Debates on U.S. Immigration


Edited by: Judith Gans, Elaine M. Replogle & Daniel J. Tichenor

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    About the Editors

    Judith Gans manages the immigration policy program at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona. Her areas of expertise include immigration and globalization, U.S. immigration policy, economics, and trade. The focus of her work is to provide conceptual frameworks for understanding the complexities of U.S. immigration policy rather than to advocate a particular policy position. She has written extensively on immigration including Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts and a Primer on U.S. Immigration in a Global Economy. She has a BA degree in economics from Stanford University, an MBA from UCLA's Graduate School of Management, and a master's in public administration from Harvard University. She has two grown children, was raised in Mexico and Brazil, and is fluent in Portuguese.

    Elaine M. Replogle teaches in the Sociology Department at the University of Oregon. Her research and publications have focused on the sociology of health and medicine, social inequality, and immigrant and second-generation social adjustment. She is author of Head Start as a Family Support Program: Renewing a Community Ethic (Harvard Family Research Project). She is currently working on a book on the intersection of mental health and intergenerational conflict among second-generation South Asian Americans (her dissertation research). Her work on mob violence toward women, adolescent health, patterns in smoking trajectories among black and white youth, and Head Start, has appeared in publications such as Sociological Forum, Evaluation Review, Children Today, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, and the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Aging.

    Daniel J. Tichenor is the Philip H. Knight Professor of Political Science and director of the Politics and Policy Program at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics at the University of Oregon. He has published extensively on immigration politics and policy, the American presidency, civil liberties, interest groups, social movements, political parties, and U.S. political history. He is the author of Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America, which won the American Political Science Association's Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book in American national policy. Other works include The Politics of International Migration and A History of the U.S. Political System, a three-volume set examining the development of American political thought, institutions, behavior, and public policy. He has been a Faculty Scholar at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University, Research Fellow in Governmental Studies at the Brookings Institution, Abba P. Schwartz Fellow in Immigration and Refugee Policy at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Research Scholar at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, a visiting scholar at Leipzig University, and a faculty associate at Princeton's Center for Migration and Development and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

    About the Contributors

    Francisco J. Alatorre is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. A graduate from Arizona State University, he also received a law degree in Mexico. He is currently researching immigration issues, specifically how immigration affects women and youth.

    Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes is an economics professor at San Diego State University, a research fellow at CReAM, FEDEA, and IZA, and an advisory committee member of the Americas Center Advisory Council at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Her areas of interest include labor economics, international migration, and international finance, and she has published on contingent work contracts, the informal work sector, immigrant saving, international remittances, and immigrant health care. Her work has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health, among other agencies.

    Cynthia Bansak is an associate professor of economics at St. Lawrence University, and she was an assistant professor at San Diego State University and an economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, prior to her current position. Her research interests are in labor economics and monetary policy, and she has published research on immigration policy, including the impact of employer sanctions, amnesty, border enforcement, and E-Verify on labor market outcomes. Her research has been funded by the National Poverty Center, the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

    Frank D. Bean is Chancellor's Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for Research on Immigration, Population, and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine. His latest book, The Diversity Paradox: Immigration and the Color Line in 21st Century America, won the 2011 American Sociological Association's Population Section Otis Dudley Duncan Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Social Demography.

    Sarah E. Bohn is an economist and fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. Her work focuses on issues at the intersection of public policy and labor markets, with particular attention to low-income and vulnerable populations. She has published research on the role of employment opportunities in the location choice of immigrants, the labor market impact of immigration and immigration enforcement, underground labor, income inequality, and poverty.

    Susan K. Brown is associate professor of sociology and an affiliate of the Center for Research on Immigration, Population, and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Beyond the Immigrant Enclave: Network Change and Assimilation (2004). Her research focuses on the incorporation of immigrants into the United States, residential segregation, and inequality of access to higher education.

    Philip Cafaro is a professor of philosophy at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and an affiliated faculty member of CSU's School of Global Ecological Sustainability. A former ranger with the U.S. National Park Service, his main research interests are in environmental ethics, consumption and population issues, and wildlands preservation. He is the author of Thoreau's Living Ethics and coeditor of the forthcoming anthology Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation, both from the University of Georgia Press.

    Trista R. Chaney is currently state and local counsel at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington, D.C. For 2 years prior to joining FAIR, she was employed as an attorney at the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). She has worked extensively in matters involving illegal immigration and its effects on United States citizens and legal residents. Trista has written on immigration topics for the IRLI Monthly Bulletin and IRLI Legal Manual. She was also an editor of the FAIR State and Local Guide to Action. Trista graduated from the University of Guelph in 2006 and earned her JD in 2008 from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. She has been a member of the Ohio Bar since 2009.

    Shinwoo Choi is with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    Carol L. Cleaveland is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at George Mason University. She has been engaged in qualitative research with Latino immigrants since 2004.

    Lillie Coney is associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a nonprofit civil society organization based in Washington, D.C. Ms. Coney's work includes civic participation with a focus on voting rights. She conducts privacy analyses of emerging technology, new business practices, and changes in government policy. Government issued ID requirements; civil rights privacy policy; body scanners; fusion centers; smart grid, civil society, and cyber-security policy; E-Verify; and Secure Communities are her contributions to EPIC's policy work. She leads EPIC's coalition efforts: Privacy Coalition (domestic) and the Public Voice Annual Meeting (international).

    Carolyn J. Craig specializes in comparative politics and women and politics. She holds a PhD, and her research has examined the politics of immigration reform in the United States, free trade in Central America, and gender and development throughout the Americas. She is collaborating with scholars based in the United States and Japan to establish an institute dedicated to the development and dissemination of research on citizen-based peace initiatives across the globe.

    Karen Manges Douglas is with Sam Houston State University.

    James R. Edwards Jr. is a Washington consultant with experience on Capitol Hill, where he served as U.S. Rep. Ed Bryant's legislative director and worked for other lawmakers. He coauthored The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform and is a fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies.

    Edward J. Erler is professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. He is the coauthor of The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration (2007).

    Walter A. Ewing is senior researcher at the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) of the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C. He writes about the economics of immigration, the relationship between immigration and crime, and the quest for “security” along the U.S.-Mexico border. He received his PhD in anthropology from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School in 1997.

    Alexandra Filindra is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a research associate with the Center for the Study of Human Development at Brown University. She received her PhD in political science from Rutgers University. Dr. Filindra's research focuses on immigration policy, race, federalism, and state-level policymaking. Her work has been published in several academic journals such as the Harvard Educational Review, Urban Affairs Review, and State Politics and Policy Quarterly.

    Marshall Fitz is director of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress. He holds a JD and BA from the University of Virginia, and prior to joining American Progress served as the director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

    Rodolfo O. de la Garza, Eaton Professor of Administrative Law and Municipal Science at Columbia University, is a specialist in Latino political participation, migration, and immigrant incorporation whose publications include 18 books of which he is coauthor or editor and articles in leading political science and policy analysis journals. He is also the author of Migration and Development: The Children Left Behind, a UNICEF report published in 2007–2008. He has published extensively on voting rights and has served as an expert witness in voting rights cases for over 30 years. He served as the vice president of the American Political Science Association and received the APSA's Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the study of Latino politics.

    Jack Glaser is an associate professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD in psychology from Yale University in 1999. Professor Glaser's primary research interest is intergroup bias, particularly implicit biases, as well as racial biases in criminal justice.

    Jeffrey L. Gower has a BS from Butler University; a JD from University of Akron; and a certificate from Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, University of Akron. He is a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow and a PhD candidate in geography, University at Buffalo–SUNY. He is the author of the article “As Dumb as We Wanna Be: U.S. H-1B Visa Policy and the ‘Brain Blocking’ of Asian Technology Professionals,” which appeared in Rutgers Race and the Law Review.

    David W. Haines is professor of anthropology at George Mason University and author of Cultural Anthropology: Adaptations, Structures, Meanings (2005), The Limits of Kinship: Vietnamese Households (2006), and Safe Haven? A History of Refugees in America (2010). He is also the editor or coeditor of several collected volumes on refugees and immigrants, including the forthcoming Wind Over Water: East Asian Migration (with Keiko Yamanaka and Shinji Yamashita).

    Ron Hayduk is a professor of political science at Queens College, CUNY. Hayduk has written about elections, social movements, immigration, and race, including Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States. Hayduk is cofounder of the Coalition to Expand Voting Rights (

    Marielena Hincapié is the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). She also is a frequent lecturer at national and international conferences addressing issues of migration and works closely with emerging leaders in the social justice movement. Hincapié began at NILC in 2000 as a staff attorney, then served as NILC's director of programs from 2004 and 2008. Before joining NILC, Hincapié worked for the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco's Employment Law Center, where she founded the Center's Immigrant Workers’ Rights Project. She holds a JD degree from Northeastern University School of Law, served on the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration, and is a member of the Jobs with Justice Board of Directors.

    Elizabeth Hull is professor of political science at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. She has written extensively on issues relating to immigration, including Without Justice for All: The Constitutional Rights of Aliens.

    Kristin Johnson is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island. Her recent published work focuses on state capacity, political violence, prospects for state building, and poverty and human development with a concentration on the developing world.

    Donald M. Kerwin Jr. directs the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), a New York–based educational institute devoted to the study of migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees, and newcomers. Prior to joining CMS, he served as vice president for programs at the Migration Policy Institute and as Executive Director at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. He also serves as a non resident senior fellow at MPI, an associate fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, a member of the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration, and a board member of the Border Network for Human Rights.

    David C. Koelsch is an associate professor and director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Immigration Law Clinic represents immigrants on a variety of legal issues, including abandoned immigrant children and abused immigrant women. Professor Koelsch also teaches U.S. and Canadian immigration law. He was named Outstanding Immigration Law Professor in 2009 by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

    Mark Krikorian has headed the Center for Immigration Studies since 1995. He holds a master's degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University, and spent 2 years at Yerevan State University in then-Soviet Armenia. Before joining the Center he held a variety of editorial and writing positions. He is one of the most frequently cited experts on immigration, and the author of The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal. His writing appears in major news and opinion outlets nationwide.

    Alida Y. Lasker is an associate at the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York and co-coordinator of the firm's pro bono immigration practice. Ms. Lasker received a JD, magna cum laude, from Brooklyn Law School, where she was the Executive Notes & Comments Editor of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, and received a bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from Columbia University. From 2008 to 2009, she served as law clerk to the Honorable Dolores K. Sloviter of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Ms. Lasker also serves as the law firm coordinator of the Asylum Representation Project, a 2011 initiative of the Leon Levy Foundation, Human Rights First, the Public Service Committee of the Federal Bar Council, and the Study Group on Immigrant Representation launched by the Honorable Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

    Anna O. Law is an associate professor of political science at DePaul University. She is also the author of The Immigration Battle in American Courts, published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. She teaches and conducts research in immigration law and policy and law and courts more broadly.

    Karey Leung is an instructor in the political science department at Rutgers University. Her research interests include race, gender, class, and religion in American politics and political philosophy.

    Calvin L. Lewis is associate dean for student affairs and diversity at Texas Tech University School of Law. Lewis joined the faculty at Tech Law in 2003 after 25 years of distinguished service in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps. In addition to performing his many administrative duties, he has taught immigration law, criminal law, and trial advocacy, and he has published in the areas of immigration law, criminal law, and military law.

    Andrew Light is director of the Center for Global Ethics and associate director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University. He is also a senior fellow and director of international climate policy at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, D.C. He has written over 80 scholarly articles and authored, coauthored, and edited 17 books including Environmental Pragmatism (1996), Technology and the Good Life? (2000), and Environmental Values (2008). In his policy career he is chief adviser on international environmental affairs to CAP's chairman, John Podesta, and leads CAP's work on bilateral and multilateral climate and energy agreements, most recently with a focus on climate finance.

    Nelson Lim is a senior social scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Lim serves as research director for the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, which is conducting a comprehensive evaluation and assessment of policies that provide opportunities for the promotion and advancement of minority members of the Armed Forces, including minority members who are senior officers. Lim received his PhD in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

    Andrew D. Linenberg is an associate attorney at Hinkle, Fingles & Prior, P.C., in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where he focuses his practice on special education litigation, guardianships, and other legal issues for individuals with disabilities and their families. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Linenberg was a private immigration practitioner who represented clients before various immigration courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Mr. Linenberg received his JD from Rutgers University School of Law–Camden and served in a prestigious clerkship with the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge for Mercer County Superior Court. Mr. Linenberg is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and is fluent in Spanish.

    Magnus Lofstrom is a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank located in San Francisco. He has a PhD in economics from the University of California, San Diego and his research interests include immigration, entrepreneurship, and education.

    John “Jack” L. Martin, a graduate of Lewis and Clark College (1961) in Portland, Oregon is a retired foreign service officer (1961–1989). He is also a graduate of the Armed Services Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia (1971–72). He has worked on immigration issues since 1992, first as research director at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., and since 1996 as special projects director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), also in Washington, D.C. His publications are numerous dating back to 1974 with a study on a Real Industrial Wage Index for Latin America in the Statistical Abstract for Latin America published by the UCLA University Press. FAIR recently published his study “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers.”

    Karin D. Martin is a PhD candidate in public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her MPP and MA in political science at UC Berkeley and an AB degree in psychology from Stanford University. Her research interests include attitudes about racial profiling, popular support for punitive crime policy, race in criminal sentencing, monetary sanctions, and multimethod research design. She is a fellow in the Center for Research on Social Change and was previously a Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies Fellow and a National Science Foundation–funded fellow in the Integrated Graduate Education Research and Training (IGERT) program in politics, economics, psychology, and public policy.

    Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, director of immigration and civic engagement at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), oversees the organization's work on immigration and efforts to expand Latino electoral participation and advocacy in public policy debates. She received her undergraduate degree from Occidental College and her master's degree from Harvard University and is a frequent commentator on the Latino electorate and immigration issues on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, Univision, Telemundo, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and other news outlets.

    Norman Matloff is a professor of computer science at the University of California, Davis. He was formerly a professor of statistics at that institution, before which he was a software developer in Silicon Valley. He is the author of numerous publications on computer science, statistics, and the H-1B issue, and is frequently quoted in the press on the latter.

    Carl Matthies is with the Vera Institute of Justice and earned a PhD in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School in 2011. He was the 2010 recipient of the PRGS Paul Volcker Award, given to fund research aimed at improving the effectiveness of civil service employees. His RAND research spans a variety of public safety topics including police recruitment, organized crime, and forensic DNA database policies.

    K.C. McAlpin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and has a master's degree in international management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. His early career spent working overseas and speaking foreign languages helped him appreciate the vital role that language fills in promoting empathy and understanding between peoples from different backgrounds. For 10 years he served as executive director of ProEnglish—a national organization that advocates for making English the official language of U.S. government operations—and today serves on its national board of directors.

    Kathryn Miller is a doctoral student of political science at the University of Oregon. She has a master's degree in political science from the University of Colorado, Denver. Miller studies language politics in the U.S. context and immigration, with an emphasis on gender issues and forced migration.

    Ali Noorani is the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, one of the nation's leading pro-immigrant advocacy organizations. Born in California, Noorani is the son of Pakistani immigrants and one of the few national leaders of Muslim heritage. Under Noorani's leadership since May 2008, the Forum is a powerful and key advocate on a range of immigration issues, working closely with business, law enforcement, and faith and civic leadership across the country to advance much needed reforms to our nation's immigration system.

    Morris I. Onyewuchi practices immigration law with a federal agency. He holds a master of studies in international human rights law from the University of Oxford, U.K.; a JD from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University; a mediation certificate from Harvard Law School, and a BA from Georgia State University. Onyewuchi has also taught immigration law as an adjunct law professor. In addition, he has trained local, state, and federal law enforcement officers in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in immigration, customs, civil rights, and constitutional laws.

    Maura Ooi is a law student at Georgetown University Law Center.

    Hye Joon Park is with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    Andrew J. Parr earned his PhD in educational leadership (K–12 school administration) from the University of Nevada, Reno. Parr currently works as an education programs professional for the Nevada Department of Education, Office of Assessments, Program Accountability, and Curriculum.

    Lissette M. Piedra is with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    Rosalie Pedalino Porter is best known for her influential Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual Education (1990 and 1996). Her newest book is American Immigrant: My Life in Three Languages (2011). Her professional career as teacher, administrator, researcher, advocate, and expert witness in court cases on education policy for non-English-speaking children spans 3 decades. She holds an EdD degree and is chairman of the board of ProEnglish in Washington, D.C.

    Ann Robertson is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. She has a doctorate in political science and master's in Russian and East European studies from George Washington University.

    Eric A. Ruark is the director of research for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). He has a background in intellectual history and legal theory, and the history of technology and society. He has published extensively on the impact of immigration on the American economy and environment, and he has provided testimony to the U.S. Senate.

    Jessica Saunders is a criminologist at the RAND Corporation. Her research projects include innovations in policing, immigration and crime, developmental criminology, criminal justice program evaluation, correctional education, and quantitative methods. Saunders received her PhD from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

    Peter H. Schuck is the Simeon E. Baldwin Professor Emeritus at Yale University, where he has taught since 1979. His many books and hundreds of articles include Meditations of a Militant Moderate: Cool Views on Hot Topics (2006) and Understanding America: The Anatomy of an Exceptional Nation (2008), coedited with James Q. Wilson.

    Melysa Sperber is an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School, where she teaches refugee and asylum law and public interest lawyering. She is a director of human rights at Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international women's organization based in Washington, D.C. In addition to managing a portfolio of overseas programming, she lobbies the federal government to strengthen policies and programs on violence against women. Prior to joining Vital Voices, she was a staff attorney at the Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit legal services agency that provides services to women fleeing gender-based persecution. Sperber handled a caseload of over 80 immigration matters involving domestic violence survivors, human trafficking victims, asylum seekers, and victims of violent crime.

    Winthrop R. Staples III is an endangered species biologist and environmental philosopher. He has conducted research and recovery efforts on lynx, coyote, the Amur leopard, and the American chestnut. Staples's work in environmental philosophy, “For a Species Right to Exist,” will be published in the anthology Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation.

    Madeleine Sumption is a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the analysis of the movement of people worldwide. Her recent publications include Policies to Curb Unauthorized Employment, Aligning Temporary Immigration Visas With US Labor Market Needs (coauthor), Migration and Immigrants Two Years After the Financial Collapse (BBC World Service and Migration Policy Institute, coeditor and author), Immigration and the Labor Market: Theory, Evidence and Policy (Equality and Human Rights Commission, coauthor), Migration and the Economic Downturn: What to Expect in the European Union (coauthor), and Social Networks and Polish Immigration to the UK (Institute for Public Policy Research).

    Roberto Suro is a professor of journalism and public policy at the University of Southern California and is director of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute. He is coeditor of Writing Immigration: Scholars and Journalists in Dialogue (2011) and author of Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives in a Changing America (1999), among many other publications on immigration.

    Matthew K. Tabor is the editor of, which provides daily coverage of K–12 and higher education worldwide, and Education Debate at OnlineSchools. His background includes work in higher education, executive recruiting and government, and he currently serves as CEO/president of Koala Fight Media, Inc. Tabor comments on education and politics at Education for the Aughts at He writes out of Cooperstown, New York.

    Nik Theodore is an associate professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to joining UIC he was a 1997–98 Atlantic Fellow in Public Policy at the University of Manchester and a researcher for the Chicago Urban League (1988–1997).

    Jessica M. Vaughan is director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. She has been with the center since 1992, and her area of expertise is the administration and implementation of immigration policy, covering topics such as visa programs, immigration benefits, and immigration law enforcement. She is frequently cited as an expert and is often invited to testify before Congress and state legislatures. Her writings have appeared in publications such as The Washington

    Post and Boston Globe. Prior to joining the center, she was a foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department. She has a master's degree from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree from Washington College in Maryland.

    Laura Vazquez is the immigration legislative analyst for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. She monitors immigration policy and conducts legislative and administrative advocacy in order to advance just and humane reforms to the current immigration system. Vazquez holds an MA in Latin American studies from the University of California, San Diego and a BA in political science and Spanish from Kenyon College.

    Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia is a professor at Penn State Law and the founder/director of Penn State's Center for Immigrants’ Rights. She researches the role of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law; the association between detention, removal, and due process; and the intersection between immigration, national security, and race. Prior to joining Penn State Law, she was deputy director for legal affairs at the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C., where she worked on issues surrounding the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and post-9/11 executive branch policies impacting immigrant communities. She serves on the ABA Commission on Immigration and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

    Michele Waslin is senior policy analyst at the Immigration Policy Center, a division of the American Immigration Council located in Washington, D.C. In her capacity, Waslin tracks and analyzes immigration policy and the immigration debate, writes articles on a multitude of immigration-related topics, coordinates the IPC research agenda and builds relationships with academics and other authors, provides technical assistance to organizations, conducts public education events, and maintains relationships with a wide array of national, state, and local advocacy organizations as well as federal agencies. She has authored several publications on immigration policy and post-9/11 immigration issues and appears regularly in English- and Spanish-language media. She received her PhD in 2002 in government and international studies from the University of Notre Dame.

    Philip E. Wolgin is immigration policy analyst at the Center for American Progress. He holds an MA and a PhD in American history from the University of California, Berkeley and a BA from New York University.

    Julie Myers Wood is a former federal prosecutor and former assistant secretary/director of immigration and customs enforcement. After leaving government, she founded ICS Consulting, LLC, a company that develops software and assists businesses in developing compliance solutions.

    Priscilla Yamin is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Oregon. Her areas of study include gender, race, and sexuality in American politics.


    Ours is a nation of immigrants. Yet while the lofty words enshrined with the Statue of Liberty stand as a source of national pride, the rhetoric and politics surrounding immigration policy have often proven far less lofty. In reality, the apparently open invitation of Lady Liberty seldom has been entirely without restriction, and each wave of newcomers has provoked anxiety among the general population. Throughout our history, impassioned debates—about who constitutes a “desirable” American, about whether to limit immigration and, if so, how to go about it—have emerged and mushroomed among politicians, scholars of public policy, and the public. The chapters in this volume aim to keep students, researchers, and other interested readers informed and up-to-date on the most contentious aspects of U.S. immigration policy. Introductory essays followed by Point–Counterpoint essays provide readers with views on multiple sides of this complex issue.

    This book is divided into three sections. The first section, on Political Debates, looks at public policy issues regarding who should become an American and who should not, as well as what to do about people who enter the country illegally. The next section, on Economic, Labor, and Demographic Debates, considers both positive and negative aspects of immigration on American finances, work lives, and environment. The final section, on Social and Cultural Debates, explores the impact that newcomers have had and continue to have on the proverbial American melting pot.

    In each of these sections, critical issues are considered in a Point–Counterpoint format. The editors of each section selected the debate topics with two main things in mind: to ensure that the general issues surrounding immigration are comprehensively discussed and to analyze the most contentious aspects of both legal and illegal immigration, in an effort to lay out the pros and cons in an analytical and objective manner.

    While the authors strongly make the case for each side, the Point and Counterpoint sections taken together will give the reader a well-rounded sense of the entire issue, allowing for an appreciation of both sides. It is possible that a reader might see the merits of the argument made on the Point side of the debate and then feel the same way about the Counterpoint. Often the validity of the conclusions of one side will not preclude the validity of those on the other—this represents just how complex and difficult these issues are to confront and solve. The goal is careful consideration of all aspects of immigration—from all perspectives.

    That said, it is worth pointing out that the authors do, indeed, have strong points of view. Nonetheless, some authors contributed both Point and Counterpoint sides of particular debates; they were willing and able to set those views aside momentarily to explore aspects of the debate with which they may not personally agree.

    The introductions to each chapter aim to introduce these conflicting points of view. Written in an effort to contextualize each debate, they help summarize the positions taken by the authors and indeed will offer readers a road map into the Point and Counterpoint essays. The introductions invoke considerations for readers to be alert to as they reason through the arguments presented in each chapter.

    The chapters are followed and supported by a documents Appendix, which presents key speeches, court findings, and testimonies that highlight critical ideas from the last century of immigration policy. It is meant to offer a mini-history of the milestones concerning immigration since the signing of the Immigration Act of 1924, which set the stage for immigration policy in the twentieth century.

  • Appendix: Documents Highlighting Key Moments in U.S. Immigration History, 1924 to 2011

    This appendix of documents is meant to give readers a brief overview of milestones in U.S. immigration policy over roughly the last century in U.S. history. Using politics as its lens, it distils the controversies and debates surrounding milestones in this history, including signing statements, political speeches, court opinions, and testimony

    Among the documents included are the text of Justice William Brennan's finding in the key Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe (1982) and the signing statement of Governor Jan Brewer at the signing of controversial Arizona law S.B. 1070 in 2010. You'll also find official testimony from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and from the National Council of La Raza—two major organizations involved in the immigration debate.

    The appendix also includes remarks from a number of U.S. presidents on immigration over the years. Interestingly, although the presidents hail from different periods and parties, many of their statements display a similar level of frustration about how to cope with the competing agendas surrounding immigration debates. From the reservations of President Calvin Coolidge at his signing of the Immigration Act of 1924 to President Harry Truman's transparently irritated veto of the McCarran-Walter Act, which he deemed “un-American;” from President George W. Bush's hopeful but doomed attempt to introduce reform in 2006, to President Barack Obama's 2011 assurance to El Paso voters that he will address immigration problems if given a second term, the documents Appendix demonstrates that even the leaders of the free world have long been vexed by the political complexities of American immigration.

    President Calvin Coolidge's Statement on Signing the Immigration Act of 1924

    The Immigration Act of 1924 set the quota for immigrants entering the United States at two percent of the total of any given nations residents in the United States as reported in the 1890 census. The law was intended to further restrict immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, from which people were emigrating in large numbers starting in the 1890s. It also aimed to curb immigration from Middle Eastern, East Asian, and Asian Indians. President Calvin Coolidge appended a statement to the bill upon signing it into law in which he expressed his disapproval of the bill's exclusion of Japanese immigrants.

    Washington, DC

    May 26, 1924

    In signing this bill, which in its main features I heartily approve, I regret the impossibility of severing from it the exclusion provision, which in the light of existing law affects especially the Japanese.

    I gladly recognize that the enactment of this provision does not imply any change in our sentiment of admiration and cordial friendship for the Japanese people, a sentiment which has had and will continue to have abundant manifestation.

    The bill rather expresses the determination of the Congress to exercise its prerogative in defining by legislation the control of immigration, instead of leaving it to international arrangements. It should be noted that the bill exempts from the exclusion provision Government officials, those coming to this country as tourists or temporarily for business or pleasure, those in transit, seamen, those already resident here and returning from temporary absences, professors, ministers of religion, students, and those who enter solely to carry on trade in pursuance of existing treaty provisions.

    But we have had for many years an understanding with Japan by which the Japanese Government has voluntarily undertaken to prevent the emigration of laborers to the U.S. and in view of this history relationship and of the feeling which inspired it would have been much better, in my judgment, and more effective in this actual control of immigration, if we had continued to invite that cooperation which Japan was ready to give and had thus avoided creating any ground for misapprehension by an unnecessary statutory enactment.

    Unnecessary and Deplorable

    That course would not have derogated from the authority of the Congress to deal with the question in any exigency requiring its action. There is scarcely any ground for disagreement as to the result we want, but this method of securing it is unnecessary and deplorable at this time.

    If the exclusion provision stood alone, I should disapprove it without hesitation, if sought in this way at this time. But this bill is comprehensive measure dealing with the whole subject of immigration and setting up the necessary administrative machinery. The present quota act of 1921 will terminate on June 30 next. It is of great importance that a comprehensive measure should take its place and that the arrangements for its administration should be provided at once to avoid hardship and confusion.

    I must therefore consider the bill as a whole and the imperative need of the country for legislation of this general character. For this reason, the bill is approved.

    Comments on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

    The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, also known as McCarran–Walter Act, for its sponsors Senator Pat McCarran (D-Nevada) and Congressman Francis Walter (D-Pennsylvania), liberalized immigration from Asia and also increased the government's power to deport immigrants or naturalized citizens engaged in subversive activities or suspected of having Communist sympathies. President Harry S. Truman vetoed the law, considering it discriminatory and “un-American.” His veto was overridden by a vote of 57 to 26 in the Senate and 278 to 113 in the House. Below are Truman's veto message followed by Senator McCarran's comments after the law's eventual passage.

    President Harry S. Truman's Veto Message

    June 25, 1952

    Today, we are protecting ourselves as we were in 1924, against being flooded by immigrants from Eastern Europe. This is fantastic…. We do not need to be protected against immigrants from these countries, on the contrary we want to stretch out a helping hand, to save those who have managed to flee into Western Europe, to succor those who are brave enough to escape from barbarism, to welcome and restore them against the day when their countries will, as we hope, be free again…. these are only a few examples of the absurdity, the cruelty of carrying over into this year of 1952 the isolationist limitations of our 1924 law. In no other realm of our national life are we so hampered and stultified by the dead hand of the past, as we are in this field of immigration.

    Senator Pat McCarran

    March 2, 1953

    I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. America is indeed a joining together of many streams which go to form a mighty river which we call the American way. However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States…. I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation's downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation.

    Source: Both documents retrieved from
    President Lyndon B. Johnson's Speech at the Signing of the Immigration Reform Act of 1965

    Known informally as the Hart–Celler Act, the law marked a radical shift in immigration policy, opening up immigration to foreigners from across the globe. Enacted during the height of the civil rights movement, it eliminated the so-called National Origins Formula that had been in place since the 1920s. The old quota system, which restricted immigration on the basis of national origin was replaced with two main criteria that continue to have resonance in our system today, emphasizing family reunification, on one hand, and the skill sets of would-be immigrants on the other. Although Hart–Celler was not perceived as a radical change in course—and indeed, Johnson downplays the significance of the policy shift in his speech—the law led to profound demographic changes in the make-up of the American body politic.

    Liberty Island, New York

    October 3, 1965

    Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Ambassador Goldberg, distinguished Members of the leadership of the Congress, distinguished Governors and mayors, my fellow countrymen:

    We have called the Congress here this afternoon not only to mark a very historic occasion, but to settle a very old issue that is in dispute. That issue is, to what congressional district does Liberty Island really belong—Congressman Farbstein or Congressman Gallagher? It will be settled by whoever of the two can walk first to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

    This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power.

    Yet it is still one of the most important acts of this Congress and of this administration.

    For it does repair a very deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice. It corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American Nation.

    Speaker McCormack and Congressman Celler almost 40 years ago first pointed that out in their maiden speeches in the Congress. And this measure that we will sign today will really make us truer to ourselves both as a country and as a people. It will strengthen us in a hundred unseen ways.

    I have come here to thank personally each Member of the Congress who labored so long and so valiantly to make this occasion come true today, and to make this bill a reality. I cannot mention all their names, for it would take much too long, but my gratitude—and that of this Nation—belongs to the 89th Congress.

    We are indebted, too, to the vision of the late beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and to the support given to this measure by the then Attorney General and now Senator, Robert F. Kennedy.

    In the final days of consideration, this bill had no more able champion than the present Attorney General, Nicholas Katzenbach, who, with New York's own “Manny” Celler, and Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, and Congressman Feighan of Ohio, and Senator Mansfield and Senator Dirksen constituting the leadership of the Senate, and Senator Javits, helped to guide this bill to passage, along with the help of the Members sitting in front of me today.

    This bill says simply that from this day forth those wishing to immigrate to America shall be admitted on the basis of their skills and their close relationship to those already here.

    This is a simple test, and it is a fair test. Those who can contribute most to this country—to its growth, to its strength, to its spirit—will be the first that are admitted to this land.

    The fairness of this standard is so self-evident that we may well wonder that it has not always been applied. Yet the fact is that for over four decades the immigration policy of the United States has been twisted and has been distorted by the harsh injustice of the national origins quota system.

    Under that system the ability of new immigrants to come to America depended upon the country of their birth. Only 3 countries were allowed to supply 70 percent of all the immigrants.

    Families were kept apart because a husband or a wife or a child had been born in the wrong place.

    Men of needed skill and talent were denied entrance because they came from southern or eastern Europe or from one of the developing continents.

    This system violated the basic principle of American democracy—the principle that values and rewards each man on the basis of his merit as a man.

    It has been un-American in the highest sense, because it has been untrue to the faith that brought thousands to these shores even before we were a country.

    Today, with my signature, this system is abolished.

    We can now believe that it will never again shadow the gate to the American Nation with the twin barriers of prejudice and privilege.

    Our beautiful America was built by a nation of strangers. From a hundred different places or more they have poured forth into an empty land, joining and blending in one mighty and irresistible tide.

    The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources—because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.

    And from this experience, almost unique in the history of nations, has come America's attitude toward the rest of the world. We, because of what we are, feel safer and stronger in a world as varied as the people who make it up—a world where no country rules another and all countries can deal with the basic problems of human dignity and deal with those problems in their own way.

    Now, under the monument which has welcomed so many to our shores, the American Nation returns to the finest of its traditions today.

    The days of unlimited immigration are past.

    But those who do come will come because of what they are, and not because of the land from which they sprung.

    When the earliest settlers poured into a wild continent there was no one to ask them where they came from. The only question was: Were they sturdy enough to make the journey, were they strong enough to clear the land, were they enduring enough to make a home for freedom, and were they brave enough to die for liberty if it became necessary to do so?

    And so it has been through all the great and testing moments of American history. Our history this year we see in Viet-Nam. Men there are dying—men named Fernandez and Zajac and Zelinko and Mariano and McCormick.

    Neither the enemy who killed them nor the people whose independence they have fought to save ever asked them where they or their parents came from. They were all Americans. It was for free men and for America that they gave their all, they gave their lives and selves.

    By eliminating that same question as a test for immigration the Congress proves ourselves worthy of those men and worthy of our own traditions as a Nation.

    Asylum for Cuban Refugees

    So it is in that spirit that I declare this afternoon to the people of Cuba that those who seek refuge here in America will find it. The dedication of America to our traditions as an asylum for the oppressed is going to be upheld.

    I have directed the Departments of State and Justice and Health, Education, and Welfare to immediately make all the necessary arrangements to permit those in Cuba who seek freedom to make an orderly entry into the United States of America.

    Our first concern will be with those Cubans who have been separated from their children and their parents and their husbands and their wives and that are now in this country. Our next concern is with those who are imprisoned for political reasons.

    And I will send to the Congress tomorrow a request for supplementary funds of $12,600,000 to carry forth the commitment that I am making today.

    I am asking the Department of State to seek through the Swiss Government immediately the agreement of the Cuban Government in a request to the President of the International Red Cross Committee. The request is for the assistance of the Committee in processing the movement of refugees from Cuba to Miami. Miami will serve as a port of entry and a temporary stopping place for refugees as they settle in other parts of this country.

    And to all the voluntary agencies in the United States, I appeal for their continuation and expansion of their magnificent work. Their help is needed in the reception and the settlement of those who choose to leave Cuba. The Federal Government will work closely with these agencies in their tasks of charity and brotherhood.

    I want all the people of this great land of ours to know of the really enormous contribution which the compassionate citizens of Florida have made to humanity and to decency. And all States in this Union can join with Florida now in extending the hand of helpfulness and humanity to our Cuban brothers.

    The lesson of our times is sharp and clear in this movement of people from one land to another. Once again, it stamps the mark of failure on a regime when many of its citizens voluntarily choose to leave the land of their birth for a more hopeful home in America. The future holds little hope for any government where the present holds no hope for the people.

    And so we Americans will welcome these Cuban people. For the tides of history run strong, and in another day they can return to their homeland to find it cleansed of terror and free from fear.

    Over my shoulders here you can see Ellis Island, whose vacant corridors echo today the joyous sound of long ago voices.

    And today we can all believe that the lamp of this grand old lady is brighter today—and the golden door that she guards gleams more brilliantly in the light of an increased liberty for the people from all the countries of the globe.

    Thank you very much.

    Supreme Court Opinion in Plyler v. Doe Delivered by Justice William J. Brennan Jr.

    One topic that continues to reassert itself in discussions about immigration policy is that of the education of undocumented immigrants. In the 1982 case of Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute that denied funding for education to illegal immigrant children (K–12) and that struck down a municipal school district's effort to force illegal immigrants to pay an annual $1,000 tuition fee for each illegal immigrant student as compensation for the loss of state funding. Opposition to this decision continues to be voiced by immigration restrictionists in the 21st century. Justice Brennan's opinion, presented below, explicates the Court's arguments based on the Equal Protection Clause; it also highlights the importance of education as a core American value, one that in the Court's view is critical to the assimilation of immigrants.

    Washington, DC

    June 15, 1982

    The question presented by these cases is whether, consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Texas may deny to undocumented school-age children the free public education that it provides to children who are citizens of the United States or legally admitted aliens.


    Since the late 19th century, the United States has restricted immigration into this country. Unsanctioned entry into the United States is a crime, and those who have entered unlawfully are subject to deportation. But despite the existence of these legal restrictions, a substantial number of persons have succeeded in unlawfully entering the United States, and now live within various States, including the State of Texas.

    In May, 1975, the Texas Legislature revised its education laws to withhold from local school districts any state funds for the education of children who were not “legally admitted” into the United States. The 1975 revision also authorized local school districts to deny enrollment in their public schools to children not “legally admitted” to the country. These cases involve constitutional challenges to those provisions.

    This is a class action, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in September, 1977, on behalf of certain school-age children of Mexican origin residing in Smith County, Tex., who could not establish that they had been legally admitted into the United States. The action complained of the exclusion of plaintiff children from the public schools of the Tyler Independent School District. The Superintendent and members of the Board of Trustees of the School District were named as defendants; the State of Texas intervened as a party-defendant. After certifying a class consisting of all undocumented school-age children of Mexican origin residing within the School District, the District Court preliminarily enjoined defendants from denying a free education to members of the plaintiff class. In December, 1977, the court conducted an extensive hearing on plaintiffs' motion for permanent injunctive relief.

    In considering this motion, the District Court made extensive findings of fact. The court found that neither § 21.031 nor the School District policy implementing it had “either the purpose or effect of keeping illegal aliens out of the State of Texas.” Respecting defendants' further claim that § 21.031 was simply a financial measure designed to avoid a drain on the State's fisc, the court recognized that the increases in population resulting from the immigration of Mexican nationals into the United States had created problems for the public schools of the State, and that these problems were exacerbated by the special educational needs of immigrant Mexican children. The court noted, however, that the increase in school enrollment was primarily attributable to the admission of children who were legal residents. It also found that, while the “exclusion of all undocumented children from the public schools in Texas would eventually result in economies at some level,” funding from both the State and Federal Governments was based primarily on the number of children enrolled. In net effect, then, barring undocumented children from the schools would save money, but it would “not necessarily” improve “the quality of education.” The court further observed that the impact of § 21.031 was borne primarily by a very small subclass of illegal aliens, “entire families who have migrated illegally and—for all practical purposes—permanently to the United States.” Finally, the court noted that, under current laws and practices, “the illegal alien of today may well be the legal alien of tomorrow,” and that, without an education, these undocumented children,

    [a]lready disadvantaged as a result of poverty, lack of English-speaking ability, and undeniable racial prejudices, … will become permanently locked into the lowest socio-economic class.

    The District Court held that illegal aliens were entitled to the protection of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that § 21.031 violated that Clause. Suggesting that

    the state's exclusion of undocumented children from its public schools … may well be the type of invidiously motivated state action for which the suspect classification doctrine was designed,

    the court held that it was unnecessary to decide whether the statute would survive a “strict scrutiny” analysis because, in any event, the discrimination embodied in the statute was not supported by a rational basis. The District Court also concluded that the Texas statute violated the Supremacy Clause.

    The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the District Court's injunction. The Court of Appeals held that the District Court had erred in finding the Texas statute preempted by federal law. With respect to equal protection, however, the Court of Appeals affirmed in all essential respects the analysis of the District Court, concluding that § 21.031 was “constitutionally infirm regardless of whether it was tested using the mere rational basis standard or some more stringent test.” We noted probable jurisdiction.

    No. 8194 in re Alien Children Education Litigation

    During 1978 and 1979, suits challenging the constitutionality of 21.031 and various local practices undertaken on the authority of that provision were filed in the United States District Courts for the Southern, Western, and Northern Districts of Texas. Each suit named the State of Texas and the Texas Education Agency as defendants, along with local officials. In November, 1979, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, on motion of the State, consolidated the claims against the state officials into a single action to be heard in the District Court for the Southern District of Texas. A hearing was conducted in February and March, 1980. In July, 1980, the court entered an opinion and order holding that § 21.031 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held that

    the absolute deprivation of education should trigger strict judicial scrutiny, particularly when the absolute deprivation is the result of complete inability to pay for the desired benefit.

