The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement held a hearing on Thursday, January 11, 2024, entitled, “The Impact of Illegal Immigration on Social Services.” Witnessed included: Manuel Mello III, Fire Department Chief of Eagle Pass, Texas; Danyela Souza Egorov, Vice President of the Community Education Council for New York City School District 2; Steven Camarota, Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies; and Gregory Chen, Senior Director of Government Relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

There was a bipartisan consensus that documented immigration is beneficial to the US. Immigrants were viewed as being one of the solutions to the current low unemployment rate and eight million unfilled positions. Documented immigrants/migrants were deemed as not only integral to the farming industry but viewed as having the potential of playing a significant role in addressing the dwindling birth rates and the ageing population in the US as well as in other developing countries. Also, it was noted that during the pandemic, undocumented immigrants were essential low-skill workers in the hospital/medical field. Further, in places like South Carolina the deportation of undocumented immigrants adversely impacted the small businesses that employed them.

Though there was general agreement that the current immigration situation warrants immediate remediation, the participants differed in terms of the solutions offered. One Democrat advocated for compromise and offered the bipartisan Dignity Act as an alternative to the Republican immigration bill, H.R.2. It was stated that H.R.2 is unrealistic as Mexico will not accept the immigrants the US reject. Others stated that the ineffective immigration system hurts the US and not undocumented immigrants. Considering this, there were recommendations for: expanding legal pathways to immigration; expediating the process for work authorization, so that immigrants can work as soon as possible; providing $13.6 billion and Shelter in Services FEMA to fund the staffing and infrastructure required to expedite the immigration process; the cessation of political stunts such as busing migrants to other states because this causes chaos and lack of adequate planning; and supporting legal immigration pathways for the Dreamers, as most US citizens do.

By Aretha Campbell, Policy Intern