by Moses Apsan, Esq.
The recent increase in raids by immigration officers and other law enforcement agents have augmented the urgency for comprehensive immigration reform. The almost daily occurrence of "sweeps" and "roundups" has made clear the underlying problem that America's current immigration system is severely broken.
Anybody living in areas were immigrants live knows that our nation's immigration policies have failed miserably. By not having a reasonable immigration policy in place, we have a system that practically begs people to break the law. As our own labor force grows older and better educated, our economy is looking for younger, less educated workers to replace the growing number of American workers who are pursing other opportunities. Instead of providing legal pathways for the workers our economy needs, and a modern system for ensuring that employers follow the law, current immigration policies our pouring millions of dollars into policies that are meant to send a political message not solve the problem.
Round-ups in small communities won't stop the influx of immigrants from entering our country illegally. And spending $50 billion for a 700 mile fence to nowhere is a colossal waste of time and money. The truth is that we need 21st century solutions to the problems we face at our border, and we need an immigration system that can respond to the economic realities of today.. Our economy relies heavily upon the contributions of these workers, many of whom are willing take jobs Americans are less interested in.
The raids clearly point out that our immigration system is broken, and that America needs comprehensive immigration reform now. We just cannot allow these raids to go on and disrupt not only our economy, but our local communities.
The increases in sweeps have struck fear in immigrant communities everywhere, forcing people back into the shadows and making them more vulnerable to crime and exploitation.
These raids have torn communities apart. It's not just the workers, but their families, the schools, other businesses and agencies in the community that have suffered.
It is true that immigration enforcement is required of federal agents. But piecemeal enforcement such as raids and other tactics that give the appearance of "cracking down" on immigration don't address the deep problems plaguing our immigration system.
What America needs is an immigration policy that allows us to grow our economy with legal workers. A reasonable, orderly, tightly controlled worker program would go far in helping to eliminate the dangerous human smuggling and border crossings that currently plague our system, and would also alleviate such related crimes as the use of false documentation. In addition, such a policy would significantly diminish illegal immigration by creating a legal avenue by which people could enter the U.S.-something that barely exists today. In fact, current U.S. immigration law provides just 5,000 annual permanent visas for low-skilled "essential" workers, versus an estimated annual demand for 500,000 such workers.
The time is ripe for Congress and the Administration to step up and enact real reform legislation that benefits the economy, by providing a legal path to match willing employees with willing workers; that benefits national security, by allowing law enforcement to go after real criminals and leave honest working people alone; that benefits our country, by helping undocumented immigrants come out of the shadows, earn legal status, and continue to contribute to the economic and social wealth of the nation.