This week, we read about the new budget resolution package, declining immigration rates in Northwest Arkansas, and the reunification task force that is bringing families back together at the border.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved a $3.5 billion budget resolution package. The package outlines plans for health, family, and environmental programs. The package also includes plans to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants.
The package does not currently specify which groups this pathway is meant for. Yet, House Democrats have previously proposed a plan that would provide a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, migrant farmworkers, immigrants that are essential workers, and immigrants that already hold Temporary Protected Status. A summary of the bill mentions that it will provide green cards for millions of immigrants.
President Biden supported the inclusion of immigration reform in the resolution package. However, Senate Judiciary members have made little progress in immigration reform. Some members have proposed a plan that would only provide a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers already in the DACA program. Others, such as Sen. Majority whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), say this is limiting.
Immigrants have made a big impact on the cultural and political landscape of developing communities such as Northwest Arkansas. The area is becoming one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. Tens of thousands of immigrants have helped to spur its development. However, as immigration numbers continue to decline, it may be difficult for emerging areas to continue to grow. Company leaders in the area have said that without the work of immigrants, it’s hard to imagine how their business would grow.
Companies such as Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt have relied on immigrant workers to grow and sustain their businesses. In Northwest Arkansas, many of the immigrants working in poultry production, construction, and technology have come from El Salvador, India, Mexico, and other countries.
“We have a fast-growing economy, and we are concerned about a labor shortage,” said Nelson Peacock, who heads the Northwest Arkansas Council, founded by major employers in the region to promote economic development. “We need workers of all skill levels, and immigrants are an important part of the equation.”
For up-and-coming regions such as Northwest Arkansas, the influx of immigrants has fueled their growth. However, as the economy begins to improve post-pandemic, there is a stall in expansion. This stall is largely due to the decline in immigration in the U.S.
Reporters have also said that the immigration decline is a major factor in the U.S. population decline. Many argue that more opportunities for legal immigration will lead to more local economies being able to prosper.
“The makeup of Northwest Arkansas has changed dramatically thanks to immigrants, and we are much better off because of them,” said Kevin Flores, 33, who arrived in the United States when he was 3 years old. “To keep flourishing, the region will need immigrants to continue moving here.”
Lawyers are working to find the parents of 337 children that were separated from their families at the border during the Trump administration. A federal court filing reported that, since the “zero policy” rule was enacted, only 31 parents have been reunited with their children after being separated at the border.
The Biden Administration created a reunification task force to help unite parents with their children. The task force has been using thousands of records to determine how many families have been separated, and have already reunited 45 children with their families.
Immigrant advocacy groups have encouraged the administration to quicken the pace in reuniting families. However, officials from the Department of Homeland Security have said they “chose intentionally to start slow, so [they] can go fast later.”