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Immigration reform is about more than a pathway to citizenship

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement in favor of immigration reform. While he appears to be most concerned with immigrants outside of the legal immigration system, immigration reform is about more than just creating a pathway to citizenship for these people. There are a number of people in Reading who are on student visas that will expire shortly after they graduate; many of them would like to see a method of granting them an employment-based immigration visa.

There have been numerous news stories over the past several months that have critiqued the U.S. immigration system for the way it deals with American-trained foreign graduate students specializing in high-demand subjects, like science, math, technology and engineering. Unlike many other countries, the U.S. does not actively recruit these bright minds and try to incorporate them into our society and economy.

Part of the immigration reform discussion is about how to ease the process of getting these immigrants to stay in the country. Obviously, there needs to be an easier method of switching a student visa to an employment-based visa, whether a temporary, nonimmigration visa or an outright immigration visa and green card. Making graduates leave the country to apply for a new visa and then wait for the visa to be granted is not much of an incentive to remain.

This is not to say that the issues surrounding immigration reform as it relates to immigrants without legal status are not important. They are important, but so are these questions of how best to reform our employment-based immigration system, too.

Source: FOX News, “U.S. Catholic bishops call for immigration reform,” June 5, 2014

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