published Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Immigration ripe for reform

Brighter prospects for immigration reform rose sharply following the November presidential election, and understandably so.

Despite his vigorous, record-breaking efforts to shut down illegal immigration on the southern border, President Obama’s empathy for immigration reform won overwhelming electoral support from the nation’s legal immigrants, an essential voting bloc for turning the tight election in his favor.

Republicans, whose noisy right wing had embraced the unprecedented harsh tactics of Arizona and Alabama extremists to drive out their needed but undocumented immigrants, suddenly realized they had shot themselves in the foot by denying the reality of the nation’s nation rapidly changing electoral demography. Their studied promise, on the heels of their defeat, to collaborate on reasonable immigration reforms has since set the stage for a long-sought overhaul of immigration rules, a matter which traditionally had been a bipartisan concern until the tea party stole the GOP compass.

Now both parties are quietly at work on an immigration reform plan, at least in the Senate. The key Republican committee chairs in the House leadership are another matter. Both the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the new chairman of the immigration subcommittee, hold hard-line views on immigration reform.

Republicans are in a pickle both ways. They cannot credibly maintain that President Obama’s policies on stanching the flow of undocumented aliens have been anything but robust. In fact, his policies have been criticized by advocates of looser rules precisely because they have been far more effective (and costly as well) than those of any of his predecessors in the White House.

A study released last Monday by the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan group that focuses on global immigration issues, gives some of the vital details. In the 2012 budget year, for example, the Obama administration spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement programs under the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) department, and the US-Visit program. That’s $3.6 billion above the combined spending of the FBI, the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency.

The administration’s commitment to border security is now recognized as “the most determined,” most expensive and deepest commitment of any nation in the world, a Migration Policy Institute spokesman said. Obama’s administration has set three significant records in immigration control: ICE border control agents arrested a record 327,000 undocumented immigrants attempting the cross the southern border in 2011. The Homeland Security Department removed a record 410,000 illegal immigrants from around the country in 2012. And the administration, by 2012, had stationed a record number of Border Patrol agents on the nation’s borders.

Obama’s efforts, far surpassing those of former President George W. Bush, have targeted both illegal workers and Americans employers who exploit immigrants for cheap labor and routinely ignore rules requiring viable scrutiny of workers’ documentation and legal status. His policies have also targeted removal of undocumented immigrants who have a criminal record or are arrested for crimes. And they have tightened control of temporary visas, which have become the easiest way to enter the country and remain illegally.

What sets Obama’s administration apart is his understanding of the nation’s economic need to provide legal status, dignity and a earned path to citizenship for most of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Most of these people already participate in American communities as responsible, hard-working, family-oriented members of our social, civic and economic infrastructure.

Obama was correct also to issue an executive order last year to institute the provisions of the DREAM Act that Republicans have twice refused to pass. That order allows young people who were brought to the United States as children and without a visa, and who have grown up essentially as Americans, to qualify for application for citizenship if their school, community, work and military service records show them to be good potential citizens.

Obama has shown that a balanced program on immigration control can work at both ends of the spectrum to provide border security and reasoned growth in immigration. Putting a more comprehensive immigration program in place, with humane respect for undocumented immigrants who have enriched our nation in myriad ways, remains a proper goal. It’s time for Republicans to step up and affirm that path.

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nucanuck said...

I am just ending a month-long visit in Manzanillo,Mexico and have observed and spoken with many Mexicans who have spent part of their life (some legal,some not)in the USA. Taking what they have learned, they have become leaders in an emerging middle class that is leading Mexico to the strongest growth in the western hemisphere over the past two years.

The irony is that current US policy is scaring many long-term settled undocumented workers to pack up and leave the US, weakening US society and strengthening Mexican society.

Mexico seems to be a country on the move. I wish that I could say the same for the US.

January 13, 2013 at 8:07 a.m.
aae1049 said...

I wish the USA could geographically detach from Mexico. They hate Americans, and the Mexico high dollar tourist traps require armed machine gun circumferences. So, yeah let's take the family there for fun. It's a good deal.

Although the main stream news keeps it off the radar, many Americans are murdered and raped while assuming the coastal beauty of Mexico has American safety. Before you travel to Mexico inland or coastal, get the facts about how really dangerous their country is, and how they feel about their American neighbors.

Be undocumented in Mexico, and see how they handle it. Automatic incarceration with prison guards who are the drug cartel.

January 13, 2013 at 2:19 p.m.
aae1049 said...

True patriotism means that you support your country regardless. The fact the undocumented workers are returning to their homeland Mexico speaks volumes. Don't let the USA door in them on the a.....

January 13, 2013 at 3:19 p.m.
nucanuck said...

aae1049,

No one denies that Mexico has a violence problem with the drug cartels, but that misses the point that Mexico is breaking out of it's torpor and turning into an engine for growth. Mexico is on a positive path while still dealing with many problems such as corruption, violence and poor education. But they are making headway.

The violence is directly related to US drug consumption, our problem more than theirs. They are beginning to change policies to shift the burden of drug flow intervention onto the US, where it belongs.

Corruption is a tough one.

Education is being addressed by, in some cases, utilizing schools two or three shifts a day...pretty cost effective.

The spark for much of the good happening in Mexico is coming from the 10-15 million returnees from the US. These are the people that were contributing to our economy and left in fear or lack of respect that was part of their life in the US.

As I said earlier, Mexico is a country on the rise. Our short-sighted immigration policies are hurting us and helping Mexico.

BTW, Mexicans don't hate America, they hate the prejudice and arrogance often displayed by Americans who seem to think that they are some how superior.

January 14, 2013 at 12:09 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Nucanuck, Migration back to Mexico good, overall. I hope those returning can make Mexico a better place. Anything would be an improvement, corrupt gov. crime, doe sound alot like Washington.

January 14, 2013 at 8:21 p.m.
vandora said...

Lets just say that Americans have kept their heads in the sand for decades regarding illegal immigrants. Government has allowed it. Now that we are awake, we are angry that we didn't educate ourselves much earlier, but most are also mad at government for not being a beacon of truth to the citizens. So, okay, we are waking up finally. We can't demand the clock to turn back and we need to move forward, not dwell and not freeze. Lets swallow our ignorance and be reasonable. Overhaul our immigration laws. Enforce them. Seal all borders!! Allow the 11 million acceptable Mexicans to apply for citizenship. Keep sending the bad ones back. And vow never again, to allow illegals to come to America and stay. Laws are made to obey and be enforced. We, as citizens, naturally disapprove illegals taking advantage of what is ours, by rights and laws. Its the same as a robbery. Its fraud. They may not have just taken jobs some of us didn't want, Their being available kept many citizens from learning what its like start at the bottom, to accept low pay and learn how to manage, to feel the urge to improve and educate themselves, to experience pride in their labor, and satisfaction of 'a job well done', or motivation to move up the ladder. Lets please learn from this and move on. Lets tackle the other urgent jobs, like cutting spending and balancing the budget, and informing ourselves.

January 15, 2013 at 9:42 p.m.
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