eventually, citizenship. Among the plethora of issues that have been under debate in Congress, some of the recurring questions are the following: whether to create a separate guest worker program for agricultural workers and another for nonagricultural workers, or whether to include both groups in the same program; whether to include a legalization or earned adjustment program that would lead to legal permanent residency in the United States; whether current procedures for labor certification should be retained to protect job opportunities for U.S. workers, or whether a more streamlined process should be created? The resolution of these various questions will require further debate and a willingness to compromise in the interest of legislation that can meaningfully control the employment magnet with workable verification systems and meaningful enforcement, while rationally addressing the existing illegally-resident population and the admission of future workers. While comprehensive reform that addresses all of these issues simultaneously would be in the best interest of the country, the politics of immigration argue against such action.
THE STATE OF PLAY IN POLICY AND PRACTICE
Historically the US has enacted policies unilaterally. Congress, in particular, is very jealous of its prerogatives in this area, to the extent of voicing its opposition to the Administration including the migration related provisions in more recent trade agreements, even after allowing them in NAFTA and other agreements. At the same time, the U.S. engages in active bilateral consultations and has been supportive of regional consultations. These bilateral and regional consultative processes can result in better and cooperative management of migration, as well as opening the way for negotiations on how the U.S. might cooperate in managing movements.
Discord over Needed Reforms. While almost all observers acknowledge the need for reform of the U.S. immigration system, and this administration has firmly backed such reform, the Congress has been unable to marshal enough votes to push reform through. The U.S. public remains ambivalent about accepting more immigrants even while being generally sanguine about any ill effects of migration: only about one-third believe immigrants harm the economy and just one-fifth have any concerns about immigrant-
B. Lindsay Lowell and Susan F. Martin (March 2008)