While border security is integral to ending the illegal immigration crisis in America, it must be accompanied by interior enforcement. Nearly one half of illegal aliens entered the country legally through a tourist, student, or other temporary visa; but did not leave once their visa expired. Furthermore, there are already 11-20 million illegal aliens already living within our borders. Even a completely impregnable border would not address either of these problems.
The most basic principle of America’s interior enforcement policy is that every illegal alien should return to their home country in order to be considered for legal status. There is absolutely no justification for them to live here. Illegal aliens not only broke the law to come into this country, they continue to break the law every minute they remain in this country. As detailed previously under “Legal Immigration,” there is no shortage of people waiting to come to this country legally. Whatever the benefits of immigration may be, there is no reason why they could not be filled by legal immigrants. Many illegal immigrants are nice, hardworking, and otherwise law-abiding people. However, so are many of the millions of people waiting patiently in line outside of the country, and it is not fair to give preference to those who broke the law.
Opponents of this principle set up a straw man by citing the only alternative to amnesty as mass deportation of the entire illegal population, which they claim is impossible. The truth is that we do need to deport every single alien so that they return home.
Historical precedent supports this fact. In 1942 America and Mexico agreed on the Bracero Program, a temporary worker system created for the southwest to alleviate labor shortages caused by World War II. However, like many “temporary” government programs, it continued long after the war had ended. When the government tried to scale back the program, millions of illegal aliens came into the country.
In 1954, President Eisenhower instituted “Operation Wetback,” an admittedly insensitive name by today’s standards. Yet, in less than six months, 1,075 border patrol agents teamed up with local law enforcement in Arizona, California, Texas, Utah, Nevada, and Idaho to deport approximately 100,000 illegal immigrants. Knowing that the government was serious about enforcing the law, over one million illegals departed voluntarily.
By simply deporting illegal aliens, when law enforcement comes across them under whatever circumstances, while stringently enforcing the laws on the books, will greatly reduce the illegal population in the country. The immigration control organization Numbers USA calls this strategy “Attrition Through Enforcement.” They explain: “The principle behind Attrition Through Enforcement is that living illegally in the United States will become more difficult and less satisfying over time when the government – at ALL LEVELS – enforces all of the laws already on the books.” By following this strategy, most illegal aliens will self-deport.
- Stop the Hiring of Illegal Aliens: The majority of illegal aliens come to America to work. There are an estimated 8 million illegal aliens in the workforce. If they cannot find employment, most will leave. This will open up millions of jobs for American citizens. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 prohibited the hiring of illegal aliens. However, this provision has never been truly enforced. One difficulty under the regime created by IRCA is that it placed the burden upon employers to determine the legal status of their workers by requiring them to determine whether or not their ID was valid.
In 1996, Congress created the Basic Pilot Program, better known as E-Verify. Under E-Verify, a new hire gives his social security or alien registration number. This would prevent an illegal alien, even with a good fake ID, from fooling an employer.
Statues in states such as Arizona, Georgia and Alabama, as well as localities such as Hazleton, Pennsylvania, have mandated the use of the E-Verify system. In Arizona, the first state to require E-Verify, the illegal population has gone down by 18% since the law went into effect. The system should be instituted nationwide. However, because the federal government has failed to enforce other immigration laws, it is important that states maintain the right to enforce employer sanction laws.
- Increase Deportations: The Obama administration goes out of its way to prevent the deportation of illegal aliens. In the rare cases where they sanction an employer of illegals, they often set the workers loose. The administration has set up what they call “enforcement priorities” where they will not deport entire classes of illegal aliens including: those who have not committed other serious crimes, those who would be eligible for the DREAM Act amnesty, those who have U.S. citizen family members, and even those who claim to be in a committed homosexual relationship with a U.S. citizen.
As previously stated, ensuring illegal aliens leave their home country does not require rounding up every single illegal alien, racial profiling, or sweeps through neighborhoods. However, when law enforcement officials come across people who they believe may be illegal aliens, they should check their status and once it is determined someone is here illegally, they should be deported.
- Increase State and Local Involvement in Immigration Enforcement: The Obama administration and other critics have portrayed Arizona’s SB 1070 law as attempting to undermine the federal government’s authority pertaining to immigration enforcement. In reality, it mirrors federal immigration law, and simply empowers properly trained state and local law enforcement to check the status of potential illegal aliens under the same standards as the federal government.
In addition to SB 1070 and similar legislation, there are two federal programs—287(g) and the Secure Communities cooperation program—that allow the federal government to train and cooperate with local law enforcement in targeting illegal immigration. The Obama administration, however, has greatly restricted these programs to only deport illegal aliens who are already convicted of serious crimes.
Regardless of the method, local law enforcement should act as a vital component in helping to enforce immigration law in the United States.
- End Sanctuary Policies: While Arizona merely seeks to assist federal immigration enforcement, there are some states and localities that actually interfere with federal immigration laws. Over 100 cities, as well as a handful of states, have enacted so-called sanctuary policies that prohibit city employees from cooperating with federal immigration authorities to enforce this country’s immigration laws. For example, San Francisco law prohibits “city employees from helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with immigration investigations or arrests unless such help is required by federal or state law or a warrant." Although the Obama administration sued Arizona, they have stated that they will not pursue any action against sanctuary cities. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 explicitly prohibits sanctuary policies, but like most of our immigration laws, the federal government has refused to enforce them. City and state legislatures should end all sanctuary policies. Failing that, they should be denied all federal funds.
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