Immigration reform debate to continue in 2014 - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Immigration reform debate to continue in 2014

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WASHINGTON D.C. (01/03/14) – 2013 was the year that wasn't for immigration reform in Washington. Even though hundreds of people rallied all across the country to gain support, and the Senate passed its version of a bill. The House, however, never took up the issue.

"(The bill) included the most controversial part which is an amnesty," said Derrick Morgan, Vice President for Domestic and Economic Policy at the Heritage Foundation. "We think it's unfair, costly and won't work so I think ultimately, that's what undid it in the house."

Morgan says in order for Congress to pass Immigration Reform, the Senate's bill needs to change.

"I think most people here in Washington realize there is a lot broken in the immigration system and a federal solution would be good for some of those," Morgan said. "The key is how you do it and we think it would be much better to do a piece by piece approach that leaves the more difficult issues for later."

Democrats and the Obama Administration favor a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Republicans favor a piece-by-piece approach instead of a huge overhaul. But one thing the parties do agree on, is immigration reform is necessary.

"It's all about finding a middle ground and a compromise between democrats on one hand who are just interested in legalization and amnesty, and republicans who are a little more skeptical of that but are supportive of increasing immigration going forward," said Alex Nowrasteh, the Immigration Policy Expert at the Cato Institute.

Nowrasteh said it wasn't just differing opinions that side-tracked immigration reform in 2013. The conflict in Syria, the government shut down, and the budget talks all got in the way. Looking ahead to 2014, he says Congress should make one part of immigration reform its top priority.

"The number one thing we need to do is figure out a way for future immigrants to come here lawfully and work legally in the U.S.," Nowrasteh said. "That is the main driver of illegal immigration to the US is it's difficult to nearly impossible for low-skilled workers to come here lawfully and work."

Both experts say immigration is necessary for the country to thrive, so the debate over reform is expected to continue throughout the year.

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