Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Case for Comprehensive Immigration Reform


By Rev. J. George Reed and Chris Liu-Beers

Across North Carolina, nearly everyone agrees that the current immigration system is broken. So if the system is broken, why do we continue pouring money into it? Instead, we should take this historic opportunity to fix it.

Many politicians are saying that they want to address the root causes of our immigration situation, but they go on to talk only about increased enforcement. Of course, we are a nation of laws and the rule of law should be upheld. But experience and common sense show us that merely building a bigger wall won’t work because enforcement alone does not deal with the root causes. If we’re going to address the causes of immigration, we need to have a serious conversation about factors like American trade policy (including NAFTA) and the lack of opportunity in many “sending” countries. When NAFTA went into effect in the mid-1990’s, its unfair trade provisions allowed U.S.-subsidized corn to flood the Mexican market, bankrupting nearly 2 million Mexican corn farmers virtually overnight. This major economic disaster had a big impact on immigration into the U.S. from Mexico.

The bottom line is that Congress and the President basically have three options for addressing immigration – and only one of them will work. 1) Allow the current immigration mess to deteriorate further, a prospect that frustrates the vast majority the American people. 2) Hold out for the ugly fantasy that we are going to get rid of 12 million undocumented immigrants, a prospect as unrealistic as it is un-American. 3) Move forward with a comprehensive plan that restores the rule of law, gets people in the system, makes employers play by the rules, and creates a stable, sustainable and legal system of immigration.

Since we’re not going to deport 12 million people, we need comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship in order to assimilate new Americans. We already know that building a bigger wall won’t help. We’ve tried that for the last few years with nothing to show for it. What we need is an orderly system that works for both immigrants and our country.

Click here to read the full Op-ed


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