The Secure Border Initiative (SBI), launched by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2005, is a cautionary tale of the dangers inherent in seeking a technological quick fix to the problem of unauthorized immigration. SBI calls not only for fencing the U.S.-Mexico border in the literal sense, but constructing a “virtual fence” as well. Since physical fencing can be climbed over, broken through, or dug under, it is complemented in SBI by a system of cameras and sensors—known as “SBInet”—that will, in theory, alert the Border Patrol whenever an unauthorized border crossing occurs.
The Costs of Enforcement-Only and the Benefits of Comprehensive Reform
Tax Day is an appropriate time to take stock of a few fiscal bottom lines about immigration enforcement and immigration reform. The federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars every year on border and interior enforcement measures intended to deter unauthorized immigration. While these efforts have failed to solve the problem of unauthorized immigration, they have had a negative impact on American families, communities, and the economy. Were the United States to adopt a different approach by implementing comprehensive immigration reform, the legalization of currently unauthorized immigrants alone would generate billions of dollars in additional tax revenue as their wages and tax contributions increase over time.
Since 2004, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has greatly expanded its partnerships with local police through the 287(g) program. As of March 2010, more than 1,075 local officers have been trained and certified through the program under the 67 active Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) in 24 states. However, while the number of MOAs has increased, the numerous problems surrounding them have also become more apparent. Recent reports have found that 287(g) agreements are costing localities millions to implement while ICE provides little oversight and support to the program. Additionally, crime-solving activities are being compromised, the trust between police and community is eroding, and accusations of racial profiling and civil rights violations are on the rise. Furthermore 287 (g) agreements are being used as political tools that interfere with the kind of true community policing that protect and serve our communities.
Every 10 years, as required by the U.S. Constitution, the federal government undertakes a massive nationwide effort to count the residents of the United States, who now number more than 300 million. The results form the basis for the apportionment of congressional districts and the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds, as well as serving to guide a wide range of community-planning decisions across the country.DD The Census is, however, no stranger to controversy, such as the suggestion by some activists that immigrants sit out the Census this year to protest the federal government’s failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform.DD Yet, among demographic groups like immigrants and ethnic minorities who are typically under-counted in the Census, a boycott would be self-defeating. Moreover, anyone living in an area afflicted by a large under-count of any sort stands to lose out on political representation and federal funds.DD For instance, an undercount of Latino immigrants would impact anyone living in a state such as California, New York, or Illinois that has a large population of Latino immigrants—meaning that everyone in those states stands to lose political representation and access to economic and educational opportunities if their residents aren’t fully counted in 2010.
Expanding mandatory E-Verify would threaten the jobs of thousands of U.S. citizens and saddle U.S. businesses with additional costs—all at a time when we need to stimulate our economy. Expanding E-Verify now would be in direct contradiction to the goal of creating jobs and would slow America’s economic recovery.
Study Finds Significant Behavioral Changes in Children After Raids
Children of unauthorized immigrant parents are often forgotten in debates over immigration reform. There are roughly 5.5 million children living in the United States with unauthorized immigrant parents—three-quarters of whom are U.S. born citizens. These families live in constant fear of separation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that over the last 10 years, more than 100,000 immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children have been deported from the United States.
In The Criminal Alien Program: Immigration Enforcement in Travis County, Texas, author Andrea Guttin explores the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), which is one of the programs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses to identify immigrants who may be deportable. The paper provides a history and analysis of the CAP program, as well as a case study of CAP implementation in Travis County, Texas.
What is an immigration detainer and how does it work? Are detainers only placed on unauthorized immigrants? What happens after an immigration detainer has expired? What are the consequences of immigration detainers? In order to better understand immigration detainers’ function and impact, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) provides the following Fact Check to shed much needed light on this often misunderstood immigration enforcement tool.
In the weeks since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, there has been much discussion of the impact the Haitian diaspora in the United States and the remittances they send to family members will have on the nation’s recovery. According to Kristin Johnson, Ph.D., author of the IPC report, Many Happy Returns—Remittances and their Impact: How Money Sent Home by Migrant Workers Helps the American Economy, the remittances Haitians receive will be extremely important to their recovery process. Furthermore, the money that leaves the U.S. in the form of remittances will be used by Haitians to purchase U.S. exports. Over half of Haiti’s imports originate in the U.S., and the states with the most Haitian immigrants also have large export markets in Haiti. In this way, the remittances that immigrants in the U.S send abroad have a positive impact on the U.S. economy and trade. Read more...
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) reports that federal immigration prosecutions rose to record levels during fiscal year (FY) 2009. In the past, federal court resources were appropriately allocated to pursue immigration-related prosecutions against individuals with criminal backgrounds. Recently, however, priorities have shifted, and large numbers of federal immigration prosecutions have focused on non-violent border crossers, creating the appearance that immigrants are committing more crimes. However, the fact is -- the federal government’s shift in resources has meant spending billions of dollars prosecuting non-violent immigration violators while more serious criminals involved in drugs, weapons, and organized crime face a lower probability of prosecution.