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...
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.
Given the extent to which undocumented immigrants already living in the United States are part of U.S.-based families, comprehensive immigration reform must include more than just a new temporary worker program.
President Bush’s proposal to address the problem of undocumented immigration by creating more opportunities for legal immigration and providing a legal status to those already here is a useful starting point in reforming a broken immigration system that costs hundreds of lives and billions of dollars every year.
Notre Dame professor Jorge Bustamante concludes that both the U.S. and Mexican economies benefit by “regularizing” undocumented immigrants. Current immigration restrictions disrupt labor flows and lives along U.S.-Mexican border.