I want to continue speaking with you about “immigration”. Today’s column is Part I of a two-part column on “Better Border Enforcement”.
PERCEIVED MYTH: Better border enforcement will solve the immigration problem
KNOWN FACT: For more than two decades, the U.S. government has tried without success to stamp out unauthorized immigration through enforcement efforts at the border and in the interior of the country, without fundamentally reforming the broken immigration system that spurs unauthorized immigration in the first place. While billions upon billions of dollars have been poured into enforcement, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has increased. Enforcement alone will not solve our immigration problems.
For years the U.S. government has attempted to use employer sanctions, border walls, worksite raids, and other deportation-only measures to stop unauthorized immigration, but the unauthorized population of the United States has tripled in size, from roughly 3.5 million in 1990 to 11.1 million in 2009. However, between 2009 and 2016, the undocumented immigrant population is estimated to have dropped to about 10.9 million in January, 2016, the lowest number since 2003.
Immigration concerns can be solved
To solve this problem, America needs leaders to balance good immigration policy with enforcement priorities: The most practical and realistic way to reduce unauthorized immigration dramatically is to bring U.S. immigration policy in line with economic and social realities. Such a policy must include the following elements: a realistic legal immigration framework that protects U.S. workers while providing needed labor to American businesses; controlled but reasonable limits on family immigration which encourage unification of families and stable communities; and a tough but fair legalization program for those here without authorization. The under girding of such an immigration regimen is enforcement at the border and the workplace which is targeted at wrongdoers and genuine threats, rather than those merely seeking a better life.
Fr. Tom Jones, C.S.C., Administrator