For the People, by the People, not against the People

One side says the problem is that Washington will not enforce the existing immigration laws. The other says the existing laws cannot be enforced, and that the United States should be more like the EU with completely open immigration for anyone.

Those concerned Americans who are banking on enforcement know that America can radically reduce the number of migrants crossing illegally from Mexico when the border is closed down and under control. This propelled the legislation President Bush recently signed that banned states from providing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, as recommended by the 9/11 Commission since all radical fundalmentalist muslims who attacked the WTC were able to get legetiment driver's licenses, and move around the country unstopped. Many Americans cheered the "Minutemen" who sealed a streach of the border in Arizona with volunteer patrols this spring. Many were surprised to learned that the Minutemen were able to stop more illegal aliens in the month they were active then the entire border patrol for the month. The Minutemen wants to fortify the U.S. Border Patrol with more agents and advanced technology. And it's pushing a bill that would nudge local law enforcement agencies to assume more responsibility for pursuing illegal immigrants, which is set to pass soon.

The assumption linking these ideas is that so many illegal immigrants cross the border (around 2 million a year) because America hasn't tried to stop them. "The immigration law is designed to look tough but not be enforced," says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies.In a recent paper, "Downsizing Illegal Immigration," Krikorian laid out a sweeping long-term strategy for the enforcement camp. In it, he proposed a policy of "attrition" that would impose more enforcement pressure on the border and at the workplace and also demand proof of citizenship at all the checkpoints of modern life, "such as getting a driver's license, registering an automobile, opening a bank account and obtaining government services of any kind." The goal, he writes, wouldn't be to significantly increase arrests but to make it so unpleasant for illegal immigrants that more will leave and fewer will try to enter this country. In Arizona a proposition was passed by the voting citizens restricting government services only to U.S. citizens, but was struck down by activist judges.

The other side argues that the economic incentives are so great for Mexicans to migrate illegally to the U.S. Last month, the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, offered powerful ammunition to those skeptical of an enforcement-first solution. In a study, Princeton University sociologist Douglas S. Massey used government statistics and data from a Princeton project tracking Mexican migrants to argue that the big increase in U.S. enforcement spending over the last 20 years has been not only ineffective but also counterproductive.By toughening enforcement in the most frequently trafficked areas, Massey wrote, the U.S. has compelled illegal immigrants to cross in more remote locations. But that shift, he concluded, has failed to reduce the overall level of illegal entry and instead has triggered a series of unfavorable consequences. One is a rising death rate for migrants. Forcing Mexican migrants to cross in more remote areas has increased the amount they spend to reach America, Massey acknowledges. But in a final irony, he reports his data show that the average illegal immigrant now stays longer in the U.S., presumably in part to earn back the increased cost of their crossing.For Massey and others in this camp, changing the law is the key to enforcing it. It includes some measures to stiffen border security. Massey's research makes a powerful case that enforcement alone will never end illegal immigration. But a comprehensive attack on the problem probably won't pass Congress without more support for enforcement. Each side in this debate thus needs the other. Without a greater investment in enforcement, it probably won't be possible to modernize the immigration laws through an effective guest worker plan. But without modernized laws, a greater investment in enforcement probably won't yield much more control over the border.


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14 July, 2005 22:54  
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14 July, 2005 22:55  
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Profession: Students
Preferred Celebrity Status: Model
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Favorite Sport/Team: Basketball, baseball
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14 July, 2005 22:58  

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