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September 18, 2006

Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge Explains Why Enforcement Is Not Enough

As the immigration debate has grown increasingly divisive and politically charged, options for reform have polarized into two sharply opposed approaches: an enforcement-only approach, which seeks to seal our borders and strengthen enforcement of immigration laws; and comprehensive reform, which, like the former approach, increases border security and enforcement, but also expands legal channels for future immigrants and creates a path for undocumented immigrants already here to earn the privilege of citizenship.

Throughout the debate, AILA has held steadfast to its support for comprehensive immigration reform as the only long-term policy solution to our nation's broken immigration system. AILA is not alone. Every senior government official to study this issue has concluded that no amount of enforcement will staunch the flow of undocumented immigrants unless it is accompanied by earned legalization and a temporary worker program. In a commentary piece published in the Washington Times on September 10, former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge wrote, "[B]order enforcement will continue to fail so long as we refuse to allow willing workers a chance to work legally for a willing employer." He further noted that even at the record high rate of deportations sustained over the past two years, it would take 70 years to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in this country.

Mr. Ridge's assessment echoes a statement issued on July 20 by the Coalition for Immigration Security, whose members have all held high-ranking positions in the Executive Branch with responsibility for immigration law enforcement and border security. According to these experts, each year as many as 500,000 immigrants enter the U.S. without authorization, despite recent increases in spending on border enforcement. "[E]nforcement alone," the Coalition concludes, "will not do the job of securing our borders."

Secure borders require a new approach to the undocumented immigrants who live and work in our nation, and to those who will come—reform or no reform—to work here in the future. To learn more about why tougher enforcement must be coupled with earned legalization and expanded channels for legal immigration, read Beyond the Border Buildup: Towards a New Approach to Mexico-U.S. Migration by Princeton Professor Douglas S. Massey, published by the nonpartisan Immigration Policy Center.

Posted by VisaLawyer at September 18, 2006 06:39 AM

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