What Happens If Immigration Reform Ignores Future Workers?

That decision may hinge on how easy or difficult it is to continue hiring undocumented immigrants. The immigration reform bill being drafting in the Senate will make it mandatory for employers to verify whether a worker is in the country legally. But the voluntary system being used now -- E-Verify -- failed to detect undocumented workers 54 percent of the time, according to the most recent government study, which looked at data from 2007 and 2008.

If an employment verification system is easy to beat, employers will likely continue to use undocumented workers.

Alex Nowrasteh, the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, cites the 1986 legalization program under President Ronald Reagan as an example of how immigration reform can fail if it doesn't account for future waves of lesser-skilled immigrants:

"Failing to provide a legal immigration pathway to peaceful and healthy immigrants of all skill levels soon erased the gains of Reagan's amnesty," Nowrasteh wrote in a December 2012 Politico op-ed. "After Reagan's amnesty, enforcement increased along with a seemingly intractable unauthorized immigration problem."

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