The Washington Post editorializes today: “In a handful of Southern and Western states, Republican governors and lawmakers are vowing to replicate Arizona’s harshly nativist law or go even further with bills that would outlaw the presence of undocumented immigrants or require police to screen suspects for immigration status – or both. The assumption underlying such legislation is that the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country, including the 7 million who hold jobs, can and should be deported en masse.”
This is just plain false. Advocates for stronger immigration law enforcement do not believe that illegal immigrants should be deported en masse. Heritage analyst Jena McNeill explains:
Solving illegal immigration is more often than not phrased as a choice between amnesty and mass deportation. … Undoubtedly, this is a great line for an op-ed, but not representative of reality. Most Americans want a solution that does neither. They want an immigration system that enforces the law, helps the economy, betters America’s image, and brings new immigrants into the United States, much like their ancestors did not so long ago. This should be the goal of real immigration reform.
So what should Congress do about our broken immigration system. McNeill writes:
Securing the border. While substantial work has been done to secure the southern border, there are still significant actions that need to be taken in terms of ensuring that the technologies and infrastructure on the ground can work to assist Border Patrol agents in doing their jobs. Deployment of additional key technologies as well as robust cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement are vital for gaining control of the border.
Enforcement of immigration laws. Enforcement of current immigration laws inside the U.S. would discourage illegal immigration and the employment of illegal labor. Recent actions by the Administration, however, have degraded enforcement policies even further—including the Administration’s recent announcement that it would not enforce the law against “non-criminal” illegal aliens. Congress should insist on robust enforcement of immigration laws.
Emphasize legal immigration. The process by which individuals enter the country legally should be fair, orderly, and efficient—welcoming those who abide by immigration laws and denying entry and advantages to those who violate the law. Reforms in visa services are important for achieving this goal. The U.S. should pilot truly temporary worker programs that allow for a market-driven source of legal labor.