If the current political stalemate over immigration reform is any indication, many U.S. policymakers have yet to heed the lessons of recent history when it comes to formulating a realistic strategy to control undocumented immigration. In 1986, lawmakers passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in an attempt to reign in undocumented immigration through heightened worksite and border enforcement, combined with legalization of most undocumented immigrants already in the country. Read more...
As we have seen in the last month, segments of the United States media, policy leaders, and populace continue to be obsessed with the issue of undocumented immigration to the United States. Turn on CNN and you may find Lou Dobbs chastising President Bush for failing "to enforce immigration laws that would slow the invasion of illegal aliens." Open the Los Angeles Times, and you can read about California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger singing praises for the Minuteman Project, the volunteer group of Arizona vigilantes formed to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. Open a paper in Las Cruces, New Mexico and you can read about Mexican workers in Chihuahua, Mexico waiting for the right time to cross the border illegally to find work as ranch hands in New Mexico or in construction in Chicago. In Boise, Idaho a letter to the editor complains about illegal immigrants and "[contractors] willing to pay cheap wages under the table...in lieu of hiring American citizens."
Most of the border-enforcement and immigration-reform proposals currently being considered in Washington, DC, are not comprehensive or adequate solutions to the issue of undocumented immigration. The process of North American economic integration, and development within Mexico itself, create structural conditions that encourage Mexican migration to the United States. Read more...
Congressional representatives who supported H.R. 4437—the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005—are most likely to represent districts with relatively few undocumented immigrants.
The immigration debate once again is dominated by narrow thinking and the search for simplistic solutions to complex problems. Most lawmakers and the press have come to equate “immigration reform” with the question of whether or not enhanced immigration enforcement should be coupled with a new guest worker program that is more responsive than current immigration policies to the labor needs of the U.S. economy. All but lost in this debate have been the calls by prominent immigration reform advocates to improve and expand pathways for permanent immigration as well.
In the United States, human traffickers most frequently exploit the desperation of undocumented immigrants as a means of obtaining victims. Until recently, their lack of legal status precluded undocumented trafficking victims from receiving government protections typically available to other crime victims and kept them from remaining in the United States to assist in the prosecution of their abusers.
The current crisis of undocumented immigration to the United States has its roots in fundamental misunderstandings about the causes of immigration and the motivations of immigrants. A growing body of evidence indicates that current border enforcement policies are based on mistaken assumptions and have failed. Undocumented migrants continue to come to the United States, rates of apprehension are at all-time lows, and migrants are settling in the United States at higher rates than ever before. Developing effective and realistic immigration policies requires overcoming five basic myths about immigration.
Current immigration policies are completely out of sync with the U.S. economy’s demand for workers who fill less-skilled jobs, especially in the case of Mexican workers. While U.S. immigration policies present a wide array of avenues for immigrants to enter the United States, very few of these avenues are tailored to workers in less-skilled occupations. It should come as no surprise, then, that immigrants come to or remain in the United States without proper documentation in response to the strong economic demand for less-skilled labor.