Central Coast

Dear Jon: Is it time for immigration reform?

Expert says comprehensive reform not needed in the short term

William Arrocha is an expert analyst for international studies and tells me it's not just time for immigration reform, it's overdue.

But he believes it won't happen in this election year.

Both political parties will look to be as moderate as they can heading into the November midterm elections. Why? To garner the most votes, and Arrocha says immigration reform is too politically sensitive.

At this time, Arrocha says, the political an legal solution to immigration reform is a long-term solution. But the social and economic solution can be a short-term solution. We'll get into that in a moment.

Border security in the context of immigration reform is the stickiest issue which will take time and is the most divisive issue in Congress.

There is a plan that's been passed in the Senate, but many feel it's too punitive to the immigrants already here illegally. And it could potentially divide families, which is not a popular solution among the Hispanic community.

The Republicans in the House have said they want to tackle immigration reform piece by piece as opposed to a comprehensive solution. Arrocha says that's not a bad idea.

That's where immigration reform sits right now.

So in the short term, is there anything that can be done to let some of the pressure off of the immigration system? Arrocha says yes.

He suggests increasing the number of H2-A visas for agricultural workers, H2-B visas for non agricultural workers and H1-B visas for specialty workers. If the government would allow this, says Arrocha, there would be no need for comprehensive reform right now, and it would lift the economic and social burden that exists right now.

The president does have the executive powers that would allow for this expansion of these visa programs.

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