    The court determined that the State's concern for fiscal integrity was not a compelling state interest, that exclusion of these children had not been shown to be necessary to improve education within the State, and that the educational needs of the children statutorily excluded were not different from the needs of children not excluded. The court therefore concluded that § 21.031 was not carefully tailored to advance the asserted state interest in an acceptable manner. While appeal of the District Court's decision was pending, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision in No. 80–1538. Apparently on the strength of that opinion, the Court of Appeals, on February 23, 1981, summarily affirmed the decision of the Southern District. We noted probable jurisdiction and consolidated this case with No. 80–1538 for briefing and argument.


    The Fourteenth Amendment provides that

    [n]o State shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [Emphasis added]

    Appellants argue at the outset that undocumented aliens, because of their immigration status, are not “persons within the jurisdiction” of the State of Texas, and that they therefore have no right to the equal protection of Texas law. We reject this argument. Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is surely a “person” in any ordinary sense of that term. Aliens, even aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful, have long been recognized as “persons” guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Indeed, we have clearly held that the Fifth Amendment protects aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful from invidious discrimination by the Federal Government.

    Appellants seek to distinguish our prior cases, emphasizing that the Equal Protection Clause directs a State to afford its protection to persons within its jurisdiction, while the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments contain no such assertedly limiting phrase. In appellants' view, persons who have entered the United States illegally are not “within the jurisdiction” of a State even if they are present within a State's boundaries and subject to its laws. Neither our cases nor the logic of the Fourteenth Amendment support that constricting construction of the phrase “within its jurisdiction.” We have never suggested that the class of persons who might avail themselves of the equal protection guarantee is less than coextensive with that entitled to due process. To the contrary, we have recognized that both provisions were fashioned to protect an identical class of persons, and to reach every exercise of state authority.

    The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens. It says:

    Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    These provisions are universal in their application, to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality, and the protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws. [Emphasis added]

    In concluding that “all persons within the territory of the United States,” including aliens unlawfully present, may invoke the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to challenge actions of the Federal Government, we reasoned from the understanding that the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to afford its protection to all within the boundaries of a State. Our cases applying the Equal Protection Clause reflect the same territorial theme:

    Manifestly, the obligation of the State to give the protection of equal laws can be performed only where its laws operate, that is, within its own jurisdiction. It is there that the equality of legal right must be maintained. That obligation is imposed by the Constitution upon the States severally as governmental entities, each responsible for its own laws establishing the rights and duties of persons within its borders. Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 350 (1938).

    There is simply no support for appellants' suggestion that “due process” is somehow of greater stature than “equal protection,” and therefore available to a larger class of persons. To the contrary, each aspect of the Fourteenth Amendment reflects an elementary limitation on state power. To permit a State to employ the phrase “within its jurisdiction” in order to identify subclasses of persons whom it would define as beyond its jurisdiction, thereby relieving itself of the obligation to assure that its laws are designed and applied equally to those persons, would undermine the principal purpose for which the Equal Protection Clause was incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment. The Equal Protection Clause was intended to work nothing less than the abolition of all caste-based and invidious class-based legislation. That objective is fundamentally at odds with the power the State asserts here to classify persons subject to its laws as nonetheless excepted from its protection.

    Although the congressional debate concerning § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment was limited, that debate clearly confirms the understanding that the phrase “within its jurisdiction” was intended in a broad sense to offer the guarantee of equal protection to all within a State's boundaries, and to all upon whom the State would impose the obligations of its laws. Indeed, it appears from those debates that Congress, by using the phrase “person within its jurisdiction,” sought expressly to ensure that the equal protection of the laws was provided to the alien population. Representative Bingham reported to the House the draft resolution of the Joint Committee of Fifteen on Reconstruction (H.R. 63) that was to become the Fourteenth Amendment. Two days later, Bingham posed the following question in support of the resolution:

    Is it not essential to the unity of the people that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States? Is it not essential to the unity of the Government and the unity of the people that all persons, whether citizens or strangers, within this land, shall have equal protection in every State in this Union in the rights of life and liberty and property?

    Senator Howard, also a member of the Joint Committee of Fifteen, and the floor manager of the Amendment in the Senate, was no less explicit about the broad objectives of the Amendment, and the intention to make its provisions applicable to all who “may happen to be” within the jurisdiction of a State:

    The last two clauses of the first section of the amendment disable a State from depriving not merely a citizen of the United States, but any person, whoever he may be, of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or from denying to him the equal protection of the laws of the State. This abolishes all class legislation in the States and does away with the injustice of subjecting one caste of persons to a code not applicable to another…. It will, if adopted by the States, forever disable every one of them from passing laws trenching upon those fundamental rights and privileges which pertain to citizens of the United States, and to all person who may happen to be within their jurisdiction. [Emphasis added]

    Use of the phrase “within its jurisdiction” thus does not detract from, but rather confirms, the understanding that the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment extends to anyone, citizen or stranger, who is subject to the laws of a State, and reaches into every corner of a State's territory. That a person's initial entry into a State, or into the United States, was unlawful, and that he may for that reason be expelled, cannot negate the simple fact of his presence within the State's territorial perimeter. Given such presence, he is subject to the full range of obligations imposed by the State's civil and criminal laws. And until he leaves the jurisdiction—either voluntarily, or involuntarily in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the United States—he is entitled to the equal protection of the laws that a State may choose to establish.

    Our conclusion that the illegal aliens who are plaintiffs in these cases may claim the benefit of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection only begins the inquiry. The more difficult question is whether the Equal Protection Clause has been violated by the refusal of the State of Texas to reimburse local school boards for the education of children who cannot demonstrate that their presence within the United States is lawful, or by the imposition by those school boards of the burden of tuition on those children. It is to this question that we now turn.


    The Equal Protection Clause directs that “all persons similarly circumstanced shall be treated alike.” But so too, “[t]he Constitution does not require things which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same.” The initial discretion to determine what is “different” and what is “the same” resides in the legislatures of the States. A legislature must have substantial latitude to establish classifications that roughly approximate the nature of the problem perceived, that accommodate competing concerns both public and private, and that account for limitations on the practical ability of the State to remedy every ill. In applying the Equal Protection Clause to most forms of state action, we thus seek only the assurance that the classification at issue bears some fair relationship to a legitimate public purpose.

    But we would not be faithful to our obligations under the Fourteenth Amendment if we applied so deferential a standard to every classification. The Equal Protection Clause was intended as a restriction on state legislative action inconsistent with elemental constitutional premises. Thus, we have treated as presumptively invidious those classifications that disadvantage a “suspect class,” or that impinge upon the exercise of a “fundamental right.” With respect to such classifications, it is appropriate to enforce the mandate of equal protection by requiring the State to demonstrate that its classification has been precisely tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest. In addition, we have recognized that certain forms of legislative classification, while not facially invidious, nonetheless give rise to recurring constitutional difficulties; in these limited circumstances, we have sought the assurance that the classification reflects a reasoned judgment consistent with the ideal of equal protection by inquiring whether it may fairly be viewed as furthering a substantial interest of the State. We turn to a consideration of the standard appropriate for the evaluation of § 21.031.


    Sheer incapability or lax enforcement of the laws barring entry into this country, coupled with the failure to establish an effective bar to the employment of undocumented aliens, has resulted in the creation of a substantial “shadow population” of illegal migrants—numbering in the millions—within our borders. This situation raises the specter of a permanent caste of undocumented resident aliens, encouraged by some to remain here as a source of cheap labor, but nevertheless denied the benefits that our society makes available to citizens and lawful residents. The existence of such an underclass presents most difficult problems for a Nation that prides itself on adherence to principles of equality under law.

    The children who are plaintiffs in these cases are special members of this underclass. Persuasive arguments support the view that a State may withhold its beneficence from those whose very presence within the United States is the product of their own unlawful conduct. These arguments do not apply with the same force to classifications imposing disabilities on the minor children of such illegal entrants. At the least, those who elect to enter our territory by stealth and in violation of our law should be prepared to bear the consequences, including, but not limited to, deportation. But the children of those illegal entrants are not comparably situated. Their “parents have the ability to conform their conduct to societal norms,” and presumably the ability to remove themselves from the State's jurisdiction; but the children who are plaintiffs in these cases “can affect neither their parents' conduct nor their own status.” Even if the State found it expedient to control the conduct of adults by acting against their children, legislation directing the onus of a parent's misconduct against his children does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice.

    [V]isiting … condemnation on the head of an infant is illogical and unjust. Moreover, imposing disabilities on the … child is contrary to the basic concept of our system that legal burdens should bear some relationship to individual responsibility or wrongdoing. Obviously, no child is responsible for his birth, and penalizing the … child is an ineffectual—as well as unjust—way of deterring the parent. Weber v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 406 U.S. 164, 175 (1972)

    Of course, undocumented status is not irrelevant to any proper legislative goal. Nor is undocumented status an absolutely immutable characteristic, since it is the product of conscious, indeed unlawful, action. But § 21.031 is directed against children, and imposes its discriminatory burden on the basis of a legal characteristic over which children can have little control. It is thus difficult to conceive of a rational justification for penalizing these children for their presence within the United States. Yet that appears to be precisely the effect of § 21.031.

    Public education is not a “right” granted to individuals by the Constitution. But neither is it merely some governmental “benefit” indistinguishable from other forms of social welfare legislation. Both the importance of education in maintaining our basic institutions and the lasting impact of its deprivation on the life of the child mark the distinction. The “American people have always regarded education and [the] acquisition of knowledge as matters of supreme importance.” We have recognized “the public schools as a most vital civic institution for the preservation of a democratic system of government.” We have recognized “the public schools as a most vital civic institution for the preservation of a democratic system of government,” and as the primary vehicle for transmitting “the values on which our society rests,” and as the primary vehicle for transmitting “the values on which our society rests.”

    [A]s … pointed out early in our history, … some degree of education is necessary to prepare citizens to participate effectively and intelligently in our open political system if we are to preserve freedom and independence. Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 221 (1972)

    And these historic

    perceptions of the public schools as inculcating fundamental values necessary to the maintenance of a democratic political system have been confirmed by the observations of social scientists. Ambach v. Norwick, 441 U.S. 68, 76 (1979)

    In addition, education provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all. In sum, education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society. We cannot ignore the significant social costs borne by our Nation when select groups are denied the means to absorb the values and skills upon which our social order rests.

    In addition to the pivotal role of education in sustaining our political and cultural heritage, denial of education to some isolated group of children poses an affront to one of the goals of the Equal Protection Clause: the abolition of governmental barriers presenting unreasonable obstacles to advancement on the basis of individual merit. Paradoxically, by depriving the children of any disfavored group of an education, we foreclose the means by which that group might raise the level of esteem in which it is held by the majority. But more directly, “education prepares individuals to be self-reliant and self-sufficient participants in society.” Illiteracy is an enduring disability. The inability to read and write will handicap the individual deprived of a basic education each and every day of his life. The inestimable toll of that deprivation on the social, economic, intellectual, and psychological wellbeing of the individual, and the obstacle it poses to individual achievement, make it most difficult to reconcile the cost or the principle of a status-based denial of basic education with the framework of equality embodied in the Equal Protection Clause…. What we said 28 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education, (1954), still holds true:

    Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.


    These well-settled principles allow us to determine the proper level of deference to be afforded § 21.031. Undocumented aliens cannot be treated as a suspect class, because their presence in this country in violation of federal law is not a “constitutional irrelevancy.” Nor is education a fundamental right; a State need not justify by compelling necessity every variation in the manner in which education is provided to its population. But more is involved in these cases than the abstract question whether § 21.031 discriminates against a suspect class, or whether education is a fundamental right. Section 21.031 imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status. The stigma of illiteracy will mark them for the rest of their lives. By denying these children a basic education, we deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions, and foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation. In determining the rationality of § 21.031, we may appropriately take into account its costs to the Nation and to the innocent children who are its victims. In light of these countervailing costs, the discrimination contained in § 21.031 can hardly be considered rational unless it furthers some substantial goal of the State.


    It is the State's principal argument, and apparently the view of the dissenting Justices, that the undocumented status of these children vel non establishes a sufficient rational basis for denying them benefits that a State might choose to afford other residents. The State notes that, while other aliens are admitted “on an equality of legal privileges with all citizens under nondiscriminatory laws,” the asserted right of these children to an education can claim no implicit congressional imprimatur. Indeed, in the State's view, Congress' apparent disapproval of the presence of these children within the United States, and the evasion of the federal regulatory program that is the mark of undocumented status, provides authority for its decision to impose upon them special disabilities. Faced with an equal protection challenge respecting the treatment of aliens, we agree that the courts must be attentive to congressional policy; the exercise of congressional power might well affect the State's prerogatives to afford differential treatment to a particular class of aliens. But we are unable to find in the congressional immigration scheme any statement of policy that might weigh significantly in arriving at an equal protection balance concerning the State's authority to deprive these children of an education.

    The Constitution grants Congress the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Drawing upon this power, upon its plenary authority with respect to foreign relations and international commerce, and upon the inherent power of a sovereign to close its borders, Congress has developed a complex scheme governing admission to our Nation and status within our borders. The obvious need for delicate policy judgments has counseled the Judicial Branch to avoid intrusion into this field. But this traditional caution does not persuade us that unusual deference must be shown the classification embodied in § 21.031. The States enjoy no power with respect to the classification of aliens. This power is “committed to the political branches of the Federal Government.” Although it is “a routine and normally legitimate part” of the business of the Federal Government to classify on the basis of alien status, and to “take into account the character of the relationship between the alien and this country,” only rarely are such matters relevant to legislation by a State.

    As we recognized in De Canas v. Bica, the States do have some authority to act with respect to illegal aliens, at least where such action mirrors federal objectives and furthers a legitimate state goal. In De Canas, the State's program reflected Congress' intention to bar from employment all aliens except those possessing a grant of permission to work in this country. In contrast, there is no indication that the disability imposed by § 21.031 corresponds to any identifiable congressional policy. The State does not claim that the conservation of state educational resources was ever a congressional concern in restricting immigration. More importantly, the classification reflected in § 21.031 does not operate harmoniously within the federal program.

    To be sure, like all persons who have entered the United States unlawfully, these children are subject to deportation. But there is no assurance that a child subject to deportation will ever be deported. An illegal entrant might be granted federal permission to continue to reside in this country, or even to become a citizen. In light of the discretionary federal power to grant relief from deportation, a State cannot realistically determine that any particular undocumented child will in fact be deported until after deportation proceedings have been completed. It would, of course, be most difficult for the State to justify a denial of education to a child enjoying an inchoate federal permission to remain.

    We are reluctant to impute to Congress the intention to withhold from these children, for so long as they are present in this country through no fault of their own, access to a basic education. In other contexts, undocumented status, coupled with some articulable federal policy, might enhance state authority with respect to the treatment of undocumented aliens. But in the area of special constitutional sensitivity presented by these cases, and in the absence of any contrary indication fairly discernible in the present legislative record, we perceive no national policy that supports the State in denying these children an elementary education. The State may borrow the federal classification. But to justify its use as a criterion for its own discriminatory policy, the State must demonstrate that the classification is reasonably adapted to “the purposes for which the state desires to use it.” (emphasis added). We therefore turn to the state objectives that are said to support § 21.031.


    Appellants argue that the classification at issue furthers an interest in the “preservation of the state's limited resources for the education of its lawful residents.” Of course, a concern for the preservation of resources, standing alone, can hardly justify the classification used in allocating those resources. The State must do more than justify its classification with a concise expression of an intention to discriminate. Apart from the asserted state prerogative to act against undocumented children solely on the basis of their undocumented status—an asserted prerogative that carries only minimal force in the circumstances of these cases—we discern three colorable state interests that might support § 21.031.

    First, appellants appear to suggest that the State may seek to protect itself from an influx of illegal immigrants. While a State might have an interest in mitigating the potentially harsh economic effects of sudden shifts in population, § 21.031 hardly offers an effective method of dealing with an urgent demographic or economic problem. There is no evidence in the record suggesting that illegal entrants impose any significant burden on the State's economy. To the contrary, the available evidence suggests that illegal aliens underutilize public services, while contributing their labor to the local economy and tax money to the state fisc. The dominant incentive for illegal entry into the State of Texas is the availability of employment; few if any illegal immigrants come to this country, or presumably to the State of Texas, in order to avail themselves of a free education. Thus, even making the doubtful assumption that the net impact of illegal aliens on the economy of the State is negative, we think it clear that “[c]harging tuition to undocumented children constitutes a ludicrously ineffectual attempt to stem the tide of illegal immigration,” at least when compared with the alternative of prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens.

    Second, while it is apparent that a State may “not … reduce expenditures for education by barring [some arbitrarily chosen class of] children from its schools,” appellants suggest that undocumented children are appropriately singled out for exclusion because of the special burdens they impose on the State's ability to provide high-quality public education. But the record in no way supports the claim that exclusion of undocumented children is likely to improve the overall quality of education in the State. As the District Court in No. 801934 noted, the State failed to offer any

    credible supporting evidence that a proportionately small diminution of the funds spent on each child [which might result from devoting some state funds to the education of the excluded group] will have a grave impact on the quality of education.

    And, after reviewing the State's school financing mechanism, the District Court in No. 80-1538 concluded that barring undocumented children from local schools would not necessarily improve the quality of education provided in those schools. Of course, even if improvement in the quality of education were a likely result of barring some number of children from the schools of the State, the State must support its selection of this group as the appropriate target for exclusion. In terms of educational cost and need, however, undocumented children are “basically indistinguishable” from legally resident alien children.

    Finally, appellants suggest that undocumented children are appropriately singled out because their unlawful presence within the United States renders them less likely than other children to remain within the boundaries of the State, and to put their education to productive social or political use within the State. Even assuming that such an interest is legitimate, it is an interest that is most difficult to quantify. The State has no assurance that any child, citizen or not, will employ the education provided by the State within the confines of the State's borders. In any event, the record is clear that many of the undocumented children disabled by this classification will remain in this country indefinitely, and that some will become lawful residents or citizens of the United States. It is difficult to understand precisely what the State hopes to achieve by promoting the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime. It is thus clear that whatever savings might be achieved by denying these children an education, they are wholly insubstantial in light of the costs involved to these children, the State, and the Nation.


    If the State is to deny a discrete group of innocent children the free public education that it offers to other children residing within its borders, that denial must be justified by a showing that it furthers some substantial state interest. No such showing was made here. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals in each of these cases is


    President Ronald Reagan's Statement on Signing the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

    President Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) after several years of intense congressional debate. It introduced the most extensive changes to U.S. immigration policy since the Hart-Cellar Act of 1965 and contained two major provisions: The first offered amnesty and the opportunity to obtain legal permanent residency to individuals who could prove they had lived in the United States since 1982 or earlier. The second imposed criminal penalties on employers knowingly hiring illegal immigrants (though there was lax enforcement of these employer sanctions). The IRCA proved controversial among both those opposed to illegal immigration worried about “rewarding” those who break the law and those civil rights organizations concerned about possible discrimination against Hispanic applicants for jobs. The IRCA's implementation failures helped fuel the dramatic expansion of illegal immigration in the ensuing decades.

    Washington, DC

    November 6, 1986

    The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 is the most comprehensive reform of our immigration laws since 1952. In the past 35 years our nation has been increasingly affected by illegal immigration. This legislation takes a major step toward meeting this challenge to our sovereignty. At the same time, it preserves and enhances the Nation's heritage of legal immigration. I am pleased to sign the bill into law.

    In 1981 this administration asked the Congress to pass a comprehensive legislative package, including employer sanctions, other measures to increase enforcement of the immigration laws, and legalization. The act provides these three essential components. The employer sanctions program is the keystone and major element. It will remove the incentive for illegal immigration by eliminating the job opportunities which draw illegal aliens here. We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.

