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Groups speak out on need for immigration reform

When President Obama was elected to his second term, he made it clear that passing comprehensive reforms to our country’s immigration system was a top priority. With recent disagreements about fiscal matters in the House and Senate, many experts are concerned that any attempt to come to an agreement about immigration reform will be unsuccessful. Unfortunately, if reform efforts are unsuccessful, those with family immigration issues are likely to experience the greatest amount of frustration.

Recently, groups in favor of immigration reform gathered at the Rally for Immigrant Dignity and Respect, which was held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Those at the rally, including several members of the House of Representatives, called for Congress to pass legislation that would both modernize the U.S. immigration system and include a path to citizenship.

One of the primary themes throughout the rally was the importance of family and the ways in which the current immigration system makes it difficult to keep spouses and children together. Too often, current law acts to separate U.S. born children from their foreign born parents. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, approximately 200,000 parents of children who were born in the U.S. were deported. Currently, about 5,000 children whose parents were deported are living in foster homes in the U.S. According to some estimates, if the current rate of deportations holds steady, that number will increase to around 15,000 by 2016.

Not only is this current system unfair, it is also expensive. Each year, the U.S. spends tens of billions of dollars enforcing immigration rules that simply do not work. If Congress were to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, it could both help to keep families together and save the federal government a significant amount of money each year.

Many believe that the window for passing reforms is rapidly closing. With mid-term elections scheduled for 2014, political gridlock could make it more difficult for any significant legislation to pass. Nevertheless, some are optimistic that the Republican controlled House will begin debating proposed immigration bills sometime in November of this year. The Democrat controlled Senate already passed an immigration reform bill earlier this summer, which included the creation of a path to citizenship and new spending on border security. Whether there is simply too much distrust between Republicans and Democrats to pass any sort of comprehensive reform remains to be seen, but it is clear that action is needed.