By Senator Lena C. Taylor
According to Fortune.com, the United States added 1.6 million people. Two-thirds of which came from international migration, bringing the nation’s population total to 334.9 million. Further, in December 2023, it is estimated that nearly 300,000 migrants were processed at the U.S. and Mexico border. And we’ve all seen the staggering numbers of people entering the country illegally each month. Yet, to simply say we’ve got an immigration problem doesn’t capture all the nuance problems associated with this issue.
As opposed to another border tour and roadshow, such as U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson’s recent 60 republican-member convoy, Congress could simply do something! The time spent pretending to be shocked and doubling down on blaming one man/administration for the nation’s immigration crisis is both a waste of time and disingenuous.
The migrant airdrops and inhumane bus rides, exacted by republican governors like Greg Abbott in Texas and Ron DeSantis in Florida, are not solely about border control. By way of influencing policy, it’s also a waste of time and disingenuous. The targeted trafficking of more than 80,000 migrants, to democratically led cities, is political. Just to the south of us, Chicago, is buckling under the weight of thousands of these recent and unexpected arrivals. New York, Denver, Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles have also been inundated. This is not a state problem, though. It’s a national challenge that we must address.
Before the holiday break, I joined a bi-partisan group of legislators in introducing Assembly Bill 822. The bill addresses the eligibility for recipients of deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to receive occupational credentials. The bill is also representative of the varying degrees that we are impacted by comprehensive inaction on immigration reform.
As an example, As of December 31, 2022, there were roughly 580,000 active DACA recipients living in the U.S. It is also estimated that DACA recipients, together with other immigrants, account for about 17% of the U.S workforce. Wisconsin, like many states permits recipients of deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, to work legally in the United States. Remember, most DACA cases are adults, who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children, through no fault of their own. In many ways, this is the only country and home they know.
As states continue to take a piecemeal approach, to addressing the byproduct of a broken immigration system, we all suffer. In fact, I agree with Congresswoman Veronica Escobar who said “Our immigration system is no longer just broken and messy. It’s now dangerously dysfunctional.” But somehow, I remain optimistic that we can bring about real reform.
Escobar, who’s a Democrat from Texas and Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar, a Republican in Florida, have introduced the bipartisan Dignity Act of 2023. The bill seeks to strengthen border security, provide pathways to citizenship, and address Dreamers. For now, many of us are working through our immigration challenges, one state and one migrant at a time.