Remember when U.S. immigration reform seemed like it was finally in the cards?

That was so 2013.

The brief burst of fanfare following passage of the Senate’s comprehensive bill last year faded quickly when the debate hit the bitterly divided House, where prospects for getting anything done have now been all but extinguished.

And that means starting over from square one. Again.

But now that the Republicans have won control of the Senate, the issue may soon resurface, with a stronger possibility of a bill making it through both chambers of Congress.

That comes on the heels of this summer’s immigration crisis, when thousands of unaccompanied child migrants were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. The events underscored the urgent need to address America’s outdated immigration laws and figure out some updated plan of action for dealing with the more than 11 million undocumented people who already live here.

This interactive, produced for The Lowdown by Newsbound, explains what comprehensive reform actually means, why it hasn’t happened yet and how we got here to begin with.

To learn more …

  • Kurt thialfad

    The statement that “immigrants boost the economy and fill important jobs that Americans often don’t want”, should be considered in light of the fact that this dynamic accelerates the gap between rich and poor in the US, and also in light of the fact that the pay for these jobs is not enough to live on within the US, which is why these jobs are performed by people from countries having a lower standard of living than the US.

  • Skip Conrad

    “An overwhelming majority of American think undocumented immigrants who are already here should be eligible for citizenship.”
    This is an absurd statement, because today, under current law, undocumented immigrants who are already here are indeed eligible for citizenship. Yes, indeed!
    In order to gain US citizenship, each needs to pay a visit to the US consulate in his home country and apply for a green card, just like anybody else. This way the background checks can be made, the necessary fees paid, language skills demonstrated, education and job skills evaluated, health risks determined, financial solvency verified, and the applicant can be interviewed in person, so that an accurate profile of the person’s character can be built.
    We can’t have immigrants themselves deciding who gets citizenship and who doesn’t. That is patently absurd! It must be the decision of the American people, under the control of the American people, and in the interest of the American people.

  • jurgispilis

    “A …. blah-blah … minority is concerned immigrants will take away jobs, depress wages, increase crime and change the very fabric of American society. “

    These facts may very well be true, but for me, it is more a matter of the of the environmental impact. We are the 3rd most populous nation after China and India. We have the highest per capital carbon footprint. We should be the last country that should be accelerating her population growth. We should be working towards stabilizing our human population growth for the benefit of our fellow species, for the conservation of our precious resources, and for our children and future generations.

    And yes, American applicants should again get priority for jobs in America. But since October 2000, this stipulation was removed, thanks to Dianne Feinstein and Ted Kennedy.


Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @KQEDlowdown

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