No immigration bill will pass this year, but Senators Robert Menendez and Patrick Leahy have introduced S. 3932, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 It is not on Thomas yet, but here is a preliminary copy of the 874 page behemoth along with a handy summary.
The bill provides a good starting point. Among many other things, it has a temporary worker program, including a new category of temporary worker, that both protects their rights and remains flexible according to the U.S. labor market; it has extensive enforcement; it ensures immigration policy remains a federal prerogative; and it offers a rigorous pathway to legality for those currently in the U.S. illegally.
What also struck me, though, was a focus on U.S.-Latin American relations, which means a welcome recognition that we cannot pretend to live in a vacuum. Tucked into the second to last section is the following:
STRATEGY ADDRESS FACTORS DRIVING IMMIGRATION.—The Secretary of State, working with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall subsequently submit to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, a strategy which responds to the identified economic, social and security factors driving high rates of irregular migration from the prioritized countries identified. The strategy should incorporate consultation with the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State, the Department of Labor, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
And then make specific recommendations:
Recommendations for future United States Government assistance and technical support to address key economic, social and development factors identified in the prioritized migration source countries. Such assistance should be designed to ensure appropriate engagement of national and local governments and civil society organizations.
Good. Of course, knowing what drives immigration does not necessarily mean you can come up with programs to slow it down. However, a full understanding of those "push" factors is critical for making immigration reform work properly. Working with Latin American governments, even at the local level, should be part of any reform bill.