Since the beginning of the year, the talk of immigration reform has almost reached a fever pitch. Mainly, because Democrats want to use it as a wedge issue in the run up to this Fall's elections. But, in the minds of most Americans, immigration reform is all about those Hispanics they read about who are entering our southern borders without papers, passports, or invitations.
The real fact is that anywhere from 40 to 45% of all illegals in this country came here as invited guests of our government and just never went back home. They came here on work and student visas and, even as tourists with valid passports and travel visas.
For this reason, I think any type of immigration reform must consider the fact that there are really several classes of illegals and each should be treated separately. In my opinion, someone overstaying their welcome is a less egregious wrong than someone who, from the very onset, was never invited and totally ignored our immigration laws. As such, they should have the least easy pathway to citizenship and should have to pay penalties for doing so.
Those who should have the easiest path to citizenship should be those who overstayed their work visas or green cards. They got here because our government felt they would be a valuable asset in that they would be able fill some of the experience-level or educational voids in our workforce. Most all are highly educated and experienced English-speaking professionals in valuable career fields like computer sciences, engineering, health care, medicine, and research.
Similarly, students who overstayed their educational visas are also valuable; especially if they completed their education. Like the group above, they are all English-literate; otherwise they would not have been able to pass the admissions tests. With some college or a degree, they have a low chance of being a drag on our economy by being unemployed.
The last group would be those who overstayed their tourist visas and those who came across our northern and southern borders. I agree with the many pro-immigration reformers who believe that, before any of them can be eligible for citizenship, they should be able to speak English, pay a fine or penalty for coming here illegally, and show proof of employment. Only then should they be allowed to go to the back of the line for legal immigration (ie. green card or work visas) with a possible pathway to citizenship.
10 Myths About Immigration: http://www.tolerance.org/immigration-myths
John Carter claim that 40 percent of nation's illegal residents came by plane and overstayed visas draws on 2006 estimate: http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2013/sep/06/john-carter/john-carter-claim-40-percent-nations-illegal-resid/