Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Secure the Borders" Debate, Billions of Dollars Later

Birthright citizenship and border security "debate" has/is/always will be nothing more than distraction from progress on an issue that will not be a winner for the party in opposition to reform.  Slate:

I seriously doubt that the American public has either the interest in, or the stomach for, a long, drawn-out constitutional debate about birthright citizenship. Polls show the public favors the anti-immigrant Arizona SB1070 but overwhelmingly supports legalization for undocumented immigrants as well. Apparently, the majority of the public is open to having a real conversation about immigration policy and solving the undocumented immigration challenge. This attack on U.S. born children—or, per the ugly moniker, "anchor babies"? That's just a distraction.

Challenges to birthright citizenship are not new. They emerge in predictable historical cycles. Like other attention-grabbing anti-immigrant initiatives, they may even spark debate, but not the kind of honest discussion necessary for immigration reform. Proposals couched in enforcement-only, anti-immigrant sentiment naturally encounter reflexive push-back from immigrant rights supporters advocating legalization. That's why the polarized battle over closing the border and increasing enforcement, versus enacting a legalization program, leaves little room for meaningful conversation. For any real change to come about, we must talk about the needs of employers and the contributions of immigrants. The vitriol about pregnant foreigners who sneak across our borders prevents us from getting an accurate picture of who most immigrants are—both documented and undocumented—and why they continue to arrive instead of trying to achieve their dreams at home. For example, our instincts tell us that reducing the flow across the southern border will require the expansion of the economy and job growth in Mexico. Yet formulating a plan to work with Mexico on its economy has never been part of the discussion.
The real problem with the enforcement-only approach to the undocumented immigration challenge is obvious: It's pretty much all we've been doing for the past decade, and what's the result been? Billions of dollars later, we are left with daily deaths at the border, as an enforcement regime funnels the continuous flow of migrants through the most treacherous terrain and ICE raids. Our borders separate loved ones as detention facilities bulge to the breaking point.

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