Previous administrations have talked about immigration reform but never tackled it in a meaningful way.
That may be changing.
A bi-partisan group of congressional leaders is working with the white house on a plan.
And while both sides of the aisle may be eyeing the growing Latino block of American voters....here in Sioux Falls, any immigration progress would be wide spread.
Sioux Falls has a population of 160,000 people and if you think our city isn't a diverse one, listen to this. "We have 98 different countries represented here. 128 different languages and dialects spoken here. For Sioux Falls, several of these principles would be really nice." Christy Nicolaisen is the executive director of Sioux Falls' Multi-Cultural Center and if you ask her what she thinks of the nation's current immigration system.....well let's just say she is not impressed. "We have a broken system. everyone knows we have a broken system. so something has to happen."
But what should that something be? Nicolaisen tells us, one component needs to involve allowing international students easier access to American universities and then allowing them to remain here to help propel the American economy forward. "I think it will help Sioux Falls is they can start businesses."
Nicolaisen says it would also be beneficial if a way could be found to streamline the citizenship process. Currently, from filing for citizenship to becoming an actual citizen can take six years and in many cases a lot longer than that. What we're seeing in Washington now is an attempt to change the system.....and President Obama vowing to get some type of positive change made. "He's in his second term...its not like he can get voted out...he's in his last term so hopefully he's more effective in getting this done."
So what could immigration reform look like?
On the table right now, more money and attention paid to securing the U-S border with Mexico.
Also, allowing existing illegal immigrants to remain in the country...so long as they have no criminal record.
But in addition, the existing illegals would also have to pay a financial penalty to the federal government.
Also, easing immigration restrictions for students who are studying in critical areas, such as science.
Again, this is in it's early stages so none of this set in stone.