the immigraton crackdown is making
us less safe; our government is
wasting precious resources targeting
people who cause us no harm.
unreported because the victims fear discovery by ICE.
Hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Skinheads and
neo-Nazis are riding the anti-immigrant wave and
recruiting additional support. The Southern Poverty
Law Center attributes the 48 percent growth in hate
groups in the U.S. since 2000 to growing anti-immigrant sentiment. 53 According to the FBI, anti-Hispanic
hate crimes jumped 25 percent since 2004.54
The Wrong Target
Is our nation any safer because families like the
Gómezes and Benítezes have been deported? It’s likely we’re actually less safe, because our government
is wasting precious resources targeting people who
cause us no harm.
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff conceded last year
that his immigration agents were busy chasing maids
and landscapers instead of focusing on drug dealers
and terrorists. Even former CIA counterterrorism chief
Vincent Cannistrano lamented that a system that targets whole classes of people in an effort to prevent terrorism is exactly the wrong way to go about it.
Deportations are not only a drain on federal coffers,
they ravage our economy. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, by 2010 America will have 168 million
jobs and only 158 million Americans to fill them.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty
Undocumented workers pay sales taxes, real
estate taxes and income taxes. In April 2008, the
Congressional Budget Office estimated that a mandatory employment verification system would cut
$17.3 billion from federal revenues over nine years by
pushing undocumented workers out of jobs where
they pay taxes. 55
Immigrants today feel that the welcome mat has
been pulled from under them, driving further underground even those eligible for relief from deportation.
Current immigration policy creates an ever-growing
undocumented population, permits exploitation and
all too often results in human tragedy.
The U.S. can cope with the new groups of immigrants and, at the same time, protect national security, without tarnishing our principles of justice. How?
With reality-based immigration reform that permits
government officials to track the whereabouts of
immigrants, responds to the demands of the U.S.
labor market, and preserves the fundamental principle of family unity. Such reform will also undermine
the power of smugglers and unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrants. By permitting undocumented immigrants already in the United States to
embark on a path to legalization, and controlling
future immigration through legal channels, enforcement efforts could focus instead on identifying those
with true intent to do us harm.
Clearly, we need to enforce immigration law; but
we need laws that can reasonably be enforced. Lawmakers at all levels should abandon measures that
squander our funds and misdirect our attention by
criminalizing immigrants for civil violations. Legislative reform that treats immigrants humanely will
strengthen our economy and will ensure that law
enforcement focuses on fighting real threats. Without this, the tragedies represented by the caseloads of
agencies like FIAC will continue to grow.