    Section 102(a) of the bill adds section 274B to the Immigration and Nationality Act. This new section relates to certain kinds of discrimination in connection with employment in the United States. Section 274B(a) provides that it is an “unfair immigration-related employment practice” to “discriminate against” any individual in hiring, recruitment or referral for a fee, or discharging from employment “because of” such individual's national origin or—if such individual is a United States citizen or an alien who is a lawful permanent resident, refugee admitted under INA section 207, or asylee granted asylum under section 208, and who has taken certain steps evidencing an intent to become a United States citizen—because of such individual's citizenship status. Employers of fewer than four employees are expressly exempted from coverage. Discrimination against an “unauthorized alien,” as defined in section 274A(h) (3), is also not covered. Other exceptions include cases of discrimination because of national origin that are covered by title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination based on citizenship status when lawfully required under government authority, and discrimination in favor of a United States citizen over an alien if the citizen is at least “equally qualified.”

    The major purpose of section 274B is to reduce the possibility that employer sanctions will result in increased national origin and alienage discrimination and to provide a remedy if employer sanctions enforcement does have this result. Accordingly, subsection (k) provides that the section will not apply to any discrimination that takes place after a repeal of employer sanctions if this should occur. In the light of this major purpose, the Special Counsel should exercise the discretion provided under subsection (d)(1) so as to limit the investigations conducted on his own initiative to cases involving discrimination apparently caused by an employer's fear of liability under the employer sanctions program.

    I understand section 274B to require a “discriminatory intent” standard of proof: The party bringing the action must show that in the decisionmaking process the defendant's action was motivated by one of the prohibited criteria. Thus, it would be improper to use the “disparate impact” theory of recovery, which was developed under paragraph (2) of section 703(a) of title VII, in a line of Supreme Court cases over the last 15 years. This paragraph of title VII does not have a counterpart in section 274B. Section 274B tracks only the language of paragraph (1) of section 703(a), the basis of the “disparate treatment” (discriminatory intent) theory of recovery under title VII. Moreover, paragraph (d)(2) refers to “knowing an intentional discrimination” and “a pattern or practice of discriminatory activity.” The meaning of the former phrase is self-evident, while the latter is taken from the Supreme Court's disparate treatment jurisprudence and thus includes the requirement of a discriminatory intent.

    Thus, a facially neutral employee selection practice that is employed without discriminatory intent will be permissible under the provisions of section 274B. For example, the section does not preclude a requirement of English language skill or a minimum score on an aptitude test even if the employer cannot show a “manifest relationship” to the job in question or that the requirement is a “bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise,” so long as the practice is not a guise used to discriminate on account of national origin or citizenship status. Indeed, unless the plaintiff presents evidence that the employer has intentionally discriminated on proscribed grounds, the employer need not offer any explanation for his employee selection procedures.

    Section 274B(c) provides that the President shall appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, a Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices within the Justice Department, to serve for a term of 4 years. I understand this subsection to provide that the Special Counsel shall serve at the pleasure and with the policy guidance of the President, but for no longer than for a 4-year term (subject to reappointment by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate).

    In accordance with the provisions of section 274B(h) and (j)(4), a requirement to pay attorneys' fees may be imposed against nonprevailing parties—including alleged victims or persons who file on their behalf as well as employers—if claims or defenses are made that do not have a reasonable foundation in both law and fact. The same standard for the imposing of attorneys' fees applies to all nonprevailing parties. It is therefore expected that prevailing defendants would recover attorneys' fees in all cases for which this standard is satisfied, not merely in cases where the claim of the victim or person filing on their behalf is found to be vexatious or frivolous.

    The provisions of new INA section 245A(a)(4)(B) and (b)(1)(C)(ii), added by section 201(a) of the bill, state that no alien would qualify for the lawful temporary or the permanent residence status provided in that section if he or she has been convicted of any felony or three or more misdemeanors committed in the United States.

    New INA section 245A(d)(2) states that no alien would qualify for the lawful temporary or permanent residence status provided in that section if “likely to become [a] public charge [].” This disqualification could be waived by the Attorney General under certain circumstances. A likelihood that an applicant would become a public charge would exist, for example, if the applicant had failed to demonstrate either a history of employment in the United States of a kind that would provide sufficient means without public cash assistance for the support of the alien and his likely dependents who are not United States citizens or the possession of independent means sufficient by itself for such support for an indefinite period.

    New INA section 245A(a)(3) requires that an applicant for legalization establish that he has been “continuously physically present in the United States since the date of the enactment” but states that “brief, casual, and innocent absences from the United States” will not be considered a break in the required continuous physical presence. To the extent that the INS has made available a procedure by which aliens can obtain permission to depart and reenter the United States after a brief, casual, and innocent absence by establishing a prima facie case of eligibility for adjustment of status under this section, I understand section 245A(a)(3) to require that an unauthorized departure and illegal reentry will constitute a break in “continuous physical presence.”

    New INA section 210(d), added by section 302(a) of the bill, provides that an alien who is “apprehended” before or during the application period for adjustment of status for certain “special agricultural workers,” may not under certain circumstances related to the establishment of a nonfrivolous case of eligibility for such adjustment of status be excluded or deported. I understand this subsection not to authorize any alien to apply for admission to or to be admitted to the United States in order to apply for adjustment of status under this section. Aliens outside the United States may apply for adjustment of status under this section at an appropriate consular office outside the United States pursuant to the procedures established by the Attorney General, in cooperation with the Secretary of State, as provided in section 210(b)(1)(B).

    Section 304 of the bill establishes the Commission on Agricultural Workers, half of whose 12 members are appointed by the executive branch and half by the legislative branch. This hybrid Commission is not consistent with constitutional separation of powers. However, the Commission's role will be entirely advisory.

    Section 304(g) provides that upon request of the Commission's Chairman, the head of “any department or agency of the United States” must supply “information necessary to enable it to carry out [the] section.” Although I expect that the executive branch will cooperate closely with the Commission, its access to executive branch information will be limited in accordance with established principles of law, including the constitutional separation of powers.

    Section 601 establishes a Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development, all of whose members are appointed by the legislative branch. Section 601(d)(1) states that the access to executive branch information required under section 304(g) must be provided to this Commission also. Accordingly, the comments of the preceding paragraph are appropriate here as well.

    New INA section 274A(a)(5) provides that a person or entity shall be deemed in compliance with the employment verification system in the case of an individual who is referred for employment by a State employment agency if that person or entity retains documentation of such referral certifying that the agency complied with the verification system with respect to the individual referred. I understand this provision not to mandate State employment agencies to issue referral documents certifying compliance with the verification system or to impose any additional affirmative duty or obligation on the offices or personnel of such agencies.

    Distance has not discouraged illegal immigration to the United States from all around the globe. The problem of illegal immigration should not, therefore, be seen as a problem between the United States and its neighbors. Our objective is only to establish a reasonable, fair, orderly, and secure system of immigration into this country and not to discriminate in any way against particular nations or people.

    The act I am signing today is the product of one of the longest and most difficult legislative undertakings of recent memory. It has truly been a bipartisan effort, with this administration and the allies of immigration reform in the Congress, of both parties, working together to accomplish these critically important reforms. Future generations of Americans will be thankful for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people: American citizenship.

    Introduction to Becoming an American: Immigration and Immigrant Policy

    The bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform was mandated by Section 141 of the Immigration Act of 1990 to review and evaluate the implementation and impact of U.S. immigration policy. The final recommendations were presented to Congress and President Clinton in 1997. The Commission examined provisions of the act related to family reunification, employment-based immigration, and the program to ensure diversity for the sources of U.S. immigration. It also examined: the efficacy of efforts to curb illegal immigration; the influence of immigration on labor needs, employment, and other economic and domestic conditions in the United States; the impact on social, demographic, and natural resources; and its effect on the foreign policy and national security interests of the country.

    Report to Congress by U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform

    September 1997

    Immigration and immigration policy is about immigrants, their families and the rest of us. It is about the meaning of American nationality and the foundation of national unity. It is about uniting persons from all over the world in a common civic culture.

    The process of becoming an American is most simply called “Americanization,” which must always be a two-way street. All Americans, not just immigrants, should understand the importance of our shared civic culture to our national community. This final report of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform makes recommendations to further the goals of Americanization by setting out immigrant policies to help orient immigrants and their new communities, to improve educational programs that help immigrants and their children learn English and civics, and to reinforce the integrity of the naturalization process through which immigrants become U.S. citizens.

    This report also makes recommendations regarding immigration policy. It reiterates and updates the conclusions we reached in three interim reports—on unlawful migration, legal immigration, and refugee and asylum policy—and makes additional recommendations for reforming immigration policies. Further, in this report, the Commission recommends ways to improve the structure and management of the federal agencies responsible for achieving the goals of immigration policy. It is our hope that this final report Becoming An American: Immigration and Immigrant Policy, along with our three interim reports, constitutes a full response to the work assigned the Commission by Congress: to assess the national interest in immigration and report how it can best be achieved.

    Mandate and Methods

    Public Law 101–649, the Immigration Act of 1990 [IMMACT], established this Commission to review and evaluate the impact of immigration policy. More specifically, the Commission must report on immigration's impact on: the need for labor and skills; employment and other aspects of the economy; social, demographic, and environmental conditions; and the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States. The Commission engaged in a wide variety of fact-finding activities to fulfill this mandate. Site visits were conducted throughout the United States. Commission members visited immigrant and refugee communities in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Arizona, Washington, Kansas, Virginia, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Some Commission and staff members also visited such major source countries as Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, and the Philippines. To increase our understanding of international refugee policy issues, members and staff of the Commission visited Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, and Kenya, and consulted with Geneva-based officials from the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration. We held more than forty public hearings, consultations with government and private sector officials, and expert roundtable discussions.

    Today's Immigrants

    The effects of immigration are numerous, complex, and varied. Immigrants contribute in many ways to the United States: to its vibrant and diverse communities; to its lively and participatory democracy; to its vital intellectual and cultural life; to its renowned job-creating entrepreneurship and marketplaces; and to its family values and hard-work ethic. However, there are costs as well as benefits from today's immigration. Those workers most at risk in our restructuring economy—low-skilled workers in production and service jobs—are those who directly compete with today's low-skilled immigrants. Further, immigration presents special challenges to certain states and local communities that disproportionately bear the fiscal and other costs of incorporating newcomers.

    Characteristics of Immigrants

    In FY 1996 (the last year for which data are available), more than 900,000 immigrants came to the United States from 206 nations, for a variety of reasons and with a diverse set of personal characteristics. Not surprisingly, the characteristics of immigrants from different sending countries vary, as do their effects on the U.S. There are also differences between immigrants admitted under different classes of admission. These differences generally reflect the statutory provisions that guide admissions.

    Places of Origin. Asia and North America (i.e., Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Central America) remain the sending regions with the largest share of immigrants. Mexico remains the largest sending country and its share of total legal immigrants to the U.S. increased from an average of 12 percent in the 1980s to more than 13 percent in FY 1994 and up to 18 percent in FY 1996. The effects of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 [IRCA], which resulted in the legalization of about two million formerly illegal Mexican residents, explains this trend. Even though the special admission category for the spouses of legalized aliens' dependents has been discontinued, Mexico benefits from the IMMACT's removal of per-country limits on the numerically limited spouse and children class of admission (FB-2A).

    IMMACT established a transitional and a permanent “diversity” category for countries whose admission numbers were adversely affected by the Immigration Act of 1965. The transitional program was in effect from FY 1992 to 1994, but unused visas were carried over through FY 1996. The permanent program went into effect in FY 1995. European countries benefited the most from the transitional program, which mandated that as many as 40 percent of the visas could go to nationals of Ireland. Actual Irish admissions reached only 35 percent, with Polish immigrants accounting for an even larger share (38 percent). Under the permanent diversity program, 42 percent of the immigrants came from European countries and 35 percent came from Africa. The effect on African admissions is particularly noteworthy as Africans account for less than 1 percent of immigrants in other admission categories.

    Intended U.S. Destinations. Immigrants in FY 1996 continue to select just a few states as their destinations. About two-thirds intend to reside in California, New York, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey. One-quarter of admissions are to California alone with another one-seventh to New York. New York City retains its place as the pre-eminent immigrant city with 15 percent of immigrants intending to go there. About 7 percent of immigrants intend to go to Los Angeles, and Miami and Chicago are in third place with about 4.5 percent each of the total. There has been little change in these leading destinations since IMMACT. However, some new destinations have emerged in recent years. For example, during the past decade, such midwestern and southern states as Mississippi, Nebraska, Kansas, Georgia and North Carolina saw more than a doubling of the number of immigrants intending to reside there. Although the numbers are significantly smaller than the more traditional destinations, absorbing more new immigrants can be a challenge for these newer destinations that often do not have the immigration-related infrastructure of the traditional receiving communities.

    Age. Immigrants in FY 1996 remain young, with the largest proportion being in their later teens or twenties. A little more than one-fifth are children 15 years of age or younger, and another one-fifth are 45 years or older. More than one-half of family-based immigrants are younger than 30 years of age, reflecting the predominance of spouses and children. Because of beneficiaries, employment-based immigrants have just as many minor dependents age 15 years and younger as other groups, but more than two-fifths of these employment-based immigrants themselves are 30–44 years, the experienced and highly productive working ages. Diversity immigrants have a similar, yet somewhat younger, age distribution than other classes of admission. In contrast, and in large part due to those admitted as refugees from the former Soviet Union, humanitarian admissions tend to be somewhat older than other immigrants.

    Gender. Females were 54 percent of admissions in FY 1996. There had been an essentially even balance of men and women during the decade of the 1980s. The increased share of females in the 1990s parallels the historical tendency toward more female immigrants throughout much of the post-World War II period. It also reflects the admission of the spouses of legalized aliens who were predominantly male. In FY 1996, family-based admissions were predominantly female (57 percent) and employment-based admissions (including beneficiaries) were evenly balanced by gender. Diversity (45 percent female) and humanitarian (48 percent female) admissions, in contrast, had more male immigrants. That a slight majority of FY 1996 humanitarian admissions were male is somewhat surprising given that worldwide refugee populations are disproportionately female.

    English Ability. The Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] admissions data do not include information on English language ability (or education, as discussed below). The following analysis draws instead on preliminary data from the New Immigrant Survey [NIS], which studied a sample of immigrants admitted in FY 1996. The NIS is a pilot study designed to test the feasibility of a longitudinal immigrant survey. Although the data are not yet published, analysis indicates that it offers promise of providing certain information about immigrants that has not previously been available. The NIS, using the same measure as the U.S. Census, reports on the English language proficiency of adult legal immigrants who are 18 years and older. The initial results show that employment-based immigrants report the greatest English ability—70 percent of employment-based admissions report speaking at least fairly well and less than 10 percent speak very little or no English (the remainder report an “average” speaking ability). About 37 percent of family-based admissions report speaking English at least fairly well and an almost equal proportion report speaking little or no English. The diversity immigrants tend to report even less English ability, despite the requirement that they have at least a high school education. The humanitarian admissions trail the furthest behind in reported English language ability. Only 16 percent report speaking English at least fairly well, while more than 50 percent report speaking little or no English.

    Education. The years of schooling completed by immigrants is perhaps one of the most critical measures of skill level. The NIS provides our first indicators of years of education of adult legal immigrants at the time of their admission. As found in studies of foreign-born residents, the immigrants surveyed by the NIS tend to cluster at the higher or lower ends of the educational spectrum and differ significantly in their educational attainment by class of admission. Fully 46 percent of employment-based admissions have completed four years of college or a graduate degree. This figure includes principals and beneficiaries, making it likely that well-educated employment-based immigrants tend to have well-educated spouses. In contrast, just 17 percent of family-based immigrants 25 years and older have completed a college-level education while 42 percent have less than a high school education.

    Diversity immigrants are required to have a high school education or two years of skilled work experience. The NIS data show that diversity immigrants tend to be better educated than family-based, but not as well educated as employment-based immigrants. About 14 percent have not completed high school. They may be either principals who meet the work but not the education requirement or the spouses of the principals. Twenty-two percent of diversity immigrants have completed college or done graduate-level education, about the same proportion as among U.S. natives.

    The humanitarian classes of admission are less well educated than the employment-based, but are better educated than family admissions. The large number of relatively well-educated persons admitted as refugees from the Soviet Union may partly explain this finding. About 21 percent have less than a high school education, while about 19 percent have college or higher degrees.

    Occupation. Ultimately, the English and educational skills that immigrants have are reflected in their occupations. The INS admissions data, which we use here, have only crude occupational classifications. It imperfectly captures the difference between immigrants who adjust into legal permanent resident [LPR] status after working in a U.S. job for several years and those who report an occupation upon admission that tells us more about what the immigrant did at home than what they will do here.

    Sixty-five percent of all immigrants in FY 1996 reported no occupation or being a “homemaker,” reflecting the fact that children, parents, and spouses are a large share of all admissions and most do not work at the time of entry.

    Nevertheless, occupational status faithfully reflects the legal requirements of the admission class—the proportion of all immigrants not reporting an occupation is greater among family and humanitarian admissions, about 70 percent of all immigrants in each category. By way of comparison, only about one-half of all employment and diversity admissions have no reported occupation. The skills which immigrants bring to the United States are reflected in their type of occupations. Family and humanitarian immigrants are primarily blue-collar workers. In contrast, employment-based and permanent diversity immigrants are predominantly white-collar workers. These broad differences between the major classes of admission have changed only slightly over the past three decades.

    IMMACT has had an effect on occupational distribution within these broad categories. To gauge its effects, a research paper prepared for the Commission calculated simple linear projections for all of the admission categories now subject to the worldwide ceiling on admissions. Data from FY 1972–1991 were analyzed and the trends identified, then projected forward to FY 1996. This analysis, therefore, paints a “what-if” picture of what today's immigration might have looked like if past trends had continued unaffected by IMMACT.

    The actual total number of admissions under the worldwide ceiling in FY 1996 was 720,314 which—compared to the projected figure of 426,929—was 69 percent greater than would have been expected without IMMACT. Admissions were greater than the projected figure because IMMACT increased numerically-limited family, employment, and diversity admissions. The numerically-exempt admissions for the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens would have grown between 1992 and 1996 even without IMMACT. This analysis does not include humanitarian admissions.

    Of immigrants who reported an occupation, the actual admissions in FY 1996 were 221,731 which—compared to the projected figure of 165,234—was 34 percent greater than would have been expected if IMMACT had not gone into effect. By contrast, nonworking immigrants experienced a 91 percent increase of actual over projected. This finding is not surprising as FY 1996 family admissions were significantly higher than would have been permissible under previous law. In part this was because IMMACT permitted unused FY 1995 employment-based numbers to be transferred to the FY 1996 family categories. In combination with a growth in immediate relatives (including those who would normally have been admitted in FY 1995 but were caught in processing delays), the additional visas meant more spouses and minor children entered. These immigrants are the least likely to be employed.

    As might be anticipated, IMMACT's new emphasis on admitting highly-educated and skilled persons led to growth in professional occupations among those who reported an occupation. As stated above, there was an overall 34 percent increase in persons reporting an occupation. This increase was not evenly distributed, however. The number of health professionals, for example, was projected to be 10,244, but at 18,985 was 85 percent greater. The number of executives also shows a higher than expected increase. Interestingly, projections not shown here indicate that within the employment-based category, family members (beneficiaries) of the principals show the greatest growth in professional occupations. This suggests that when principals with more skills are admitted, they bring with them spouses who are, likewise, more skilled than in the past. Further, projections not shown here indicate that the skill requirement for permanent diversity immigrants makes for more highly-skilled admissions from eligible countries. In short, IMMACT increased both the numbers of more skilled admissions and their share of immigrants admitted.

    Most nonprofessional white-collar and blue-collar occupations show very little or no growth over what might have occurred without IMMACT. The one notable exception is a greater-than-expected increase in the number of “Operators, Fabricators, and Laborers.” There were 53,936 admissions in these occupations compared to the 37,702 that were projected. As the employment-based access for persons with these occupations is highly limited, it appears that much of this increase is attributable to family-based admissions. It is unclear from the data, however, why this pattern has emerged.

    Earnings. According to the NIS survey, the median earnings of all male immigrants admitted in 1996 was $15,600 and for women was $11,960, lower than the median earnings for natives. Compared to the earnings in their last country of residence, male immigrants experienced a 59 percent increase and women a 45 increase in earnings upon admission to the United States. Differences in earnings are, as should be expected, substantial by admission class. Many employment-based immigrants earn a median income of $36,400 on the date of their admission to LPR status, while the sibling or spouse of an LPR earns $11,750 and the spouse of a citizen earns $18,200.

