U-M professor: Immigration proposals could offer most significant reform in decades

January 31, 2013
Greta Guest


ANN ARBOR—President Obama and a group of bipartisan U.S. senators addressed immigration reform in ways that help both the high-tech and agriculture industries, says Ann Chih Lin, professor of political science and public policy at the University of Michigan.

“High-tech and agricultural workers have a fast track for permanent residence, but other immigrants deserve to be part of America too,” Lin said.

Lin praises the focus on citizenship as the most significant aspect of the current proposals.

“America has always embraced citizenship, and that makes this country stronger and more stable than other countries with substantial numbers of immigrants,” she said.

But real immigration reform will require a legal way to bring new immigrants to the U.S.

“Both President Obama and the senators’ have endorsed a ‘probationary legal status’ for currently undocumented immigrants who register with the government as the first step for coming out of the shadows,” Lin said.

Countries like Australia already have something like this, called a “provisional residence” status. It doesn’t have a specific endpoint, but is intended to result in either permanent residence or departure.

“If expanded to potential immigrants other than the currently undocumented, this kind of ‘probationary legal status’ could eventually become the most important reform in the immigration system since 1965,” she said.


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