The public debate over immigration reform, which all too often devolves into emotional rhetoric, could use a healthy dose of economic realism. As Congress and the White House fulfill their recent pledges to craft immigration-reform legislation in the months ahead, they must ask themselves a fundamental question: can we afford any longer to pursue a deportation-only policy that ignores economic reality?
America’s immigration laws are some of the most complex and archaic provisions that can be found in the U.S. statutes. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) rivals the tax code in the level of detail, confusion, and absurd consequences produced by years of layering on provisions without systematically reviewing their results. Since the 1960s, Congress has periodically overhauled the INA, but has tended to focus on one hot-button issue at a time, resulting in a patchwork of outdated laws that fail to reflect the realities of 21st century America. The necessity of comprehensive immigration reform stems from years of neglect and failure to respond to incompatible interactions between different parts of the system, resulting in breakdowns that have crippled our ability to regulate immigration adequately, protect our borders, reunite families, and foster economic opportunity.
AgJOBS is a bipartisan, compromise bill that is the result of years of negotiations among farmworkers, growers, and Members of Congress. The Immigration Policy Center has produced a Fact Check on Farmworkers.
U.S. immigration policy is based on denial. Most lawmakers in the United States have largely embraced the process of economic “globalization,” yet stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that increased migration, especially from developing nations to developed nations, is an integral and inevitable part of this process.
The political debate over undocumented immigrants in the United States has largely ignored the plight of undocumented children who, for the most part, have grown up and received much of their primary and secondary education in this country. A new report from the Immigration Policy Center by Roberto Gonzales, Wasted Talent and Broken Dreams: The Lost Potential of Undocumented Students, makes clear that without a means to legalize their status, these children are seldom able to go on to college, cannot work legally in the United States, and therefore cannot put their educations to good use. Moreover, at any time, they can be deported to countries they barely know (www.ailf.org/ipc/infocus/WastedTalent.pdf). This wasted talent imposes financial and emotional costs not only on undocumented students themselves, but on the U.S. economy and U.S. society as a whole.
Critics of H.R. 5882, a bill that would would allow visas that have gone unused due to bureaucratic delays to be "recaptured" and issued to family- or employment-based legal immigrants, claim it will needlesly create new visas. The fact is that "recapturing" lost visas would not authorize any new green cards; it would allow the government to issue green cards that Congress has already authorized.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changes in federal, state, and local law-enforcement priorities and practices have had a profound impact on America’s Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. Some of these policy shifts applied exclusively or primarily to those communities, such as the federal “special registration” program, selective enforcement of immigration laws based on national origin or religion, and expanded federal counter-terrorism efforts that targeted these communities. At the same time, a wide range of ethnic groups have been affected by the use of state and local police agencies to enforce federal immigration law, and the aggressive use of detention and deportation authority for even minor infractions and technicalities.
Across the United States, police departments and Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have responded with varied approaches to the new post-September 11 reality. In some cities, serious tensions between law-enforcement agencies and immigrant communities have arisen. Other cities have taken steps to alleviate these tensions and promote dialogue and cooperation with immigrant communities. This report evaluates the challenges and successes of recent trust-building efforts between immigrant communities and local police departments, and the responses of each to new and proposed policies that threaten those efforts. Using the experiences of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, the report offers insights that apply to much broader populations. It draws attention to best practices and policy solutions such as the creation of more effective channels for public dialogue and communication, public education campaigns, officer training and recruiting programs, and forms of cooperation between police and community organizations.