“Our immigration system is broken.” You hear that a lot. So — what does it mean?
It means that our system of immigration laws is archaic, that these laws were written decades ago and do not work as intended, and that “fully enforcing” these laws — rather than reforming the laws — to their completion would do irreparable harm to our nation. Our laws make no sense: for native-born Americans, for competing in a global economy, and for immigrants, and for out nation’s best interests.
Why? We have 11 million undocumented immigrants who have no ability to “get right with the law,” no line where they can go to the back of, or any ability to adjust their status. We have a legal visa system that is 5 decades old and makes little sense for today’s economic needs and American families. About half of these 11 million people have been in this country for at least 15 years; many millions came in the mid-1990s. They live in every city and state in the country, have millions of U.S. citizen spouses and children, and work alongside tens of millions of native-born citizens, adding roughly $5 trillion to the American economy over a 10-year period.
It is a fully-debunked myth to say immigrants compete in meaningful numbers with native-born Americans or are taking jobs away. Overall, immigrants have almost no short-term impact on wages. In the long term, immigrants not only raise productivity and economic growth, but wages for native-born Americans as well. Areas and industries with higher concentrations of high-skilled immigrants have seen wage growth for native-born Americans that has outpaced the rest of the country.
We have problems with our high-skilled immigration system — but instead of pointing at the problems and blaming all immigrants, let’s fix the system to make it easier to attract the best and brightest and to protect American workers. A modern legal visa system will help rebuild a 21st century middle class in a global economy.
The Administration’s new interior enforcement memos lay the groundwork for a large-scale ramp up in deportations of undocumented immigrants from every corner of the U.S. They remove the critical deportation priorities that allow law enforcement to focus on actual public safety threats such as MS-13 and rapists and murderers. This is not rhetoric — it is the reality of where we find ourselves as a country today.
Note for example this story in the New York Times this week, “Police Fear Trump Immigration Orders May Handcuff Effort to Fight Gangs,” which outlined the problems Suffolk County police and prosecutors are facing in solving the murders of five teenagers because undocumented immigrants in their community are too afraid to cooperate because they fear incarceration and deportation by the federal government.
There are more stories like this in communities across the country, and this is the real life problem with expanding the definition of what is a “criminal” to include everyone whose only violation is immigration-related.
If the goal is to find and deport violent criminals — like rapists and murderers — who are in the country illegally, then it is a disservice to these goals when taxpayer dollars and law enforcement time are spent rounding up undocumented mothers who have no criminal record, or victims of domestic violence when at a courthouse receiving a protective order.