Pew Hispanic Center Report Reveals Limits of Enforcement-Only Agenda: Costs to Taxpayers Will Surge as Undocumented Will Burrow Further Underground
Washington – A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center on the undocumented population in the United States finds that, despite ramped-up enforcement efforts and the continued effects of the economic recession, the undocumented population remains “virtually unchanged” from a year ago, at an estimated 11.2 million persons nationwide. The durable and settled nature of the undocumented population reveals the limits and costs of an enforcement-only approach to immigration policy and underscores the faulty reasoning behind such efforts.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The mass-deportation, ugly fantasies of anti-immigrant lawmakers are just that – ugly fantasies. Despite unprecedented spending and energy on immigration enforcement efforts, the undocumented population remains durable and inextricably part of the fabric of American communities. We have tried to enforce our way to a better immigration system for years and it is crystal clear that it isn’t working and that the only solution is comprehensive immigration reform.”
Through the lens of the report findings, attempts by Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives to propose additional enforcement-only crackdowns will only serve to drive the undocumented population further underground – at great cost to American taxpayers and honest employers. Additionally, despite the Arizona “papers, please” immigration law and similar copycat laws spreading in a number of state legislatures, the report shows that the “attrition through enforcement” theory behind such laws is fatally flawed. Washington Post editorial writer Lee Hockstader captured these dynamics well today, writing, “In the gusher of new data, one thing that struck me was how deeply entrenched undocumented migrants are, not just in communities across the land but in the American economy. Dislodging them in any meaningful way isn’t just nativist fantasy; it’s economic folly.”
The American people know that comprehensive immigration reform is the only workable solution. According to November 2010 polling by Lake Research Partners, voters nationwide believe mass deportation is impractical, with 76% saying “deporting all 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States is unrealistic,” including 62% who “strongly” agreed with the characterization. The same poll found that, after describing what comprehensive immigration reform legislation would look like, 81% of voters supported that approach, including 68% who voiced strong support.
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