National Press Club

Panel Disagrees on Prospects for New Immigration Law

May 21, 2013 | By Lorna Aldrich | lorna2@verizon.net

Members of a panel on immigration disagreed on prospects for legislation in 2013 at a May 20 event co-sponsored by the Club’s International Correspondents Committee and International Center for Journalism.

Luis Miranda, former director of Hispanic media for President Barack Obama, said Congress would overhaul U.S. immigration laws. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, said Congress wouldn't act. Cindy Carcamo, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and Jeffrey S. Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center said they were uncertain.

About 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, Passel said. The number of people unlawfully entering the country has decreased in the past year.

The U.S. can discourage unlawful entry by requiring all employers to use E-Verify, which checks a potential employee's status with Social Security, immigration and other government data bases, instituting a system to track a visa holder's entry and exit, and strengthening border control, Krikorian said.

More robust use of E-Verify could “turn the magnet of jobs off,” he said.

With nearly 200 southern border crossings, 50 million northern border crossings and 50 million visas issued annually, such a system might be too complex to work, Passel said. Most of the border crossing arise from trade, tourism and commuting, he said.

The panel also disagreed on whether immigration benefits U.S. economy.

Miranda, who was brought to the U.S. as a child by parents who overstayed their visas, said immigrants assimilate and contribute over time, he said.

“By the second or third generation they are as American as anybody else,” Miranda said.

They also boost the U.S. economy by lowering the average age of the population while populations in other economically competitive nations are aging, he said.

Krikorian said immigrants, who tend to be young, low-income families, can detract from the economy by using government programs.