In U.S. Immigration Debate, Specter Has It Right: Kevin Hassett

April 3 (Bloomberg) — Last week, the U.S. Senate began
considering major reforms of immigration and border-security
legislation, elevating a simmering issue into an explosive
national debate. Of all the proposals out there, only one has its
economics right.

Right now in the Senate, the two major plans being debated
are from Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Committee
Chairman Arlen Specter. Frist’s bill focuses primarily on border
protection, and has been characterized as an “enforcement only”
proposal. Specter’s proposal borrows from a bill that Senators
John McCain and Ted Kennedy introduced last year. It includes
provisions for temporary guest worker visas and for legalizing
the status of currently undocumented individuals.

Both bills exist because lawmakers and citizens are worried
about illegal immigration. The best estimates suggest about 12
million individuals reside in the U.S. illegally. Since
essentially anyone born in the U.S. has a right to citizenship,
many illegal immigrants have become parents of legal citizens,
and productive members of their communities. Accordingly, despite
the heat of the debate, any plan to round up existing illegals
and send them home is politically dead on arrival.

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