Tag: comprehensive immigration reform

The Federal Solution to Illegal Immigration

A silver lining of the Arizona immigration law is that is has turned up the heat on Washington to re-examine federal policy. As I’ve made the rounds of talk radio shows today, one of the questions that keeps coming up is just what changes should be made in federal law to tackle illegal immigration. Glad you asked.

In brief, the single most effective change would be to expand opportunities for legal immigration, including for low-skilled workers who make up the large majority of the illegal population.

I make the case for comprehensive immigration reform in an op-ed in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

For a more comprehensive case for comprehensive reform, see the lead article I wrote for the current issue of the Albany Government Law Review, titled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform: What Congress and the President Need to do to Make It Work.”

Three Steps to Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Congress can and should pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2010. Any legislation worthy of the name would:

1) offer legalization to undocumented workers who have been here for several years, pass a security check, and pay a reasonable fine and back taxes;

2) create a temporary-visa program sufficient to meet future labor needs of a growing economy; and

3) enforce the law against those who still insist on working outside the system, but in a way that does not restrict the freedom of American citizens.

Reform would reduce illegal immigration by offering a legal alternative. It would tighten border security by allowing U.S. agents to focus on intercepting real criminals and terrorists, not dishwashers and gardeners. And it would expand output, investment, and job opportunities for middle-class Americans. Polls show a majority of Americans will accept the three-fold approach to reform. Recent elections confirm that support for reform is a modest plus with swing voters, and a huge plus with Hispanics.

This is an issue where both major parties can work together to fix our immigration system in a way that boosts the economy, enhances security, and expands liberty.

For more, see Cato’s research on immigration.

Arizona Turns Immigrant Workers into Criminals

Lawmakers in Arizona must believe the state’s law enforcement officers have too much time on their hands.

A bill passed by the legislature yesterday will make it a misdemeanor to be in Arizona without proper immigration paperwork. It also directs Arizona police to question anyone about their immigration status if they have reason to suspect the person is in the country illegally. Failure to produce the proper documents could result in arrest, a $2,500 fine, and up to six months in jail.

Making and enforcing immigration law is a federal responsibility. State and local police should focus their resources on preventing crime and apprehending real criminals who pose a danger to public safety.

Police in Arizona seem to agree. According to an Associated Press report,

[The bill] is opposed by police chiefs, who worry that the law would be too costly, that it would distract them from dealing with more serious problems, and that it would sow such distrust among immigrants that they would not cooperate with officers investigating other crimes.

The right response to illegal immigration should be to change our laws to expand opportunities for legal immigration. As our numerous studies have shown, a comprehensive immigration reform bill in Congress that included a robust temporary worker program would reduce illegal immigration, make the U.S. border more secure, and boost our economy.