mismatch between the

  • current policies and the actual needs of the

  • workforce.

  • Most other developed nations in the world have

  • a much higher percentage of their immigration

  • system based on economics. Somebody who's

  • coming for an economic purpose to their country

  • than we do.

  • For instance, Canada granted permanent

  • residency to 255,680 economic immigrants,

  • compared to just 97,355 sponsored family members

  • in 2022.

  • What I would like to see are reforms to make the

  • majority of people who come here legally as

  • immigrants come because our economy needs them,

  • come to do jobs that our economy wants.

  • Some of this is not just a question of categories,

  • but a question of the administrative delays and

  • costs.

  • The system is under-resourced, so

  • employers who want to sponsor a worker have to

  • go through multiple steps.

  • Some of those steps are quite repetitive.

  • And then the agencies that have to look at those

  • applications, the Department of Labor, U.S.

  • Citizenship and Immigration Services, the

  • State Department, they all take their time to

  • process applications because they either

  • haven't found the efficiencies or don't have

  • enough staff.

  • Border control challenges are another indicator of a

  • broken system.

  • If your goal is that every person should be allowed

  • to come here, you will never meet that goal.

  • The demand is in the hundreds of millions, if

  • not billions, and the supply is simply not that

  • high. There's nothing we could do to so-called fix

  • the system so that it could accommodate 10, 20,

  • 50 million people a year into the United States.

  • In 2023, encounters at the southwest border saw a

  • more than 100% increase compared to 2019.

  • I think we saw so many migrants at the border

  • last year for a variety of reasons.

  • One is that our economy is really strong.

  • A lot of employers are looking for workers.

  • When the U.S. economy is booming, we know that

  • immigration tends to be higher.

  • Complementing that is all of the many, many push

  • factors all around the world.

  • We're seeing a lot of migrants coming from

  • countries like Venezuela and Cuba and Nicaragua

  • with repressive governments and really

  • failed economies.

  • We're also seeing a lot of migration from parts of

  • Mexico that have a lot of gang violence.

  • I think there's also a perception that it's a

  • good time to come, that it's fairly easy to come

  • into the United States.

  • In the past, Democrats and Republicans both disagreed

  • about what the law should be, but they agreed that

  • it should be enforced.

  • The Biden administration essentially decided they

  • would not enforce the law, and they released the

  • majority of people that were encountered illegally

  • crossing into the country. They created

  • parole programs to bring in hundreds of thousands

  • more. And the word got out.

  • Parole refers to policies that allow certain

  • noncitizens to enter or temporarily remain in the

  • U.S., usually for urgent humanitarian or

  • significant public benefit reasons.

  • The Department of Homeland Security told

  • CNBC that working within the constraints of

  • outdated immigration laws, the administration

  • has implemented an approach that combines the

  • largest expansion of lawful pathways in years,

  • with significantly strengthened consequences

  • for those who cross unlawfully. And for

  • decades, Republican and Democratic administrations

  • alike have used parole authority on a

  • case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian

  • reasons or significant public benefit.

  • The number of paroled migrants increased by

  • nearly four fold between fiscal year 2019 and 2022.

  • That number has more than doubled again in the first

  • ten months of fiscal year 2023, to about 301,000

  • paroled migrants.

  • In 2024, the Committee on Oversight and

  • Accountability also reported that Border

  • Patrol had caught and released over 75% of

  • undocumented migrants encountered in December

  • 2023, the same month that set a new monthly record

  • of migrant crossings.

  • Parole has been part of our immigration system

  • since the 1950s.

  • It has been used by every president since Eisenhower

  • to bring groups of people who otherwise wouldn't be

  • able to come to the United States.

  • It was a loophole created just, you know, in case,

  • just for emergencies.