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Panel: Technology can lessen challenges of immigration reform

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Technological innovation may lessen the challenges inherent in immigration and border control reforms, former senior government officials said at a Feb. 7 panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Technology can reduce the burden of tasks such as verifying an employee's immigration status, granting visas, and screening those seeking to enter the United States, the panelists said.

Providing a user-friendly system interface to enter data is vital, said Michael Petrucelli, former acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services "Giving the population that's going to access this immigration reform the tools to be able to input their information very swiftly is going to be absolutely key," he said.

One area where technology has already made an impact is the student visa program, said Julie Myers Wood, former assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Homeland Security Department. "Students used to be managed in a form-centric way, and now the system is more person-centric so you are tracking one person through the system," said Wood.

However, she added that work-side enforcement is an area where the government has come up short, despite the creation of E-Verify, a system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.

"For comprehensive immigration reform to stick and work, that is an area where technology can really make a transformative difference especially if the burden is put back on the government," says Wood.

For more:
- watch the panel discussion

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