A large majority of the American people agree that the current immigration system does not work. According to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center and BPC Action, 'The New Middle on Immigration Reform,' President Donald Trump’s demand for better border security resonates with Americans whose sentiments do not align with the Washington consensus among members of Congress and immigration advocates. 

According to the report by the bipartisan BPC, “the consensus set of immigration policies that Americans support is more to the right than many realize. Large majorities of American voters want the federal government to tackle immigration reform in a way that creates a controlled legal immigration system that is both fair and consistent, while prioritizing the characteristics of prospective immigrants. Reform efforts will need to include strong support for enforcement, a merit-based system that emphasizes an individual’s work-ethic and language capability in addition to family relationships or skills, and a path to legal status for the undocumented.”

Among the findings of the report:

Americans want the president and Democrats to reach a compromise over immigration rather than leave immigration for the states to resolve. 

Americans agree with President Trump on building a border wall and that barriers, technology and personnel are critical to border security. 

Americans believe that illegal aliens should have a discernible path to legal status, it should not be “free free.”

Americans’ concerns were highest over immigrants competing with citizens over government benefits, and lower over competition for jobs.

Almost two-thirds of Americans believe it is extremely important or very important for immigrants to carry at least a basic conversation in English, but only 11 percent believe immigrants should be fluent.

Voters define merit broadly in an immigration system, suggesting that the United States should admit people who share its values, abide by the law, have family members here, and can meet job vacancies, whether high-or low-skilled.

The BPC report was based on a survey and a series of discussions with state and local officials across the country over the course of a year. Its findings, BPC said, are a new middle but considerable further to the right than proposals circulating in Washington D.C. “This new middle on immigration rests on a comprehensive solution: a controlled system with clear criteria for admission, that combines strong enforcement with a path to legal status for those currently in the United States illegally. If we want to reach a viable solution, legislators will need to craft a new blueprint that addresses these policy priorities,” said BPC director of immigration and cross-border policy Theresa Cardinal Brown, according to the Washington Examiner. 
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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