    Effects on the Economy

    An independent evaluation of immigration by a panel of eminent social scientists at the National Research Council [NRC], sponsored by the Commission, found that immigration has a positive economic impact on the national level. However, the NRC panel's findings confirm the by now commonplace conclusion that there are tangible costs to certain sectors of the labor market and certain communities. This reinforces the Commission's conclusions on the need for a well-regulated system of immigrant admissions, as well as the need for attention to means of improving integration and reducing friction between newcomers and established residents.

    The NRC panel estimates that immigrants may add $1–10 billion directly to the national economy each year, a small but positive amount in a $7.6 trillion economy. Many consumers, business owners, and investors benefit from the immigrant labor force. Recent newcomers may be willing to work for lower wages than other U.S. workers, although, with the exception of many immigrants with less than a high school education, most immigrants tend to earn as much as natives after a decade. Many others in the economy benefit, particularly those who do work that is complementary to that performed by immigrants. Immigrants provide the labor that has kept viable entire segments of certain labor-intensive industries, such as garment and shoemaking. Many immigrant entrepreneurs expand trade with foreign countries from which they come, and the language and cultural expertise of many immigrant employees are valuable to U.S. companies doing business abroad.

    Immigrants also contribute to the economic revitalization of the communities in which they live. As middle-class natives have left the inner cities, immigrant newcomers have settled, established businesses, bought homes, and otherwise invested in these areas. Gateway cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, have benefited particularly from this urban renewal. At the same time, these cities face new challenges related to immigration. Growing immigrant communities require local school systems (some of which may have otherwise faced declining enrollments) to provide sufficient classroom space and teachers. They must also develop programs to teach children who are without English skills or prior education. Overcrowded housing, drug trafficking, gang violence, sweatshops, and public health problems also may be found in many of these inner-city communities.

    Immigration particularly affects certain U.S. workers. The NRC panel finds that workers with less than twelve years of education are the most adversely affected by low-skilled immigrant workers. Immigrants may have reduced substantially the wages of high school dropouts, who are about one-tenth of the workforce, by 5 percent nationwide. This is a sizable impact on a group that was already poorly paid before the loss in real earnings it experienced over the past two decades. Most often it is the foreign-born worker, particularly in labor markets with large numbers of immigrants who experience the greatest competition. While the education and skill level of most U.S. workers differs significantly from those of most immigrants (and therefore they are not competing for the same jobs), the new arrivals are often direct substitutes for immigrants who arrived a short time before them.

    The evidence on the impact of immigration on native-born minorities nationwide is less clear. The NRC concluded that in the aggregate, the economic opportunities of African Americans are not reduced by immigration because African Americans and immigrants tend to be in different labor markets and reside in different cities. Other research finds small, adverse effects on African Americans. These effects are found most strongly when low-skilled minority workers compete with low-skilled immigrant workers in the same industries and the same geographic areas.

    The fiscal effects of immigration also are complicated. Generally, the impacts on the federal government are favorable compared to those on state and local governments. Most studies show that at the federal level, the foreign-born pay more in taxes than they receive in services. When spread across all taxpayers, this characteristic represents a very small, but positive, benefit. At the local level, however, immigrants often represent a net fiscal cost, in some cases a substantial one. Research on the resident illegal alien population finds the clearest examples of fiscal costs to states and localities. In general, much of the negative effect is related to school costs that are considerable because of the larger size of many immigrant families. Although funds spent on education may be considered an investment, not just a fiscal burden, the payoff is not realized for many years.

    Education affects fiscal impacts in a second way. Ultimately, the economic success and fiscal contributions of immigrants are determined by their educational level. The NRC panel found that immigrants who complete high school and beyond generally represent a more favorable balance of fiscal costs and contributions than do those with little or no education. Even over their lifetimes, immigrants without education are unlikely to contribute sufficient tax revenues to offset their use of services. Both groups of immigrants tend to use public services in a similar fashion, particularly as related to the schooling of their children, but the more educated immigrants tend to earn more and pay higher taxes.

    Educational differences also explain why certain states and localities are more adversely affected by immigration than are others. California immigrants represent a sizeable tax burden (estimated at almost $1,200 per native-headed family per year) while New Jersey immigrants represent a more modest tax burden (estimated to be $232 per native-headed family per year). The difference can be explained largely by the differences in the average educational level of the immigrants residing in these states.

    English language ability also affects the economic success and fiscal impacts of immigrants. In the 1990 Census, 47 percent of the foreign-born more than 5 years of age reported not speaking English “very well.” Individuals with poor English language skills tend to be confined to the lowest levels of the U.S. job market. By contrast, ability in spoken English markedly improves immigrants' earnings, especially for Hispanic and Asian adult immigrants. English reading comprehension also has been found to improve the earnings of young immigrant adults.

    Population Growth and Natural Resources

    In recent years there have been about 800,000 legal admissions and an additional estimated 200,000 to 300,000 unauthorized entries, but the net annual increase of the foreign-born population is about 700,000 each year due to return migration and mortality. In 1996, the foreign-born population was 24.6 million, 9.3 percent of the U.S. population. Recent arrivals make up a large share of the resident foreign-born population; about 28 percent arrived after 1990, and an additional 35 percent during the 1980s.

    It is estimated that international migration makes up somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of net annual population increase. Given current demographic trends and noting that much can happen to alter long-range forecasts, the U.S. Census Bureau projects the population to increase by 50 percent between 1995 and 2050. Immigration is likely to become a larger proportion of the net increase.

    The NRC report also presented estimates of population growth. It found that without immigration since 1950, the U.S. population would have been 14 percent smaller than its 1995 size of 263 million. The NRC projected the population to the year 2050 after making certain assumptions about mortality, fertility, and rates of group inter-marriage. According to the projection based on these assumptions, the U.S. population would increase by 124 million persons to 387 million, with immigration responsible for two-thirds (82 million) of the increase. Of this 82 million, 45 million are immigrants and an additional 37 million increase is due to their higher assumed fertility.

    Immigration affects the age structure as well as the overall population. The NRC panel projected that under current immigration policy, kindergarten through grade eight school enrollment in 2050 would be 17 percent higher than it was in 1995. High school enrollment would rise from 14.0 million in 1995 to 20.3 million in 2050. Immigration also has small effects on the proportion of the population that is elderly. No matter which immigration policies are adopted, according to the NRC, the number of persons aged 65 years and older will double between 1995 and 2050. However, the proportion of older people in the total population will be somewhat smaller with immigration.

    The NRC panel's projection of the ethnic distribution of the U.S. population in 2050 shows the Hispanic population increasing from 10 to 25 percent and the Asian population from 3 to 8 percent of the population. These projections are dependent on today's rates of group intermarriage and how persons report their ethnicity. It may be that, like children of immigrants who arrived in the last century, descendents of today's immigrants will choose to report their ethnicity as being different from that of their parents, and that today's ethnic categories will not accurately describe tomorrow's populations.

    What broader implications do these growth figures have? Some analysts argue that high immigration levels mean an abundant supply of youthful workers who will be a substantial spur to the economy. From this perspective, population growth is an engine for technological progress and the means to solve environmental problems, effectively spawning change out of necessity. Proponents of this view argue that human resourcefulness has dealt with population growth in the past and the solutions often have left us better off. Adding more people may “cause us more problems, but at the same time there will be more people to solve these problems.”

    Others are concerned about the negative consequences of population growth, particularly on the environment, infrastructure, and services. They see population growth as imposing pressures on our natural resources and quality of life, raising special concerns in the arid regions of the southwest or sites of industries relocating to the south central states. Those concerned argue that our future wellbeing depends upon both conservation, and stabilizing population growth.

    This debate primarily concerns total U.S. population growth, which is strongly influenced by immigration. Still, there is little or no information about whether immigrants have differential impacts distinct from the population increase they produce on the U.S. environment.

    The Commission did find that rapid inflows of immigrants can pose difficulties for those who must plan for community growth. Schools sometimes receive large numbers of new immigrant students that had not been planned for. Housing and infrastructure development may not be adequate in affected urban and rural communities. New immigrant destinations, sometimes to areas that have not had new immigrants for a century or more, can put particular stress on communities that have experienced rapid growth in the past decade.

    Foreign Policy and National Security Interests

    Immigration matters frequently are intertwined with foreign policy and national security. Today, migration and refugee issues are matters of high international politics engaging the heads of state involved in defense, internal security, and external relations. International migration intersects with foreign policy in two principal ways. The U.N. Security Council has acknowledged that migration can pose threats to international peace and security through economic or social instability or humanitarian disasters. Migration can also build positive relations with other countries and thereby promote national security. As a consequence, migration itself requires bilateral and international attention to help address the causes and consequences of movements of people.

    During the Cold War, a foreign policy priority was the destabilizing of Communist regimes. Refugee policy was often a tool to achieve that strategic goal, for instance, by encouraging the flow of migrants from Eastern Europe or Cuba. Elsewhere, political, economic, and military involvement in Southeast Asia and the Dominican Republic had significant migration consequences, as large numbers of Southeast Asians and Dominicans ended up as refugees and immigrants to the U.S. These foreign policy priorities generally have had significant immigration consequences years later.

    Alternatively, immigration concerns sometimes have played a significant role in U.S. foreign policy, especially when mass movements to the U.S. are feared. A stated rationale for U.S. Central-American policy in the 1980s was to prevent a mass movement that would occur if anti-American Marxist dictatorships were established in Central America. One of the explicit reasons for the military intervention in Haiti in 1994 was to restrain the flow of migrants onto U.S. shores. And, although the U.S. does not officially maintain relations with Cuba, migration concerns gained priority over diplomatic ones leading to negotiations on the Cuban Migration Agreement and to a reversal of policy regarding the interdiction of Cuban migrants.

    Some observers believe that environmental causes now rival economic and political instability as a major source of forced migration throughout the world. There are estimates that as many as one hundred million people may be displaced, in part, because of degradation of land and natural resources. “That will increase the pressure to migrate to places like the United States.” The pervasive deterioration of Mexico's rural drylands may contribute to between 700,000 and 900,000 people a year leaving rural areas. Environmental degradation in Mexico, Haiti, and Central America also are believed to have migration consequences for the U.S. Often environmental problems intersect with other causes. One researcher argues that migrants from Haiti may be considered “environmental refugees” because the root causes of their migrations are land degradation and the Haitian government's unwillingness to act in the interest of the general population.

    Stabilizing economic growth and democracy may be an effective means of reducing migration pressures. The Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development concluded that, over the long run of a generation or more, trade and investment are likely to reduce migration pressures. Supporters of the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] argued that NAFTA-related development eventually will reduce unauthorized Mexican migration. The U.S. has provided the reinstalled democratically-elected government of Haiti with a great deal of rehabilitation assistance that should aid the stability of that country.


    Properly-regulated immigration and immigrant policy serves the national interest by ensuring the entry of those who will contribute most to our society and helping lawful newcomers adjust to life in the United States. It must give due consideration to shifting economic realities. A well-regulated system sets priorities for admission; facilitates nuclear family reunification; gives employers access to a global labor market while protecting U.S. workers; helps to generate jobs and economic growth; and fulfills our commitment to resettle refugees as one of several elements of humanitarian protection of the persecuted.

    Speech by President George W. Bush from the Oval Office

    Following months of debate within the halls of Congress and demonstrations by immigrants and their supporters, President Bush delivered this televised address to the nation in May 2006. In it he set out a five-point plan intended to reduce illegal immigration, a plan that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that would represent a “middle ground” between mass deportation and automatic granting of citizenship, deployment of National Guard troops to the U.S.–Mexican border, and a “guest worker” program enabling foreigners to work temporarily in the United States. House Republicans balked at the president's plan due to political concerns, and there was no movement on it. The ideas President Bush put forth are still part of the ongoing debate surrounding comprehensive immigration reform.

    Washington, DC

    May 15, 2006

    Good evening. I've asked for a few minutes of your time to discuss a matter of national importance: the reform of America's immigration system.

    The issue of immigration stirs intense emotions and in recent weeks, Americans have seen those emotions on display. On the streets of major cities, crowds have rallied in support of those in our country illegally. At our southern border, others have organized to stop illegal immigrants from coming in. Across the country, Americans are trying to reconcile these contrasting images. And in Washington, the debate over immigration reform has reached a time of decision. Tonight, I will make it clear where I stand, and where I want to lead our country on this vital issue.

    We must begin by recognizing the problems with our immigration system. For decades, the United States has not been in complete control of its borders. As a result, many who want to work in our economy have been able to sneak across our border and millions have stayed.

    Once here, illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society. Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal. Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals, … it strains state and local budgets … and brings crime to our communities. These are real problems, yet we must remember that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are decent people who work hard, support their families, practice their faith, and lead responsible lives. They are a part of American life but they are beyond the reach and protection of American law.

    We are a nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws. We're also a nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways. These are not contradictory goals. America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. We will fix the problems created by illegal immigration, and we will deliver a system that is secure, orderly, and fair. So I support comprehensive immigration reform that will accomplish five clear objectives.

    First, the United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security. Our objective is straightforward: The border should be open to trade and lawful immigration, and shut to illegal immigrants, as well as criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists.

    I was the governor of a state that has a 1,200-mile border with Mexico. So I know how difficult it is to enforce the border, and how important it is. Since I became president, we've have increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and expanded the Border Patrol from about 9,000 to 12,000 agents. The men and women of our Border Patrol are doing a fine job in difficult circumstances and over the past five years, they have apprehended and sent home about six million people entering America illegally.

    Despite this progress, we do not yet have full control of the border, and I am determined to change that. Tonight I'm calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border. By the end of 2008, we will increase the number of Border Patrol officers by an additional 6,000. When these new agents are deployed, we will have more than doubled the size of the Border Patrol during my Presidency.

    At the same time, we are launching the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history. We will construct high-tech fences in urban corridors, and build new patrol roads and barriers in rural areas. We will employ motion sensors, … infrared cameras … and unmanned aerial vehicles to prevent illegal crossings. America has the best technology in the world and we will ensure that the Border Patrol has the technology they need to do their job and secure our border.

    Training thousands of new Border Patrol agents and bringing the most advanced technology to the border will take time. Yet the need to secure our border is urgent. So I'm am announcing several immediate steps to strengthen border enforcement during this period of transition:

    One way to help during this transition is to use the National Guard. So in coordination with governors, up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border. The Border Patrol will remain in the lead. The Guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, … analyzing intelligence, … installing fences and vehicle barriers, … building patrol roads … and providing training. Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities. That duty will be done by the Border Patrol. This initial commitment of Guard members would last for a period of one year. After that, the number of Guard forces will be reduced as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online. It is important for Americans to know that we have enough Guard forces to win the war on terror, to respond to natural disasters, and help secure our border.

    The United States is not going to militarize the southern border. Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend. We will continue to work cooperatively to improve security on both sides of the border, … to confront common problems like drug trafficking and crime, … and to reduce illegal immigration.

    Another way to help during this period of transition is through state and local law enforcement in our border communities. So we will increase federal funding for state and local authorities assisting the Border Patrol on targeted enforcement missions. And we will give state and local authorities the specialized training they need to help federal officers apprehend and detain illegal immigrants. State and local law enforcement officials are an important part of our border security resource and they need to be are part of our strategy to secure our borders communities.

    The steps I have outlined will improve our ability to catch people entering our country illegally. At the same time, we must ensure that every illegal immigrant we catch crossing our southern border is returned home. More than 85 percent of the illegal immigrants we catch crossing the southern border are Mexicans, and most are sent back home within 24 hours. But when we catch illegal immigrants from other countries, it is not as easy to send them back home. For many years, the government did not have enough space in our detention facilities to hold them while the legal process unfolded. So most were released back into our society and asked to return for a court date. When the date arrived, the vast majority did not show up. This practice, called “catch and release,” is unacceptable and we will end it.

    We're taking several important steps to meet this goal. We've have expanded the number of beds in our detention facilities, and we will continue to add more. We've have expedited the legal process to cut the average deportation time. And we are making it clear to foreign governments that they must accept back their citizens who violate our immigration laws. As a result of these actions, we've have ended “catch and release” for illegal immigrants from some countries. And I will ask Congress for additional funding and legal authority, so we can end “catch and release” at the southern border once and for all. When people know that they'll will be caught and sent home if they enter our country illegally, they will be less likely to try to sneak in.

    Second, to secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program. The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively, we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across.

    Therefore, I support a temporary worker program that would create a legal path for foreign workers to enter our country in an orderly way, for a limited period of time. This program would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing. Every worker who applies for the program would be required to pass criminal background checks. And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay. A temporary worker program would meet the needs of our economy, and it would give honest immigrants a way to provide for their families while respecting the law. A temporary worker program would reduce the appeal of human smugglers and make it less likely that people would risk their lives to cross the border. It would ease the financial burden on state and local governments, by replacing illegal workers with lawful taxpayers. And above all, a temporary worker program would add to our security by making certain we know who is in our country and why they are here.

    Third, we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees, because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility. A key part of that system should be a new identification card for every legal foreign worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof. A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place. Fourth, we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here already. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration.

    Some in this country argue that the solution is to—is to deport every illegal immigrant and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty. I disagree. It is neither wise nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border. There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation. That middle ground recognizes that there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently and someone who has worked here for many years, and has a home, a family, and an otherwise clean record. I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, … to pay their taxes, … to learn English … and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship but approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law. What I've have just described is not amnesty it is a way for those who have broken the law to pay their debt to society, and demonstrate the character that makes a good citizen.

    Fifth, we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language. English is also the key to unlocking the opportunity of America. English allows newcomers to go from picking crops to opening a grocery, … from cleaning offices to running offices, … from a life of low-paying jobs to a diploma, a career, and a home of their own. When immigrants assimilate and advance in our society, they realize their dreams, … they renew our spirit … and they add to the unity of America.

    Tonight, I want to speak directly to members of the House and the Senate: An immigration reform bill needs to be comprehensive, because all elements of this problem must be addressed together or none of them will be solved at all. The House has passed an immigration bill. The Senate should act by the end of this month so we can work out the differences between the two bills, and Congress can pass a comprehensive bill for me to sign into law.

    America needs to conduct this debate on immigration in a reasoned and respectful tone. Feelings run deep on this issue and as we work it out, all of us need to keep some things in mind. We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyone's fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain. We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say. I know many of you listening tonight have a parent or a grandparent who came here from another country with dreams of a better life. You know what freedom meant to them, and you know that America is a more hopeful country because of their hard work and sacrifice. As president, I've have had the opportunity to meet people of many backgrounds, and hear what America means to them. On a visit to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Laura and I met a wounded Marine named Guadalupe Denogean. Master Gunnery Sergeant Denogean came to the United States from Mexico when he was a boy. He spent his summers picking crops with his family, and then he volunteered for the United States Marine Corps as soon as he was able. During the liberation of Iraq, Master Gunnery—Master Gunnery Sergeant Denogean was seriously injured. And when asked if he had any requests, he made two: a promotion for the corporal who helped rescue him … and the chance to become an American citizen. And when this brave Marine raised his right hand, and swore an oath to become a citizen of the country he had defended for more than 26 years, I was honored to stand at his side.

    We will always be proud to welcome people like Guadalupe Denogean as fellow Americans. Our new immigrants are just what they've have always been: people willing to risk everything for the dream of freedom. And America remains what she has always been: the great hope on the horizon, … an open door to the future, … a blessed and promised land. We honor the heritage of all who come here, no matter where they are from, because we trust in our country's genius for making us all Americans, one nation under God.

    Thank you, and good night.

    Press Release from the Office of the Governor of New York Announcing New Policy on the State's Driver's License Policy

    On September 21, 2007, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer issued an executive order directing that state offices allow illegal aliens to be issued driver's licenses, effective from December of that year. The measure drew intense criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, with critics bristling at a policy that they claimed would open the door for illegal immigrants to receive official documentation and expressing concerns that it would compromise the improvements made in national security since 9/11. Largely as a result of coverage on cable news and talk radio, the issue of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants entered the national dialogue, with candidates for the 2008 presidential contest being asked for their views on the policy. The measure was finally withdrawn after sustained public and political opposition.

    September 21, 2007

    Department of Motor Vehicles Changes License Policy to Include More New Yorkers and Implements New Regime of Anti-Fraud Measures to Strengthen the Security of the System
    Improves Safety of New York Streets, Lowers Auto Insurance Rates and Brings More New Yorkers into the System

    Governor Eliot Spitzer and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner David Swarts today announced an administrative policy change that will give all New Yorkers the opportunity to apply for state driver licenses without regard to immigration status. Tied to the policy change, the Governor and Commissioner also announced plans to implement a new regime of anti-fraud measures to increase the security of the licensing system as a new population of New Yorkers comes into the system.

