Immigration reform should focus on green cards, not citizenship

A major source of contention for Republicans and Democrats when discussing immigration reform is how best to provide undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship. Those opposed to immigration reform want to avoid “rewarding” those individuals who entered the country without permission by giving them citizenship. Advocates for immigrants’ rights are fighting to include all immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, in the naturalization process.

Many people on both political sides believe more focus should be placed on permanent resident cards, known as green cards. Supporters of economic growth due to immigration reform argue that allowing more immigrants to work in the U.S. will boost the economy and strengthen America’s presence in the global market. The majority of immigrants came to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves and their families. To do that they need to secure a green card so they can work legally.

Currently there are only a handful of ways to get a green card. One way is to be the spouse of a current U.S. citizen. Another option for immigrants to receive a green card is through the diversity lottery, in which random green cards are given to individuals from countries that do not otherwise send many people to the U.S. A third way to secure a green card is through an employer sponsorship, but these 140,000 annual spots are only available to very highly skilled applicants who have an employer that is willing to pay up to $35,000 in government and legal fees.

Advocates for immigrant workers believe the restrictions on naturalization should be greater than those placed on the process for receiving a green card so more people can come work in the U.S.