Supporters and detractors agree that that, should the bill become law, they expect legal immigration to boom over the next 10 years.
Pro-reform analysts say that’s a good thing: The bill is replacing illegal workers with legal ones, these advocates argue, thus allowing American employers legally to meet legitimate business needs and uniting families kept apart by poorly fashioned immigration laws.
“You’re having to play catch-up for 20 years of neglect of this system,” says Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center and a former aide to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts during the 2007 immigration reform effort.
Without creating a functional (and larger) legal immigration system, they say, the lures for illegal immigration will remain.
But the only hard numbers being thrown around are from immigration reform critics like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama and low-immigrant advocacy groups like Numbers USA, who believe the current Senate bill could double the number of foreigners who gain legal residence over the next decade and add scores of low-skilled workers to an economy with persistently high unemployment.