    The DMV estimates that tens of thousands of undocumented, unlicensed and uninsured drivers are currently on New York's roads, contributing to increased accidents and hit-and-runs as well as higher auto insurance rates. In addition, bringing more New Yorkers into the system will ensure a greater number of people have a license record that, if necessary, can be used to enhance law enforcement efforts.

    “I applaud the DMV and Commissioner Swarts for making this commonsense change that deals practically with the reality that hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants live among us and that allowing them the opportunity to obtain driver licenses in a responsible and secure manner will help increase public safety,” said Governor Eliot Spitzer. “After a comprehensive review, DMV has developed changes that will increase the security of our license system by obtaining better and more verifiable information from applicants, which will decrease the number of uninsured drivers on the roads, lower auto insurance rates for all drivers and, when necessary help law enforcement agencies in their investigations.”

    Commissioner Swarts said: “This policy change allows the DMV to focus its resources on its core mission—to ensure that every person driving on our roads is fit to drive and can prove his or her identity. Currently, too many drivers are unlicensed and uninsured simply because they do not have a social security number. Rather than bury our heads in the sand and pretend the problem does not exist, today we are choosing to confront it and in doing so greatly improve the safety of our roads.”

    To ensure a smooth transition without disruption to regular customer service, the implementation of the policy change will take place in two phases:

    Phase 1 will begin immediately. Informational letters from DMV will be sent to the approximately 152,000 New Yorkers, who at one point had (or currently have) a New York State license, but are unable to renew it because of the previous administrative policy. DMV will notify these former and current license holders of the policy change and will begin the re-licensing process at the end of 2007. Those affected will still need to prove their identity, date of birth and fitness to drive before being issued a new license.

    Phase 2 will begin six to eight months after Phase 1 and will open the application process to all New Yorkers.

    The time period between phases will allow the DMV to make the necessary infrastructure and staffing improvements to accommodate the expected increase in customer volume while maintaining the highest level of customer service and anti-fraud security.

    The benefits of this policy change include:

    • Safer Streets: In its report, “Unlicensed to Kill,” the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in a fatal crash than are validly licensed drivers.
    • Lower Insurance Rates: The State Department of Insurance estimates that expanded license access will reduce the premium costs associated with uninsured motorist coverage by 34% which will save New York drivers $120 million each year. Other states with similar policies have seen their auto insurance rates drop as well.
    • Safer Homeland: This policy change helps bolster homeland security by bringing more individuals into the system and, when necessary, assisting law enforcement efforts to locate those who present a real security threat.

    The new policy will apply to all state-issued licenses that are not governed by certain federal laws that require a social security number, like commercial driver licenses and hazardous materials endorsements. Currently, eight other states—Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington—do not require drivers to prove legal status in order to obtain a license. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: “When the previous Governor changed the requirements for law-abiding immigrant citizens to obtain a driver's license, the Assembly Majority held public hearings and urged the Pataki Administration to change the regulations. But it took a change in the administration to get where we are today. I applaud Governor Spitzer for his actions. To deny law-abiding immigrant New Yorkers access to a driver's license and make it more difficult for hardworking families to get to work, the hospital or even get their children to school is to admit that terrorism has won.”

    Senate Minority Leader Malcolm A. Smith said: “I am pleased to endorse this very fair and reasonable change in policy by the Spitzer administration. This change will enhance public safety while allowing driver licenses to be granted to those able to meet reasonable standards of proof of identity.”

    State Police Acting Superintendent Preston Felton said: “DMV's new steps to increase security and validate identification will reduce fraud and increase safety. Ensuring more of our drivers are properly licensed and qualified to drive results in safer streets.”

    State Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo said: “Now, people with insurance pay the costs when people without insurance have accidents. That's not right. Experience in other states makes it clear that when drivers have licenses, they are much more likely to buy insurance. We project that this program will substantially cut the cost of uninsured drivers and that means millions of dollars in savings on auto insurance.”

    Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security Michael Balboni said: “We have been meticulous in ensuring that this change in policy, and the new security measures we are putting in place, strengthen our homeland security efforts by licensing a population of New Yorkers who previously had no public records.”

    Margaret Stock, an immigration and national security law expert who is an Attorney and Lieutenant Colonel in the Military Police, US Army Reserve, is currently assigned as a part-time Associate Professor at the US Military Academy at West Point. Ms. Stock, who is also chair of the International Security Affairs Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, said: “New York State's new policy will enhance the security of New Yorkers and all Americans. Granting driver licenses to all residents of a state who can prove their identity allows law enforcement officials to find persons who may be security threats, and gives law enforcement officials more tools to prevent and solve crimes.”

    President of the New York State AFL-CIO Denis Hughes said: “We applaud Governor Spitzer for his actions today. Equal access to a driver's license, regardless of immigration status, is essential to the public safety and well-being of all New Yorkers.”

    Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Co-Founder of the New York Coalition for Immigrants' Rights to Driver's Licenses said: “Our state's new driver's license policy is a win-win for immigrants and for all New Yorkers. Not only does it enable more New Yorkers to get licensed and insured, making our roads much safer, but it's going to make our licensing system far more secure and immune to fraud. We applaud the Governor for developing a smart and fair solution that can serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”

    Amy Sugimori, co-chair of the New York Coalition for Immigrants' Rights to Driver's Licenses said: “Today's announcement is a huge victory for the immigrant, civil rights and labor movements. For four years, diverse groups from across the state have been working to ensure that all New Yorkers are treated equally by the government. Today our voices are being heard. We applaud Governor Spitzer for his leadership as he sends a strong message to the country that second-class treatment of immigrants is bad public policy.”

    State law requires license applicants to prove their identity, date of birth and fitness to drive, and to provide a social security number (SSN). The SSN requirement was added in 1995 as part of an effort to punish parents who were not paying child support. In 2002, a state regulation was adopted to allow applicants who are ineligible for a SSN to also apply for driver licenses. Following this step, the DMV then issued an administrative policy that effectively made it impossible for illegal immigrants to obtain driver licenses by stipulating that the only way to define “ineligibility” would be through obtaining a formal letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration, a letter that is only obtainable by individuals who have legal immigration status.

    It is this last administrative policy that the DMV is changing. Starting in the phases discussed above, license applicants will check a box on the license application that states that the applicant is not eligible to receive a social security number. Instead of presenting a SSN or a letter of ineligibility, individuals instead will provide a current foreign passport and other valid and verifiable documents to prove identity. As such, the DMV will be able to achieve its primary goal in issuing licenses, which is to ensure that the individual who is receiving the license is not misrepresenting themselves to obtain a fraudulent identity card, and controlling who has access to driving motor vehicles.

    The DMV's new anti-fraud measures will make the current system even more secure in a number of ways. It will utilize new state-of-the-art document verification technology, including photograph comparison tools and specially-trained staff with expertise in foreign-sourced identity documents, and a proposal to implement a residency requirement for all state license holders.

    • The DMV's secure “6-point ID requirement” will be based on an expanded list of valid and verifiable documents. Along with the other identity documents currently on the list, individuals' identities will be verified using this new document verification technology to reduce the potential for fraud.
    • The DMV has begun a pilot program to test photo comparison technology, which will prevent a person from obtaining more than one license under more than one name. Currently, 18 states use photo comparison technology as part of their fraud-protection system.
    • The DMV will also train personnel in verifying foreign-sourced identity documents.
    • Finally, as a further fraud-prevention measure, the DMV will propose to require a license applicant prove his or her New York State residency in order to be eligible for a state-issued license. Currently, 27 states have such residency requirements.

    There will be no increase to the current license fee as a result of these changes.

    Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law Committee on the Judiciary on ICE Detention and Removal Programs

    The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a non-profit organization founded in 1972 that advocates for changes in U.S. immigration policy that would result in considerable reductions in both legal and illegal immigration. It also lobbies strongly for vigorous enforcement of current immigration laws, often testifying before Congress on matters such as visa overstays, refugees, and specific legislation currently before Congress. In this testimony from 2008, FAIR president Dan Stein puts forth the organization's stance on how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm (ICE) is falling short in its administration of the program for detaining and removing illegal aliens.

    Dan Stein, President, FAIR

    February 13, 2008

    A Hearing on Reported Problems with ICE Interrogation, Detention, and Removal Procedures

    Madame Chair, members of the subcommittee, thank you very much for the opportunity to testify here today on behalf of the Federation For American Immigration Reform (FAIR). I have included information on FAIR at the end of my statement.

    FAIR strongly supports the principle that U.S. immigration law is just as important as any other law in the United States Code, and that the enforcement of these laws is vital to maintenance of a sense of fairness and justice to all Americans who work hard to respect all the laws of this nation. Basic principles of fundamental fairness and respect for law are the cornerstones of citizenship in this highly diverse society. There many who argue that violating an immigration law lacks any negative moral connotation. We disagree. One reason why many immigrants want to come to the United States is because here “the system works.”

    Congress has passed laws and the Executive Branch maintains a series of procedures governing the arrest, detention and removal of aliens illegally inside the United States. They are under constant review. We support the effective and humane administration of these laws and procedures, consistent with the process that is due at all points of apprehension, detention and removal.

    In the administration of these complex laws and procedures, mistakes will occasionally be made. This is especially true given the scope and complexity of these procedures, the demands of limited resources and the fact that human beings are fallible. The effective and judicious administration of all phases of these procedures will require a continued and growing infusion of resources: the management of immigration process is an extremely expensive proposition if it is to be done right.

    But when mistakes are made by ICE in the administration of these laws, it is a serious matter. Our nation's commitment to fairness and the rule of law dictate that all instances of misconduct be investigated thoroughly and, where criminal conduct is proved, a full prosecution should invariably follow. Where rules and procedures are not followed, such as in the inappropriate administration of sedation drugs, the willful failure to identify sole caregivers in the course of an interior enforcement operation and similar events, an investigation should follow from the Inspector General to ascertain why procedures were not followed.

    Madame Chair, we understand at FAIR that immigration policy involves sensitive and emotional issues—the very real impacts on real people are factors that must be considered in the establishment of any enforcement policy. We must be true to our principles as a people and work to ensure that immigration enforcement—vigorous and effective—nevertheless respects basic human rights and the dignity of all involved.

    At present, the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Program (ICE) program for detaining and removing illegal aliens is undergoing rapid expansion. The Bush Administration's most recent budget request seeks an additional $3 billion for internal enforcement, including work-site raids conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The President will ask for $1.8 billion more to expand ICE's capacity to detain illegal immigrants by providing 1,000 more detention beds.

    This rapid funding increase is necessitated by a rapid increase in illegal immigration, by declines in enforcement personnel and funded bed space (which declined by 3 percent and 6 percent, respectively between 2002 and 2004), and by public demands that interior immigration enforcement be dramatically expanded. Despite an increase in overall resources, bed space and personnel levels have failed to keep pace with the growing number of alien apprehensions.

    According to a 2006 audit report issued by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, “of the 774,112 illegal aliens apprehended during the past three years, 280,987 (36 percent) were released and largely due to a lack of personnel, bed space, and funding needed to detain illegal aliens while their immigration status is being adjudicated.” Further, an astounding 62 percent of the aliens released “will eventually be issued final orders of removal by the … Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) and later fail to surrender or abscond.” We now have over 600,000 alien fugitives in the United States.

    According to DHS, three major problems facing the Detention and Removal Office (DRO) are “(1) the propensity of illegal aliens to disobey orders to appear immigration court; (2) the penchant of released illegal aliens with final orders to abscond; (3) the practice of some countries to block or inhibit the repatriation of its citizens; and (4) two recent U.S. Supreme court decisions which mandate the release of criminal and other high-risk aliens 180 days after the issuance of the final removal order except in “Special Circumstances.” DRO says major problems carrying out large-scale removal include lack of “sufficient resources,” a lack of “political will, and the [lack of] operation of foreign governments.”

    FAIR calls on Congress and the national political leadership of this nation to demonstrate the political will to dramatically increase the enforcement of US immigration laws in a manner consistent with credible deterrence. We would also like some broader recognition of the tremendous hidden processing and enforcement costs associated with the administration of laws associated with the use of so-called “inexpensive” foreign labor.

    At present, specific problems with individual enforcement operations are properly subject to internal investigations by DHS. Every one of these allegations is worthy of serious consideration, all the while keeping in mind that many of the underlying facts are omitted from news reports. Further, we would suggest that overall policy changes not be made on the basis of one or two isolated instances of agent misconduct. Rather, we should be looking at the entire set of objectives in the aggregate and work to fashion an enforcement strategy that will operate to serve the nation as a whole.

    Furthermore, we are concerned that these isolated incidents are being used to try to build political support by those who oppose immigration enforcement generally. The reaction to the recent increases in interior enforcement—welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the American people—has been negative among those organizations traditionally opposed to robust enforcement strategies.

    With an estimated population of illegal aliens ranging from 12 to 13 million, one can hardly argue that this nation is too aggressive in its enforcement of immigration law. In 2005, DHS's Immigration Enforcement Actions report 135,610 formal removals—perhaps 1% of the illegal immigrant population in the United States. Clearly, the government has only begun to initiate which promises to be a multiyear effort.

    Commonly we hear the red herring, “What you want, mass deportations?” To which I respond that 135,000+ formal removals is already a form of mass deportation. Moreover, the sort of large-scale interior enforcement operations contemplated by the term “mass deportations” are unnecessary. This problem was not created overnight. It will not be solved overnight. Stepped up interior enforcement, when combined with the aggressive enforcement of employer sanctions, dramatically increased detention space, and streamlined removal proceedings will achieve the deterrence that will encourage most illegal aliens to return home.

    Madame Chair, we believe it is possible to enforce our immigration laws in a manner that is both effective and consistent with our values. We see the effects of state-based policy changes now: deterrence sets in quickly once it becomes clear that remaining unlawfully in the United States is not a viable option.

    Our immigration law enforcement is notoriously lax. While we understand that there are organizations and interests that seek to abolish nearly all forms of immigration enforcement, we believe that is a minority view. Even under today's relaxed standards, the United States deports well over 100,000 aliens from the interior of the country each year. While it will be costly to dramatically increase detention and bed space to bring about true deterrence, such costs can be reduced through expedited removal and similar streamlining techniques. The United States utilized expedited removal to repatriate over 70,000 aliens in 2005, and last year the Administration started using expedited removal for non-Mexicans apprehended near the border.

    The administration has more authority to use expedited removal than it has exercised to date. Current law allows the administration to utilize expedited removal for any alien who entered illegally and has been in the United States for less than two years. FAIR has previously supported provisions of the House-passed version of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which require the use of expedited removal for all aliens who enter the US illegally and have been here for less than five years. This is the sort of creative and innovative thinking we would like to see expanded.

    Madame Chair, this nation has allowed its interior enforcement apparatus to atrophy for years. It has happened as a result of the aggressive lobbying of private, special interests in United States who seek to use immigration to control labor costs. We believe it is time to change direction. The simple truth is that vigorously enforcing our immigration laws will have a negative impact on illegal aliens. However, we believe that the basic principles of fairness and justice require that we not provide specific benefits to those who have chosen to jump the line and break the law.

    Madame Chair, thank you very much for the opportunity to offer the views of FAIR.

    Congressional Testimony at a Hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009: Can We Do It and How?

    This hearing took place nearly two years after the failure of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which would have provided legal status and a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 to 20 million unauthorized immigrants that were residing in the country. At the time there was no specific piece of legislation before the Committee. Kris Kobach, an opponent of the 2007 legislation, delivered his testimony in person.

    Testimony Presented to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security

    Kris W. Kobach, Professor of Law, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri

    April 28, 2009

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will assume for the sake of this hearing that when we talk about comprehensive immigration reform, we mean reform similar in basic respects to the Senate bill 1348 of 2007, and I will explain with that understanding two basic reasons why pursuing that course of action would be ill-advised: first, the incapacity of the administration of U.S. CIS [Citizenship and Immigration Services], the bureaucratic incapacity to implement the amnesty in the time scale that was anticipated by that bill; and, secondly, the national security concerns that must flow from any large-scale amnesty.

    First, looking at the CIS, it simply does not have the resources at this time to effectively implement an amnesty of the scale contemplated by the 2007 bill. To understand this, just consider a few numbers. On top of the 12 million-plus illegal aliens in the country who would be eligible for the amnesty, presumably, there would also be a mass influx of hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions more, which is exactly what happened after the 1986 amnesty, who would present fraudulent documents to apply for the amnesty as if they had already been here. INS reported after the 1986 amnesty that they discovered 398,000 cases of such fraud, and it is reasonable to expect that a similar influx would occur this time.

    But let us just assume for the sake of argument that 12 million illegal aliens are eligible and apply for the amnesty. Now, the 2007 bill required everyone to apply within a single year period. There are 250 calendar days that the Government is open for business in a given year. That means that there would have to be an average of 48,000 applications for amnesty every day. As of September 2008, there were only 3,638 status adjudicators at U.S. CIS, and that number cannot be increased quickly because of the difficulty of hiring and training them quickly, and, of course, the attrition of existing adjudicators. Forty-eight thousand applications spread among about 3,600 adjudicators means an average of 13 amnesty applications per adjudicator per day. And, of course, on some days the number might well be double that amount. And under the 2007 bill, with each application the adjudicator had only one business day to determine if there were any national security or criminal reasons why an individual application should not be granted.

    Now, that is a bleak picture, but unfortunately it gets worse because that is assuming that those adjudicators are not doing anything right now. Of course, they are. There is a backlog of pending applications of approximately 3 million cases at present, and, of course, on top of that comes the 4 to 6 million applications for things like green cards and other benefits that we currently grant that come in every year.

    The GAO [Government Accountability Office] recently reported that U.S. CIS is, accordingly, stretched to the breaking point—so much so that there is so much time pressure that they spend too little time scrutinizing the applications. As a result, the GAO concluded the failure to detect fraud is already “an ongoing and serious problem” at U.S. CIS. They said a high-pressure production environment exists, and it is widely known that at some U.S. CIS offices, there is an informal so-called 6-minute rule in place where an adjudicator has to get through at least 10 applications per hour, and it is a veritable bureaucratic sweatshop.

    Well, as a result of this time pressure, U.S. CIS right now is failing to engage in common-sense verification with outside agencies, for example, calling a State DMV to see if two people who allege that they are married are actually living together. And, in fact, in many offices adjudicators are discouraged from making back-up calls like that.

    So this agency is already dangerously overburdened and susceptible to fraud. What would an amnesty of the style contemplated by the 2007 bill do? It would more than triple their existing workload. This 6-minute rule might become a 3-minute rule or a 2-minute rule. And it must also be remembered that the much smaller amnesty of 1986 for 2.7 million aliens was extended—or, rather, it took 17 years for that amnesty to be fully implemented. As late as fiscal year 2003, U.S. CIS was still adjudicating applications from the 1986 amnesty. This Committee is now contemplating an amnesty that would be approximately 4 times as large.

    Now, in the past U.S. CIS, when presented with a proposal like this, has said that the way it would deal with that surge of applications is by hiring contractors and that that might somehow solve the problem. But that approach is problematic for two reasons.

    First of all, it is unlikely that the necessary background checks and training of the contractors could be completed in time. There is already a massive backload at the Office of Personnel Management, which does background checks on U.S. Federal Government employees, of several hundred thousand people. The 2007 bill ignored that problem.

    The second problem is that contractors, even if they could be found and quickly put into place, they have to be trained.

    Now, one of the benefits of our current status adjudicators is that they are expert in immigration law and they are trained in detecting fraud in the applications for benefits. It is simply critical that in any amnesty the adjudicators be properly trained.

    Secondly, I want to talk about some national security concerns. An additional flaw in the 2007 bill is that it would have required any background check, as I mentioned, for the probationary visa to be accomplished within one business day. Now, that might be possible if the U.S. Government had a readily searchable computer database of every terrorist in the world. But, in fact, many of the records are paper records, and many of the records are held by foreign governments. So a 24-hour background check simply is impossible. Indeed, right now the FBI is doing name checks for U.S. CIS for applicants for benefits, and there is a huge backlog of about 60,000 name checks waiting at the FBI right now.

