President Barack Obama recently announced a controversial plan to realign immigration enforcement priorities. Since he has been unable to get lawmakers to budge, the president will instead use administrative tools to defer deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants with American children or spouses and deep community ties—at least for as long as he is in office. The plan also involves concentrating resources on ejecting unauthorized immigrants with criminal records. Up to 5 million people who entered the country illegally—about half of the undocumented population—would likely qualify for relief under this plan.
Obama's plan utterly fails to address the underlying problems with the immigration system, yet it still may squelch any hope for comprehensive reform. That doesn't mean, however, that immigrant-friendly lawmakers should simply twiddle their thumbs. As Shikha Dalmia explains, they can pass a series of improvements that enjoy bipartisan support to start fixing the system as soon as the new Congress is in session. These include a guest worker program for low-skilled workers and deregulation of the high-skilled visa program.