"There is a broad-based consensus that the U.S. immigration system is broken. This consensus erodes, however, as soon as the options to reform the U.S. immigration system are debated. Substantial efforts to comprehensively reform immigration law failed in the 109th and 110th Congresses. Whether the 112th Congress will address immigration reform in the midst of historically high levels of unemployment and budgetary constrictions is difficult to project. [...] This report synthesizes immigration issues as a multi-tiered debate. It breaks down the U.S. immigration law and policy into key elements: border control and visa security; legal immigration; documentation and verification; interior immigration enforcement; integration, status, and benefits; and refugees and other humanitarian populations. It delineates the debate in the 112th Congress for a range of issues, including border security, criminal aliens, worksite enforcement, employment eligibility verification, permanent admissions, temporary workers, legalization, noncitizen eligibility for federal benefits, birthright citizenship, and the role of state and local law enforcement in enforcing immigration laws. Current circumstances may sharpen the social and business cleavages as well as narrow the range of options. Nonetheless, selected immigration issues are likely to be a major concern for the 112th Congress, even if legislative action on such contentious issues appears daunting."
CRS Report for Congress, R41704