    Now, their objective, if all of the problems are solved, is to get to a world where most of the name checks can be done in 30 days and all of the name checks can be done in 90 days. But we are not there yet. So to imagine that we could do something like the 2007 bill and have a thorough name check in 24 hours is simply infeasible.

    But even when the Government has as much time as it needs, as much time as it wants to do a name check, terrorist applications can get through. Case in point: Mahmud “the Red” Abouhalima. He was given legal status under the 1986 amnesty as a seasonal agricultural worker even though he was driving a cab in New York. He subsequently was a ringleader in the 1993 plot against the World Trade Center, and his brother Mohammed also got amnesty fraudulently in the 1986 amnesty.

    Finally, I would like to conclude by pointing that a terrorist has one other option other than attempting to apply for the amnesty under his real name, and that is to simply invent a clean identity, a fictitious identity. The 2007 bill failed to include any safeguard for this problem, and I would urge you, if a bill is drafted again, it must close this loophole, because the former bill never contained any requirement that a secure, biometric embedded passport be provided to prove that the amnesty applicant is who he says he is.

    All it required was two scraps of paper, two easily forged documents, like a pay stub or a bank slip, saying that a person of this name exists. Under that bill, a person could walk into U.S. CIS office, call himself “Rumpelstiltskin,” offer two easily forged pieces of paper, and walk out the next day with a Federal Government-issued ID card under that name, which he could then use as a breeder document to get a driver's license, to board airplanes, to do all sorts of things. And that gap can be closed if the bill were to include a requirement that every amnesty applicant provide a passport, a secure passport of the type that has embedded biometrics, which some countries, but not all countries, currently issue today.

    In conclusion, there are very large bureaucratic problems, incapacity problems, and there is also the issue of terrorism, which is a very real threat. I am not saying that all or even a very large number of amnesty applicants would be terrorists, but the point is if an amnesty program is created, it has to take into this risk.

    Thank you.

    Written Statement for a Hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009: Can We Do It and How?

    The National Council of La Raza is a Hispanic civil rights organization that was founded in 1968. Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, La Raza's director of immigration campaigns, submitted this written testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security one week following the testimony presented above.

    Testimony Submitted to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security

    Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, Director of Immigration and National Campaigns

    National Council of La Raza

    May 7, 2009


    The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Through its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations (CBOs), NCLR reaches millions of Hispanics each year in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. To achieve its mission, NCLR conducts applied research, policy analysis, and advocacy, providing a Latino perspective in five key areas assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health. In addition, it provides capacity-building assistance to its Affiliates who work at the state and local level to advance opportunities for individuals and families. Founded in 1968, NCLR is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCLR serves all Hispanic subgroups in all regions of the country and has operations in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

    NCLR has a long history in the immigration debate. Our work on this issue is focused on ensuring that we have an immigration system that functions in the best interest of the nation. Immigration in the United States should be orderly and legal, promote economic growth, sustain our families, and be implemented in a way consistent with our nation's values. After more than two decades of neglect, our immigration system, far from achieving those goals, creates conditions that contradict or trample those values. The effects of our failed system have made the need for policy solutions urgent. The consequences of unabated toxic rhetoric around the issue have made progress a moral imperative. And the engagement and message from voters in recent elections have shown that real solutions on immigration are smart politics.

    This alignment indicates that the time for comprehensive immigration reform is now, and action can prove an important tool on our path to economic recovery. NCLR, our Affiliates, and our many coalition partners are committed to working with Congress to reform U.S. immigration laws in a way that promotes order, fairness, and above all, legality.

    Impact of Inaction on Latino Community

    Of the country's 45.5 million Latinos, about 39% are foreign-born, and a significant portion of Latinos live in families with mixed immigration status, making immigration policy an important issue for this community. In addition to an overhaul of the nation's immigration system that would deal effectively and humanely with undocumented immigrants, family reunification, worker protections, immigrant integration, and future flows, Latinos are also interested in forward movement on this issue because of its impact on civil rights.

    Failure to reform the nation's immigration system has led to piecemeal state and local measures that are often detrimental to the well-being and safety of Hispanic communities. These measures, combined with the toxic nature of the immigration debate, are contributing to an environment of intolerance against immigrants, regardless of immigration status, and against Latinos, who are often erroneously assumed to be all immigrants. Coinciding with the rise in vitriol in the immigration debate, the FBI has documented a nearly 40% increase in hate crimes targeting Latinos in the last four years, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) attributes the 47% rise in hate groups between 2000 and 2007 almost completely to the manipulation of anti-immigrant rhetoric. This rise in intolerance has resulted in tragic consequences for the Latino community, horrifyingly exemplified more recently by the brutal, fatal beatings of Luis Ramirez, Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay, and Marcelo Lucero for walking while being Latino.

    The harsh tone of the immigration debate galvanized Latino voters in the 2008 election, who turned out in record numbers and supported candidates favoring comprehensive immigration reform over candidates who engaged in anti-immigrant rhetoric. As election results and polling demonstrate, the country as a whole is in a more pragmatic place on this issue than Congress seems to realize. In 2008, reform-minded candidates won 20 out of 22 battleground races against opponents supporting deportation-only or restrictionist approaches, and 66% of voters in swing districts supported an approach that will result in undocumented immigrants becoming legal, tax-paying workers within the system.

    A Worsening Status Quo

    The nation's immigration system is in urgent need of reform that restores dignity and the rule of law and rejects a deteriorating status quo that does neither. NCLR believes that the United States can and should enforce its immigration laws. As with any set of laws, the nation should enforce them wisely and well. This requires an examination of the costs and benefits of particular enforcement strategies to ensure that the priorities and tactics we choose do not undercut other important laws, values, and goals. A true return to legality calls for a systemic overhaul that addresses problems exacerbated by over two decades of neglect, including:

    • A burgeoning undocumented population whose status makes it easier to prey upon and harder to integrate into American society
    • Unscrupulous employers ready to exploit undocumented workers to the disadvantage of all workers and good employers
    • Obstructed legal channels that keep families apart and legal workers out, as well as foster a black market and smuggling rings
    • Hard-line, high-cost enforcement strategies that do little to curb immigration but terrorize communities and decrease national security
    • A costly and ineffective patchwork of state and local laws that do little to address these problems but introduce greater chaos into an already broken system

    Half-measures will not work. In fact, failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform has left behind a lopsided and ineffective federal system of enforcement that attacks the symptoms but not the problem.

    As we have seen in recent years, trying to solve the problems of our broken immigration system through a deportation-only approach does not work. The strategy of using raids and local law enforcement agencies to round up, detain, and deport the undocumented population has been costly and ineffective. There has been a significant increase in interior immigration enforcement operations by the Department of Homeland Security in the form of large-scale worksite raids as well as raids on homes throughout the country. In 2007, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), more than 4,900 arrests were made in connection with worksite enforcement investigations, representing a 45-fold increase in criminal worksite arrests compared to fiscal year 2001. In 2008, ICE conducted a five-state sweep of Pilgrim's Pride poultry plants, and one year ago this month, it raided Agriprocessors, Inc., a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, a raid which ICE has called the largest in history. While the stated goal of the worksite and home raids has been to focus on unscrupulous employers and the worst of the worst in the undocumented population, the agency has not maintained that focus. The results have led to racial profiling and rounding up anyone who may be undocumented in order to increase the numbers of immigrants in detention. Instead of looking for solutions to our outdated, ineffective immigration system, resources have been allocated toward the expansion of SWAT-like teams that have descended on the homes of families who are suspected of being undocumented. In the ICE Fugitive Operations Program, ICE agents have not focused on immigrants who have criminal convictions, as intended by the program; instead, 73% of the immigrants apprehended from 2003 to 2008 had no criminal convictions.

    In addition to worksite and home raids, the rapid proliferation of agreements between local law enforcement agencies and the federal government to enforce complex immigration laws has led to further civil rights violations. U.S. citizens and legal immigrants are being racially profiled because of agreements between the federal government and local law enforcement agencies that allow police officers to question the immigration status of community members. As of March 2009, there are 67 law enforcement entities in 23 states that have signed memoranda of agreement (MOAs) with ICE as part of the 287(g) program. Reports by the government and nongovernmental organizations alike have found numerous problems with these agreements.

    As a result of the raids and the indiscriminate rounding up of immigrants (and, in some cases, U.S. citizens), the numbers of people who are in detention facilities has grown tremendously in recent years. As many as 30,000 immigrants are held in detention centers every day, which is a three-fold increase in the number of immigrant detainees from a decade ago. By the end of 2009, the U.S. government will hold more than 440,000 people in immigration custody in approximately 400 facilities at an annual cost of more than $1.7 billion. Immigrants are detained in a variety of facilities ranging from detention centers operated by ICE or private contractors to county jails under contract with ICE. Conditions in detention centers have come under fire after multiple news reports and investigations outlined the substandard conditions that led to the death of more than 80 immigrants in ICE custody since 2002. In one case, an immigrant from El Salvador was detained for 11 months and denied medical care. He was released from detention after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He subsequently died at the age of 36. The federal government has admitted medical negligence in a lawsuit that his family is pursuing. Cases such as this underscore the need for scrutiny of the standards in detention facilities.

    Upon examination, it becomes evident that the government's tactics of rounding up undocumented immigrants through raids and with local law enforcement cooperation have high costs that far outweigh the benefits. While Congress has increased the resources for enforcement efforts, it must ensure that there is oversight of enforcement resources and that the priorities are not lost.

    The zeal with which federal and local law enforcement agencies have applied enforcement policies has violated the rights and civil liberties of many in various communities, including legal residents and U.S. citizens. Latinos specifically have been racially profiled, arrested without warrant, detained without counsel, and in some cases even deported out of the country despite being legally present. These concerns over racial profiling and abuse of authority are not new for Latinos. In 1993, a report documented that U.S. citizens, as well as Hispanic immigrants, have been harassed by immigration authorities. More recently, a publication by the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that nearly 50% of respondents to their survey of Latinos in the South knew someone who had been treated unfairly by the police. In one case, a worker who was traveling to Mexico with his earned wages was stopped by a police officer in Alabama for failure to maintain a marked lane. Even though the worker was not arrested or charged with any crime, the officer confiscated his savings and wages of nearly $20,000, claiming it was drug money. Such policy is an abrogation of civil rights, common decency, and human dignity. This is not the way to resolve the problems in our immigration system.

    One of the primary concerns with the 287(g) program has been the blatant use of racial profiling, which affects all Latinos. There have been many news stories and investigative reports, as well as pending lawsuits, which suggest that law enforcement officers who are part of the 287(g) program are using race or Latino appearance to make stops and arrests for minor offenses. In Tennessee, where racial profiling data collection is mandated, and where there are two MOAs in place, a study of arrest data shows that the number of arrests of Latino defendants driving without a license in Davidson County more than doubled after the implementation of the 287(g) program. Alarmingly, jurisdictions that have been found to engage or have been accused of engaging in racial profiling have signed or are in the process of entering into 287(g) agreements. In communities like Rogers, Arkansas, community groups and immigrants advocates have strongly opposed the 287(g) agreement because the city was sued for unlawfully targeting Latino motorists for stops, searches, and investigations in 2001. When the City of Rogers applied for 287(g) authority to enforce immigration law, it was still under federal court supervision pursuant to the lawsuit.

    Another cost of the tactics that we have seen in recent years is the impact on families. One of the fundamental values we uphold in this country is the importance of family unity. Our broken immigration system has resulted in the degradation of this American value. Nationwide, there are approximately four million U.S. citizen children who have at least one undocumented parent and policies that target their parents have grave effects on these children. A report released by the Urban Institute and commissioned by NCLR in 2007 found that for every two immigrants apprehended in an immigration enforcement operation, one child is left behind. The impact of these operations on children, the most vulnerable group in our society, is significant and long-lasting. In the status quo, these children are victims of a system that disrupts their lives and forces them to bear the distress of being torn apart from their parents and loved ones. In one case, a U.S.-born citizen, Paul, who had been married to his wife, Teresa, since June 2005, is now raising their three-year-old daughter on his own as he waits to find out if his wife will be allowed to reenter the country. At 6:00 a.m. on a mid-November day in 2008, ICE agents pounded on the family's door and took his pregnant wife from their home. A month later, she was deported to Argentina. Paul remains in the U.S. with their daughter while he awaits news from their attorney. The couple was in the process of adjusting Teresa's immigration status. This is only one of many stories of families who are forced apart.

    In addition to tearing apart families living in the United States, our outdated immigration system also separates families through its untenable backlogs. In the family immigration system, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents may file applications for close relatives to join them in the United States. The applications are first processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and, upon approval, are sent overseas for further processing. While the applications are in process, the loved ones of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents wait for an appointment at the U.S. Consulate's office abroad. Currently, there are three Latin American countries on the State Department's list of top ten countries with the highest number of waiting-list applicants. Mexico alone has nearly one million applicants currently on the waiting list. In the case of one of our family immigration categories, spouses have remained separated from each other for more than a decade. We have neglected the legal avenues that were created to uphold our ideal of keeping families united. These practices chip away at the principle of family unity that has been a part of our immigration policies and strike the very core of our fundamental moral and civic values as a nation.

    Not only have failed deportation-only tactics raised concerns about the protection of civil rights, they also threaten the safety of communities throughout the country, evidenced by the chilling effect these agreements have on the relationships between local law enforcement officials and the communities they are responsible for protecting. In fact, local law enforcement agencies have spoken out against the 287(g) program because it goes against their efforts to build strong relationships in their communities, thus hindering their ability to earn the trust of community members. Impacted communities are less likely to report crimes or come forward as witnesses as a result of the wedge that has been driven between police and residents.

    Yet we shoulder all of these costs for a system that does not work. From 1990 to 2006, the United States witnessed a large increase in the number of undocumented immigrants entering the country. Over the past decade, billions of dollars have been spent on detention and deportation efforts without making a dent in the problem. The immigration enforcement agencies within the Department of Homeland Security have seen their budgets skyrocket while the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has grown. The annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased 332% and the number of Border Patrol agents has increased 276% since fiscal year 1993. Still, the undocumented population has increased threefold. We cannot solve the problems of our immigration system through expensive deportation-only strategies. The current undocumented population is estimated to be approximately 12 million people. If the United States is deporting approximately 250,000 immigrants per year, it would take about 40 years to deport our way out of this situation.

    Latinos and the Electorate as a Whole Want to See Solutions

    The American people have demonstrated in numerous national polls and multiple election cycles that they want to see a solution to the problem of our broken immigration system. They want to see a comprehensive approach that secures the border, cracks down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and requires all illegal immigrants to register and meet certain requirements to become legal over an enforcement-only approach that doesn't offer a real solution.

    Congress and the administration need to restore the rule of law and enact an immigration system that works for the good of the country. A true return to legality calls for a systemic overhaul that addresses the problems exacerbated by more than two decades of neglect. Given the complex nature of the problems in our immigration system, it is clear that this issue cannot be resolved in a piecemeal fashion. To be effective and achieve a solution that serves the national interest, reform must include measures that bring order to our borders, protect workers, and bring the undocumented out of the shadows.

    A part of comprehensive immigration reform includes the ability to secure our borders. From 2001 to 2008, the Bush administration spent billions of dollars to build barriers and increase the number of border patrol agents and other enforcement controls. Border security must be enacted in a fiscally responsible and efficient manner. This requires border enforcement policies that focus on the criminal elements and are developed in collaboration with communities on both sides of the border. Attention must be paid to the ports of entry to ensure that there are sufficient inspectors working in a safe and efficient environment in order to complete screening and inspections of visitors.

    Comprehensive immigration reform will restore order by getting approximately 12 million undocumented people in our country to come forward, obtain legal status, learn English, and assume the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Enforcement agencies need to follow the mandate of their programs and seek out those who have been convicted of committing violent crimes. Comprehensive immigration reform will allow immigrants who have been working, paying taxes, and learning English and who can pass background checks to become a part of the formal economy and work on the books, therefore contributing more to the tax rolls and making it more difficult for corrupt employers to cheat them and, consequently, all Americans.

    We recognize that people of goodwill differ on how to address the question of a future flow of potential workers from abroad. Indeed, NCLR itself feels somewhat conflicted because both sides of the argument bring legitimate perspectives to bear. On the one hand, we sympathize with those who have correctly noted the tendency of temporary worker programs to restrict workers rights. They also correctly note that many legal immigrants who enter via the family reunification system also work.

    On the other hand, it's hard to disagree with those who point out that virtually every credible, long-term economic projection strongly suggests that once our economy recovers, we will continue to need some number of workers from abroad to maximize economic growth. We also believe that U.S. citizens and legal immigrants wishing to reunite with family members abroad should be permitted to do so lawfully in a reasonable period of time.

    Clearly, our future immigration policy must balance these competing interests, and NCLR believes an appropriate balance is possible. Specifically, NCLR supports:

    • Increased family-based immigration, which includes reducing backlogs that have made it virtually impossible for all but the closest relatives of U.S. citizens to immigrate lawfully to the United States
    • A rational, needs-based process to link the future flow of employment-based visas to independent assessments of U.S. labor market needs
    • Full labor rights and protections for employment-based workers, accompanied by vigorous enforcement to ensure that any future flow program does not undercut wages and working conditions of domestic workers Some of our critics have confused our opposition to ineffective, counterproductive, and harmful enforcement efforts as tantamount to opposition to any form of enforcement. Permit me to disabuse them of that notion in this testimony. For the record, NCLR supports the right of the United States, as a sovereign nation, to control its borders. Furthermore, we believe it is in the interest of the Hispanic community, both substantively and politically, for our country to implement an enforcement system that is fair, effective, and humane. We do not believe any of those adjectives could be used to describe the status quo.

    Specifically, we believe that any effective enforcement system must be nondiscriminatory, must actually reduce the undocumented population in the U.S. as well as deter future unlawful entries, and must be implemented in a manner consistent with our highest ideals as a nation. We believe comprehensive immigration reform is the only way to achieve such a system, as described below.

    First, by adjusting the status of the bulk of the undocumented population in the U.S., and by increasing avenues for lawful entry, we can ensure that the proverbial front door to our country remains open; among other benefits, this will allow us to concentrate enforcement resources on closing the back door to illegal entries. In a society as free and open as ours, finding lawbreakers has been compared to finding a needle in a haystack. Our previous policy of increasing legal immigration backlogs and growing the criminalization of civil immigration offenses has been, in effect, creating more stacks of hay, making it harder to find the needles, even with greater resources. In this context, creating a path to permanent residence and eventual citizenship for the undocumented who pay taxes, learn English, and pass background checks is an essential part of any enforcement strategy. Simply put, these policies make the haystack smaller and more manageable.

    Second, we must recognize that there is no single strategy that will eliminate all forms of unauthorized entry and presence. Even effective elimination of all unauthorized entries, for example, would not affect the estimated 40% of the undocumented population that entered with lawful visas and then overstayed. Similarly, even a perfect employment verification system would not address those who entered the country for purposes other than employment. Thus, NCLR believes any effective enforcement system must consist of a series of layers of enforcement, none of which may in and of itself be 100% successful, but taken together would provide both an effective deterrent and swift and efficient punishment to those who break the law in the future.

    The first layer involves smart border enforcement, which provides a reasonable deterrent against unlawful entry of individuals, drugs, and human traffickers without adversely affecting the lawful flow of goods and commerce. It would require more efficient resources and infrastructure developments on ports of entry, allowing well-trained enforcement officers to focus on smugglers and traffickers. It would also require increased deployment of technology and greater cooperation with Mexico to reduce the southern flow of arms and the northern flow of drugs and traffickers.

    The second layer should focus on labor law enforcement to deter and punish unscrupulous employers from hiring and exploiting a vulnerable, undocumented labor force. Such a policy would have the salutary additional effect of improving wages, working conditions, and worker safety for the entire low-wage domestic workforce.

    The third and probably most important layer is an effective, nondiscriminatory worker verification system. Immigration experts have long recognized that the U.S. labor market is the single strongest incentive for unauthorized migration to the United States. But as this committee knows, the existing systems offer the worst of both worlds they permit widespread hiring of unauthorized workers while subjecting many lawful workers to intentional or inadvertent discrimination. Surely we can do better. NCLR supports the investment of sufficient resources to reduce error rates to reasonable levels and permit maximum access of lawful workers to mechanisms that document their employment status. Moreover, because we recognize that any system will produce some errors, we must insist on effective nondiscrimination provisions and swift redress mechanisms. I would also note that the vast majority of Latinos of my acquaintance want a verification system that permits them to demonstrate and prospective employers to confirm their authorization to work in the U.S. It is not the concept but the execution that raises concerns for most Hispanic Americans.

    The fourth layer of enforcement should focus on employers that engage in a pattern and practice of recruiting and hiring unauthorized workers. Any efficient law enforcement effort should target the big fish, yet in recent years it has been individual workers, rather than employers, that have borne the full brunt of immigration enforcement. Part of this involves a simple change of focus, and in this respect we are cautiously optimistic that Secretary Napolitano's recent announcement may reflect a more balanced strategy. But this may also require policy changes, including, for example, addressing loopholes in labor laws that permit employers to evade responsibility by labeling workers as independent contractors.

    Finally, we agree with the overwhelming majority of local law enforcement personnel that immigration should be a federal responsibility. Our own assessment, confirmed by independent reviews by the Government Accountability Office, a number of federal courts, and others, is that state and local enforcement has produced little enforcement benefit but resulted in widespread violations of the rights of citizens and lawful permanent residents. One possible exception involves agreements by state and local law enforcement to assess the immigration status of violent criminals, which seems to us a sensible way of reducing the burden on local governments while remaining focused on serious offenders.

    Taken together, NCLR believes that these five layers of enforcement would substantially reduce the current population of those who live outside the scope and protection of the law; maintain a credible deterrent at the border; crack down on unscrupulous employers for violations of labor and immigration law; establish an accurate and reliable employer verification system to reduce the scope of unlawful employment; and ensure the swift identification and disposition of violent criminals who have also violated immigration laws.

    Federal leadership is required to address the inconsistencies of current policies and ensure that our treatment of immigrants is aligned with America's best values and traditions. Congress and the administration can, and must, achieve comprehensive immigration reform this year because reform will demonstrate that America is true to its best values, not its worst instincts. How lawmakers resolve the immigration debate will say much about who we are as a country and as human beings.

    The American people have made it clear that they are interested in solutions to our country's difficult problems. Numerous polls and election results over multiple election cycles have demonstrated that Americans support a realistic solution that is tough but comprehensive, as opposed to half-measures that only focus on deportation. The status quo is unacceptable. We look forward to working with members of the subcommittee, as well as other members of Congress and the administration, to achieve comprehensive immigration reform this year.

    Speech by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer After Signing Senate Bill 1070

    Governor Jan Brewer came to national prominence in April 2010 when she signed Arizona's controversial Senate Bill 1070, which required state and local law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of anyone involved in a lawful stop, detention, or arrest where “reasonable suspicion exists” that the person is unlawfully present in the country. The law immediately kicked up a firestorm on all sides of the immigration debate. Brewer announced the signing of the bill at a press conference, and below are her comments on and defense of the new law.

    Phoenix, Arizona

    April 23, 2010

    Thank you for being here today, to join me as we take another step forward in protecting the state of Arizona.

    The bill I'm about to sign into law—Senate Bill 1070—represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix …

    … The crisis caused by illegal immigration and Arizona's porous border.

    This bill, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, strengthens the laws of our state.

    It protects all of us, every Arizona citizen and everyone here in our state lawfully.

    And, it does so while ensuring that the constitutional rights of ALL in Arizona remain solid—stable and steadfast.

    I will now sign Senate Bill 1070.

    For weeks, this legislation has been the subject of vigorous debate and intense criticism. My decision to sign it was by no means made lightly.

    I have listened patiently to both sides. I have considered the significance of this new law long into the night. I have prayed for strength and prayed for our state.

    I've decided to sign Senate Bill 1070 into law because, though many people disagree, I firmly believe it represents what's best for Arizona. Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state, to my Administration and to me, as your Governor and as a citizen.

    There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.

    We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north.

    We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act.

    But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.

    Yesterday, I announced the steps I was taking to enhance security along our border.

    Today—with my unwavering signature on this legislation—Arizona strengthens its security WITHIN our borders.

    Let me be clear, though: My signature today represents my steadfast support for enforcing the law—both AGAINST illegal immigration AND against racial profiling.

    This legislation mirrors federal laws regarding immigration enforcement.

    Despite erroneous and misleading statements suggesting otherwise, the new state misdemeanor crime of willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document is adopted, verbatim, from the same offense found in federal statute.

    I will NOT tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in Arizona.

    Because I feel so strongly on this subject, I worked for weeks with legislators to amend SB 1070, to strengthen its civil rights protections.

    That effort led to new language in the bill, language prohibiting law enforcement officers from “solely considering race, color, or national origin in implementing the requirements of this section …”

    The bill already required that it “shall be implemented in a manner consistent with federal laws regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens.”

    While the general protection was already included, I believe the issue is so important, we needed to make it CRYSTAL clear.

    And I believe that we need to more than simply inscribe it in statute.

    Words in a law book are of no use if our police officers are not properly trained on the provisions of SB 1070, including its civil rights provisions.

    Today I am issuing an executive order directing the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board—AZPOST—to develop training to appropriately implement SB 1070.

    Importantly, this training will include what DOES—and DOES NOT—constitute “reasonable suspicion” that a person is not legally present in the United States.

    Currently, AZPOST serves approximately 170 law enforcement agencies encompassing over 16,000 sworn peace officers, 9,000 correctional service officers, and 16 training academies.

    The AZPOST Board of Directors includes the Arizona Attorney General, the Directors of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Department of Corrections, several county sheriffs, and local police departments.

    I am also asking the Board to make recommendations on possible improvements to SB 1070 before the end of the year.

    For 28 years in public service, I have worked without fail to solve problems diligently and practically. I have done so always with an eye toward civility, and always with the greatest respect for the rule of law.

    This new law is no different: As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration I am EQUALLY committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this statute ever be misused to violate an individual's rights.

    Respect for the rule of law means respect for every law. I have led that way every day in every office I have ever held. That will not change.

    I have also spent my career in service to Arizona working to bring people together, no matter the color of their skin and no matter the depth of our disagreements.

    This bill—and this issue—will be no exception.

    While protecting our citizens is paramount, it cannot come at the expense of the diversity that has made Arizona so great. Nor can safety mean a compromise of freedom for some, while we, the many, turn a blind eye.

    We must acknowledge the truth—people across America are watching Arizona, seeing how we implement this law, ready to jump on even the slightest misstep.

    Some of those people from outside our state have an interest in seeing us fail.

    They will wait for a single slip-up, one mistake, and then they will work day and night to create headlines and get the face time they so desperately covet.

    We cannot give them that chance.

    We must use this new tool wisely, and fight for our safety with the honor Arizona deserves.

    We must react calmly.

    We must enforce the law evenly, and without regard to skin color, accent, or social status.

    We must prove the alarmists and the cynics wrong.

    I know in my heart that this great state, my home for more than 40 years, is up to the task.

    I believe every one of us wants to be safe, and none of us wants to compromise on the subject of civil rights.

    I believe we must love and honor those who fight beside us—just as we must love and honor those who look and believe nothing like we do.

    I believe Arizona, like America, is governed by laws.

    Good laws … well-intentioned laws … laws that confer respect and that demand respect in return.

    In his third State of the Union address, President Theodore Roosevelt said, “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.”

    So, let us move forward—ever mindful of our rights …—ever faithful to the law … and ever conscious of our bond as Arizonans, and the blessing we share together.

    Thank you.

    Immigration Speech by President Barack Obama

    During the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, President Obama promised Latino voters that in his first year as president he would push for passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. This speech in El Paso was an attempt by the president, who was then gearing up for his reelection campaign, to shore up Latino support and address their disappointment at his failure to follow through on his 2008 promise. In the speech he once again asserted his support for comprehensive immigration reform, lauded major increases in security along the U.S.-Mexico border, and contended that in light of the improved security, Republicans had no excuse to continue to block immigration reform.

    El Paso, TX

    May 10, 2011

    Hello, El Paso! It's great to be back here with all of you, and to be back in the Lone Star State. I love coming to Texas. Even the welcomes are bigger down here. So, to show my appreciation, I wanted to give a big policy speech … outdoors … right in the middle of a hot, sunny day.

    I hope everyone is wearing sunscreen.

    Now, about a week ago, I delivered the commencement address at Miami Dade Community College, one of the most diverse schools in the nation. The graduates were proud that their class could claim heritage from 181 countries around the world. Many of the students were immigrants themselves, coming to America with little more than the dreams of their parents and the clothes on their backs. A handful had discovered only in adolescence or adulthood that they were undocumented. But they worked hard and gave it their all, and they earned those diplomas.

    At the ceremony, 181 flags—one for every nation represented—was marched across the stage. Each was applauded by the graduates and relatives with ties to those countries. But then, the last flag—the American flag—came into view. And the room erupted. Every person in the auditorium cheered. Yes, their parents or grandparents—or the graduates themselves—had come from every corner of the globe. But it was here that they had found opportunity, and had a chance to contribute to the nation that is their home.

    It was a reminder of a simple idea, as old as America itself. E pluribus, unum. Out of many, one. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants—a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America's precepts. That's why millions of people, ancestors to most of us, braved hardship and great risk to come here—so they could be free to work and worship and live their lives in peace. The Asian immigrants who made their way to California's Angel Island. The Germans and Scandinavians who settled across the Midwest. The waves of the Irish, Italian, Polish, Russian, and Jewish immigrants who leaned against the railing to catch that first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.

    This flow of immigrants has helped make this country stronger and more prosperous. We can point to the genius of Einstein and the designs of I. M. Pei, the stories of Isaac Asimov and whole industries forged by Andrew Carnegie.

    And I think of the naturalization ceremonies we've held at the White House for members of the military, which have been so inspiring. Even though they were not yet citizens, these men and women had signed up to serve. One was a young man named Granger Michael from Papua New Guinea, a Marine who deployed to Iraq three times. Here's what he said about becoming an American citizen. “I might as well. I love this country already.” Marines aren't big on speeches. Another was a woman named Perla Ramos. She was born and raised in Mexico, came to the United States shortly after 9/11, and joined the Navy. She said, “I take pride in our flag … and the history we write day by day.”

    That's the promise of this country—that anyone can write the next chapter of our story. It doesn't matter where you come from; what matters is that you believe in the ideals on which we were founded; that you believe all of us are equal and deserve the freedom to pursue happiness. In embracing America, you can become American. And that enriches all of us.

    Yet at the same time, we are standing at the border today because we also recognize that being a nation of laws goes hand in hand with being a nation of immigrants. This, too, is our heritage. This, too, is important. And the truth is, we've often wrestled with the politics of who is and who isn't allowed to enter this country. At times, there has been fear and resentment directed toward newcomers, particularly in periods of economic hardship. And because these issues touch on deeply held convictions—about who we are as a people, about what it means to be an American—these debates often elicit strong emotions.

    That's one reason it's been so difficult to reform our broken immigration system. When an issue is this complex and raises such strong feelings, it's easier for politicians to defer the problem until after the next election. And there's always a next election. So we've seen a lot blame and politics and ugly rhetoric. We've seen good faith efforts—from leaders of both parties—fall prey to the usual Washington games. And all the while, we've seen the mounting consequences of decades of inaction.

    Today, there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Some crossed the border illegally. Others avoid immigration laws by overstaying their visas. Regardless of how they came, the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families. But they've broken the rules, and have cut in front of the line. And the truth is, the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are trying to immigrate legally.

    Also, because undocumented immigrants live in the shadows, they're vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses that skirt taxes, pay workers less than the minimum wage, or cut corners with health and safety. This puts companies who follow those rules, and Americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime or just a safe place to work, at an unfair disadvantage.

    Think about it. Over the past decade, even before the recession, middle class families were struggling to get by as costs went up but incomes didn't. We're seeing this again with gas prices. Well, one way to strengthen the middle class is to reform our immigration system, so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everyone else. I want incomes for middle class families to rise again. I want prosperity in this country to be widely shared. That's why immigration reform is an economic imperative.

    And reform will also help make America more competitive in the global economy. Today, we provide students from around the world with–to get engineering and computer science degrees at our top universities. But our laws discourage them from using those skills to start a business or power a new industry right here in the United States. So instead of training entrepreneurs to create jobs in America, we train them to create jobs for our competition. That makes no sense. In a global marketplace, we need all the talent we can get—not just to benefit those individuals, but because their contributions will benefit all Americans.

    Look at Intel and Google and Yahoo and eBay—these are great American companies that have created countless jobs and helped us lead the world in high-tech industries. Every one was founded by an immigrant. We don't want the next Intel or Google to be created in China or India. We want those companies and jobs to take root in America. Bill Gates gets this. “The United States will find it far more difficult to maintain its competitive edge,” he's said, “if it excludes those who are able and willing to help us compete.”

    It's for this reason that businesses all across America are demanding that Washington finally meet its responsibility to solve the immigration problem. Everyone recognizes the system is broken. The question is, will we summon the political will to do something about it? And that's why we're here at the border today.

    In recent years, among the greatest impediments to reform were questions about border security. These were legitimate concerns; it's true that a lack of manpower and resources at the border, combined with the pull of jobs and ill-considered enforcement once folks were in the country, contributed to a growing number of undocumented people living in the United States. And these concerns helped unravel a bipartisan coalition we forged back when I was a United States Senator. In the years since, “borders first” has been a common refrain, even among those who previously supported comprehensive immigration reform.

    Well, over the past two years we have answered those concerns. Under Secretary Napolitano's leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible. They wanted more agents on the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history. The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents—more than twice as many as there were in 2004, a build up that began under President Bush and that we have continued.

    They wanted a fence. Well, that fence is now basically complete.

    And we've gone further. We tripled the number of intelligence analysts working the border. I've deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California. We've forged a partnership with Mexico to fight the transnational criminal organizations that have affected both of our countries. And for the first time we are screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments—to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs coming north.

    So, we have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. But even though we've answered these concerns, I suspect there will be those who will try to move the goal posts one more time. They'll say we need to triple the border patrol. Or quadruple the border patrol. They'll say we need a higher fence to support reform.

    Maybe they'll say we need a moat. Or alligators in the moat.

    They'll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That's politics.

    But the truth is, the measures we've put in place are getting results. Over the past two and a half years, we've seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, and 64 percent more weapons than before. Even as we've stepped up patrols, apprehensions along the border have been cut by nearly 40 percent from two years ago—that means far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally.

    Also, despite a lot of breathless reports that have tagged places like El Paso as dangerous, violent crime in southwest border counties has dropped by a third. El Paso and other cities and towns along the border are consistently rated among the safest in the nation. Of course, we shouldn't accept any violence or crime, and we have more work to do. But this progress is important.

    Beyond the border, we're also going after employers who knowingly exploit people and break the law. And we are deporting those who are here illegally. Now, I know that the increase in deportations has been a source of controversy. But I want to emphasize: we are not doing this haphazardly; we are focusing our limited resources on violent offenders and people convicted of crimes; not families, not folks who are just looking to scrape together an income. As a result, we increased the removal of criminals by 70 percent.

    That is not to ignore the real human toll. Even as we recognize that enforcing the law is necessary, we don't relish the pain it causes in the lives of people just trying to get by. And as long as the current laws are on the books, it's not just hardened felons who are subject to removal; but also families just trying to earn a living, bright and eager students; decent people with the best of intentions. I know some here wish that I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that's not how a democracy works. What we really need to do is keep up the fight to pass reform. That's the ultimate solution to this problem.

    And I'd point out, the most significant step we can take now to secure the borders is to fix the system as a whole—so that fewer people have incentive to enter illegally in search of work in the first place. This would allow agents to focus on the worst threats on both of our borders—from drug traffickers to those who would come here to commit acts of violence or terror.

    So, the question is whether those in Congress who previously walked away in the name of enforcement are now ready to come back to the table and finish the work we've started. We have to put the politics aside. And if we do, I'm confident we can find common ground. Washington is behind the country on this. Already, there is a growing coalition of leaders across America who don't always see eye-to-eye, but who are coming together on this issue. They see the harmful consequences of this broken system for their businesses and communities. They understand why we need to act.

    There are Democrats and Republicans, including former-Republican Senator Mel Martinez and former-Bush administration Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; leaders like Mayor Michael Bloomberg; evangelical ministers like Leith Anderson and Bill Hybels; police chiefs from across the nation; educators and advocates; labor unions and chambers of commerce; small business owners and Fortune 500 CEOs. One CEO had this to say about reform. “American ingenuity is a product of the openness and diversity of this society…. Immigrants have made America great as the world leader in business, science, higher education and innovation.” That's Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, and an immigrant himself. I don't know if you're familiar with his views, but let's just say he doesn't have an Obama bumper sticker on his car.

    So there is a consensus around fixing what's broken. Now we need Congress to catch up to a train that's leaving the station. Now we need to come together around reform that reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants; that demands everyone take responsibility.

    So what would comprehensive reform look like?

    First, we know that government has a threshold responsibility to secure the borders and enforce the law. Second, businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers. Third, those who are here illegally have a responsibility as well. They have to admit that they broke the law, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English. And they have to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they can get in line for legalization.

    And fourth, stopping illegal immigration also depends on reforming our outdated system of legal immigration. We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only study here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here. In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the U.S. were founded by immigrants, leading to more than 200,000 jobs in America. I'm glad those jobs are here. And I want to see more of them created in this country.

    We need to provide farms a legal way to hire the workers they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status.

    Our laws should respect families following the rules—reuniting them more quickly instead of splitting them apart. Today, the immigration system not only tolerates those who break the rules, it punishes the folks who follow the rules. While applicants wait for approval, for example, they're often forbidden from visiting the United States. Even husbands and wives may have to spend years apart. Parents can't see their children. I don't believe the United States of America should be in the business of separating families. That's not right. That's not who we are.

    And we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents—by denying them the chance to earn an education or serve in the military. That's why we need to pass the Dream Act. Now, we passed the Dream Act through the House last year. But even though it received a majority of votes in the Senate, it was blocked when several Republicans who had previously supported the Dream Act voted no.

    It was a tremendous disappointment to get so close and then see politics get in the way. And as I gave the commencement at Miami Dade, it broke my heart knowing that a number of those promising, bright students—young people who worked so hard and who speak to what's best about America—are at risk of facing the agony of deportation. These are kids who grew up in this country, love this country, and know no other place as home. The idea that we would punish them is cruel and it makes no sense. We are a better nation than that.

    So we're going to keep up the fight for the Dream Act. We're going to keep up the fight for reform. And that's where you come in. I will do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues. We've already held a series of meetings about this at the White House in recent weeks. And we've got leaders here and around the country helping to move the debate forward. But this change has to be driven by you—to help us push for comprehensive reform, and to identify what steps we can take right now—like the Dream Act and visa reform—areas where we can find common ground among Democrats and Republicans to begin fixing what's broken.

    I am asking you to add your voices to this debate—and you can sign up to help at We need Washington to know that there is a movement for reform gathering strength from coast to coast. That's how we'll get this done. That's how we can ensure that in the years ahead we are welcoming the talents of all who can contribute to this country; and that we are living up to that basic American idea: you can make it if you try.

    That idea is what gave hope to José Hernández, who is here today. José's parents were migrant farm workers. And so, growing up, he was too. He was born in California, though he could have just as easily been born on the other side of the border, had it been a different time of year, because his family moved with the seasons. Two of his siblings were actually born in Mexico.

    They traveled a lot and José joined his parents picking cucumbers and strawberries. He missed part of the school year when they returned to Mexico each winter. He didn't learn English until he was 12. But José was good at math, and he liked it. The great thing about math was that it's the same in every school, and it's the same in Spanish.

    So he studied hard. And one day, standing in the fields, collecting sugar beets, he heard on a transistor radio that a man named Franklin Chang-Diaz—a man with a name like his—was going to be an astronaut for NASA.

    José decided that he could be an astronaut, too.

    So he kept studying, and graduated high school. He kept studying, earning an engineering degree and a graduate degree. He kept working hard, ending up at a national laboratory, helping to develop a new kind of digital medical imaging system.

    And a few years later, he found himself more than 100 miles above the surface of the earth, staring out the window of the Shuttle Discovery, remembering the boy in the California fields with a crazy dream and an unshakable belief that everything was possible in America.

    That is what we are fighting for. We are fighting for every boy and girl like José with a dream and potential just waiting to be tapped. We are fighting to unlock that promise, and all that it holds not just for their futures, but for the future of this great country.

    Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

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