Congress Should Enact Immigration Reform

 

Albert Baldeo

BY ALBERT BALDEO

The unsolved issues of immigration is being spoken of everywhere in America, our great land of immigrants. Debates and opinions rage, for and against immigrants. As you are no doubt aware, on March 27 the Senate Judiciary Committee completed marking up what emerged out of Committee as an excellent, bipartisan immigration reform bill. Committee members worked diligently over the course of many days, debating, considering, and developing a workable, truly comprehensive piece of legislation that addresses fundamental aspects of immigration law long in need of just this type of overhaul.

To gain control of our borders and truly guarantee our security, we must implement, as the Judiciary Committee bill proposes, a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that will address the 11 million people living here without status.

We cannot create a permanent subclass in America. The vast majority of these undocumented immigrants are law-abiding, hardworking people who pay their taxes and contribute to our society. By allowing these people an opportunity to come out of the shadows, register with the government, pay a suitable fine, go through the security check process, and earn the privilege of legal status, we can restore the rule of law in our workplaces and communities and focus our enforcement resources on those who mean us harm. This will mean more money in our treasury. You will know exactly “who is where” in our great democracy. This is also a means of eliminating intrusions into the privacy of those who live here.

Besides providing a path to citizenship with reasonable requirements for those who are already here, a realistic, comprehensive approach to immigration reform, like that in the Judiciary Committee bill, must include an effective guest worker program that would match willing workers with willing employers. It must also reunite close family members, some of whom have been separated for 20 years.

Finally, comprehensive immigration reform must do as the Judiciary Committee bill proposes and implement a smart border security regime so that we know who is coming into our country. Such reform would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods that is essential to our economy. A vibrant economy, in turn, is essential to fund our security needs.

We have spent the last 20 years trying in vain to tighten our immigration enforcement. Until our immigration laws are synchronized with our economic realities and provide a safe, legal, and orderly way for migrants to enter our country to work and reunite with family, and for those who are here to come out of the underground and become integrated with society, we cannot hope to gain control of our muddled immigration system.
I strongly urge you to enact realistic, comprehensive immigration reform by supporting the bill that emerged out of the Judiciary Committee, and to reject enforcement-only measures that hurt communities and do nothing to help us gain control of our borders or make us more secure.

You must support a comprehensive approach to reforming our immigration system and oppose shortsighted “enforcement-only” proposals that purport to get tough, but that are doomed to fail without a concomitant reform of our laws. Our immigration system is fundamentally broken, and we need a realistic, comprehensive solution, not more of the same failed policies. The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (S. 1033/H.R. 2330) offers a viable solution and I urge you to support it.

The past two decades have shown that enforcement-only policies do not work. Between 1986 and 2002, the number of Border Patrol officers tripled and the number of hours they spent patrolling the border grew by a factor of eight, but in that same time period, the probability of apprehension along the U.S.-Mexico border dropped from about 33 percent to 5 percent. To truly guarantee our security, we need to enact legislation that brings immigrants out of the shadows; shuts down smuggling operations and the black market in fake documents; restores the rule of law at our borders, in our workplaces, and in our communities; and encourages those who settle here to get on the path to lawful permanent status and eventual integration through citizenship.

A March 2005 poll of likely voters and a new poll of likely Republican voters both show that Americans strongly support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that increases border security, implements an effective guest worker program, and provides a path to citizenship with reasonable requirements.
The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (S. 1033/H.R. 2330) would do all of these things. This bipartisan, bicameral, and comprehensive measure seeks to make immigration safe, legal, controlled, and orderly. Please act now!
Albert Baldeo is an attorney and a past candidate for the 28th Council District.


 
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