This week, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) hosted a briefing on border security and how the border should stop being used as an excuse not to pursue immigration reform. As countless reports (see below) have noted, we spend billions of dollars on border security every year, and the border is more secure than ever. As experts explained during the IPC briefing, border security is more than an immigration issue because true border safety involves objectives that have little to do with undocumented immigration.
Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard explained that connecting legalization with border security is problematic because “we’ve never defined what border security means.” Building a fence along the border, for example, would be a “12th century solution to a 21st century problem.”
David Shirk, an associate professor and director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, explained that people cross the border because they have no way to enter legally. As he said:
Effectively, there is no legitimate means for them to achieve a visa in a timely way so they can work or join their families. There are more people who want to come here and more people who want to hire workers who come here than our visa system allows.
And even though immigration bills from 2005-2007 were not passed, border security benchmarks from those bills have still been met or exceeded. As Su Kim, an advocacy associate for the American Immigration Lawyers Association pointed out, the country should turn its attention toward other components of immigration reform, rather than continuing to throw more resources at the border.
Ultimately, the IPC briefing noted, it is unreasonable to set border enforcement triggers as prerequisites to full immigration reform, because true border security can only be achieved with full immigration reform.
Check out these recent resources on border security:
From Immigration Policy Center:
- How to Fix a Broken Border: A Three Part Series by Terry Goddard (May 2012
- Is More Getting Us Less? Real Solutions for Securing our Border by David Shirk (February 2011)
- Border Security: Moving Beyond Past Benchmarks American Immigration Lawyers Association (January 2013)
- True Border Security and Legalization Go Hand in Hand ImmigrationImpact.com (February 2012)
From the Washington Office on Latin America:
- Five Misconceptions about Border Security
- Beyond the Border Buildup: Security and Migrants Along the US-Mexico Border
- Border Fact Check: Separating Rhetoric from Reality
From the American Immigration Lawyers Association:
From the Migration Policy Institute: