Campus progressives often make illegal immigrants a focus of their activism.

However, Cornell University senior Raj Kannappan reminds everyone that the best solution will come from addressing problems associated with legal immigration.

Three words currently reign supreme in Washington: comprehensive immigration reform.

At stake are millions of potential votes.

Since the end of 2012, a bipartisan group of eight senators has worked to develop an immigration reform package. Earlier this month, an immigration reform bill drafted by President Obama and his advisors was leaked. Apparently, it will serve as a backup in case Congress fails to deliver “comprehensive” reform. It seems that on immigration reform, Democrats and Republicans agree on the oft-repeated declaration, “The time is now.”

Politics, for all the criticism it draws, is often eventually able to help elected officials hone in on the crucial details of important issues. The current immigration reform debate, however, is a case in which this has not held true.

Historically, when discussing immigration reform, presidents and Congress have quite intently focused their efforts on the issue of providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. President Obama and the 113th Congress are no exception.

The White House and Congress have, to date, argued over such details as the length of the border between the United States and Mexico; timelines for deportation of illegal immigrants; crime thresholds for refusing a pathway to citizenship; and the scope of back taxes.

Yet, they have almost entirely ignored legal immigration. Except to mention in timid fashion—as if there should be any doubt in the first place—that they will require illegal immigrants to go to the back of the line. Much of the impetus for this ignorance is political calculation. However, if the White House and Congress have genuine concern for the growth and vitality of the United States, they will heed the need to reform the legal immigration process.

The U.S. legal immigration system is outdated, illogical, and backlogged….

Obama and Congress would do well to focus first on accelerating the granting of work visas, green cards, and citizenship to legal immigrants.

Kannappan ends with a reality check:

Obama and Congress continue to view immigration in purely electoral terms. They therefore resort to grand ideas of providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. They should instead view immigration as a tool to help the United States grow its economy robustly. Their goal should be to attract and keep immigrants capable of contributing to this growth.

Thus, any deal on immigration reform should follow this simple and logical precept: restrict illegal immigration immediately and simplify and accelerate the legal immigration process.