Arizona has been the source of immigration contention for years. Representative Jeff Flake (R) and Senator McCain (R) have been at the center of many recent immigration reform proposals before the firestorm over the Legal Arizona Workers Act and SB 1070. From former governor and now head of DHS Janet Napolitano (D) to current governor Jan Brewer (R) and Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) of Maricopa County, Arizona is home to politicians who have made their careers in immigration.
It’s only fitting that now reform plans are coming from the state. Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, a non-partisan immigration reform group, came out with just such a plan yesterday called SANE. It is similar to past immigration enforcement proposals and includes the 4 legs of the stool common to all such plans:
1. Security increases on the border.
2. Account for unauthorized immigrants here through earned legalization.
3. Necessary increases in lawful immigration and work visas.
4. Employment sanctions and other reforms.
This is merely the first plan of the new season and I predict there will be many more that are similar. Border security is already at historic heights, unauthorized immigration at lows, and employer sanctions and workplace identification requirements like E-Verify have reduced the liberty of American workers without reducing the size of the informal labor economy. However, increasing lawful immigration and a large and flexible guest worker visa, depending on the details, will be the most important components of any reform that will greatly diminish unauthorized immigration going forward.