Tuesday, May 16, 2006


According to a new report from the Heritage Foundation:

“If enacted, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S.2611) would be the most dramatic change in immigration law in 80 years, allowing an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years—fully one-third of the current population of the United States.”

Dangerous Growth of U.S. Immigration

A Flood of Legal Immigrants

Under CIRA, immigrants could enter the country or attain lawful status within the country through eight channels. In each channel, immigrants would be granted permanent residence and the right to become citizens. The first channel represents immigrants who would have entered under current law; the second channel represents illegal immigrants who are currently in the country and would be given legal permanent residence under the bill. The other six channels represent new inflows of legal immigrants that would occur as a result of the bill. The total number of new legal immigrants over a twenty year period would be as follows: (See Charts 1 and 2.)

1. Visas under current law: Roughly 950,000 persons receive permanent residence visas under current law each year. Over 20 years, the inflow of immigrants through this channel would be 19 million. This represents the status quo under existing law.

2. Amnesty: The bill would grant amnesty to roughly 10 million illegal immigrants. These individuals are currently living in the U.S.; amnesty would allow them to remain legally and to become U.S. citizens.

3. Expanded family chain migration: The number of family-sponsored visas for secondary family members, such as adult brothers and sisters, is currently limited to 480,000 per year minus the number of visas given to immediate family members (spouses, minor children, and parents of U.S. citizens). The bill changes the law so that the total quota on secondary family members would be 480,000 without deductions for immediate family members. The net increase in the number of immigrants under this provision would be around 254,000 per year, or 5.1 million over 20 years.[14]

4. Employment-based green cards: The bill would increase the number of employment-based visas from 140,000 to 450,000 per year. For the first time, it would also exempt the spouses and children of workers from the cap. Total annual immigration under this provision is likely to be 450,000 workers plus 540,000 family members annually. The net increase above current law over 20 years would be around 13.5 million persons.[15]

5. The guest worker (H-2C) program: CIRA would allow 325,000 persons to participate in the guest worker program in the first year. This number could rise by 65,000 in the next year and then by 20 percent per year. Assuming 10 percent annual growth in the annual number of guest workers entering the country (well below the bill’s maximum), the total inflow of workers under this program would be 20 million over 20 years.

6. Spouses and children of guest workers: Guest workers could bring their spouses and children to the U.S. as permanent residents; the added number of entrants would be 24 million over 20 years.

7. Spouses and children of illegal immigrants given amnesty: Illegal immigrants who received amnesty could bring their spouses and children into the U.S. as legal permanent residents with the opportunity for full citizenship. The number of spouses and children who would enter the U.S. as a result of amnesty would be at least six million.

8. Parents of naturalized citizens. The bill would substantially increase the number of naturalized citizens. Naturalized citizens would have an unlimited right to bring their parents into the U.S. as legal permanent residents. Over twenty years, the number of parents who would enter the U.S. as permanent legal residents as a result of CIRA would be around five million.

“Overall, the bill would allow some 103 million persons to legally immigrate over the next twenty years. This is roughly one-third of the current population of the United States. All of these new entrants would be permanent residents and would have the right to become citizens. This would be a 84 million person net increase over current law.”


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