Comprehensive Immigration Reform Is the Only Workable Solution
Comprehensive immigration reform will bring control and orderliness to a broken immigration system now characterized by chaos and exploitation. It does so by combining border enforcement; a crackdown on illegal hiring and unfair labor practices; the streamlining of the legal immigration system; and a requirement that those here illegally register with the government, pass background checks, study English, pay taxes, and get in line to work towards citizenship.
Mass deportation is completely impractical. In 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 358,886 people from the United States. Even at that record rate, it would take 34 years to deport the 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States—assuming no new undocumented immigrants entered the country during that time. An even more aggressive policy designed to deport 10 million immigrants in five years would cost $41.2 billion a year according to the Center for American Progress —almost all of DHS’ 2008 annual budget.
Border security experts agree: comprehensive reform is needed. James W. Ziglar, former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and Steward Verdery, former Assistant Secretary for border and Transportation Security Policy at DHS and Adjunct Fellow at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), both advocate passing comprehensive immigration reform.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Protect Community Safety
Law enforcement officials want reform because it would encourage citizens to come forward and work with law enforcement to put criminals behind bars. There is growing pressure on local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws and to aid in the detention and deportation of those with no immigration papers. This has backfired badly on police. As it stands now, crimes go unsolved and criminals go unprosecuted because immigrants’ fear of law enforcement officials prevents them from reporting crimes when they are witnesses or victims. The “chilling effect” has been noted by police officers across the country, as well as in studies of victims of domestic violence.
A Police Foundation survey showed that 85% of police chiefs agree that immigration enforcement makes it less likely that immigrants who are victims of crimes will report them, and 67% agreed that immigration enforcement weakens criminal investigations. Ultimately, as a Rutgers Law Journal article reported, most police chiefs believe that asking state and local police to conduct civil immigration enforcement makes their communities less safe.
Criminals target undocumented immigrants. Criminals have learned that immigrant workers are more likely to have cash on hand than other residents and less likely to report crimes to the police. Since undocumented immigrants are unable to open bank accounts, they often must carry large amounts of cash on their persons—making them “walking ATMs.” A majority of police chiefs believe that undocumented immigrants are more likely to be victims of crime or robbery than other community residents because criminals take advantage of this vulnerability. This makes entire communities less safe.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Restore Public Trust
Police could rebuild trusting relationships with their communities. The Police Foundation has found that 74% of police chiefs are concerned that immigration enforcement will have a negative effect on community relations by decreasing the trust the entire community feels toward police.
Racial profiling and community tensions would be reduced. Many local police departments have been sued over allegations of racial profiling and abuses related to immigration enforcement. While most police agencies act responsibly, those that do target people for civil immigration enforcement based on appearance or language have alienated the community from local police.
The federal government would end constitutionally dubious enforcement measures. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s tactics under the Bush administration, including aggressive raids of workplaces and residences, have come under fire for violating the 4th amendment.