Border is secure, but Congress won’t pass immigration reform

WASHINGTON —As commencement season gets underway in earnest, as young adults take their places in formal ceremonies marking their achievements, a small number of them hide a delicate secret that shadows their accomplishments and limits their options: They are illegal immigrants. They live in fear of deportation. They cannot travel freely, seek the best jobs or sign up for military service.

Even if they have just completed college, even if they have excellent grades, even if they have mastered chemistry or mathematics or computer science, they will encounter immediate and daunting barriers. It doesn’t matter that some offer skills for which companies are desperate; they still aren’t likely to find themselves in demand.

And that’s just crazy. The nation’s immigration policy is irrational — warped by nativism, finger-pointing and political cowardice. As President Barack Obama noted in a speech yesterday, the economy would be helped — not hurt — by  immigration reform.

But Obama also knows perfectly well that Congress won’t pass a comprehensive immigration reform proposal anytime soon. Republicans refused to support George W. Bush’s proposal to modernize immigration law, and the GOP base has only grown more xenophobic since then.

Just take a look at GOP-controlled state legislatures around the country, which are rushing to adopt proposals modeled after the Arizona law that recalls apartheid. Even Georgia’s recently-passed Arizona-“lite” is certain to increase the harassment of motorists and workers with tan complexions and Spanish surnames.

Nativist sentiments have deepened despite Obama’s clear record of amping up border security. If conservatives were waiting for a less-porous border before they embraced immigration reform, they’d be lining up to support a bill: the border is more secure than ever before.

Apparently believing that conservatives would support a comprehensive bill if they were reassured about border protections, Obama has sent National Guard troops and drone surveillance aircraft to the Southern boundary. He hired more border agents. He has pursued an aggressive policy of deportations — rounding up more illegal immigrants than his predecessor.

But the hostility toward illegal immigrants isn’t based on any rational fear of cross-border narco-violence or jihadist-inspired terrorism. It’s based on deep-seated prejudices stoked by a faltering economy and an increasingly diverse population. Many native-born Americans wrongly believe that illegal workers have sapped our strength, reversed our economic fortunes and set us on a course toward decline. But let’s not kid ourselves: We aren’t prepared to grant legal status even to those who are ambitious, resourceful and hardworking — who would give to the country a great deal more than they would take from it.

Last December, a GOP Senate filibuster blocked the DREAM Act, which would have granted a path to legalization to about one million young adults who were brought here illegally when they were kids. To qualify, they would have had to complete two years of college or two years of service in the Armed Forces.

The DREAM Act might have passed if Democrats had pursued it earlier in Obama’s presidency, when they were more secure in their control of Congress. But at the time, immigration advocates opposed any remedy short of legalization for the entire population of 11 million or so. Their resistance to smaller steps was a mistake.

The president is now under intense pressure from Latino activists to use his executive authority to shelter those illegal workers who have not committed crimes since their entry. Some pro-immigrant groups have zeroed in on young adults who would be eligible for the DREAM Act as candidates for a policy of benign neglect by customs officials.

The president has resisted, but he ought to take the request more seriously. While Congress panders to the xenophobic impulses of frightened voters, the country is squandering some of its best and brightest. Obama could salvage some of that talent with a policy of selective deportation.

275 comments Add your comment

silly billy

May 11th, 2011
2:32 pm

Why fight it? If you don’t like a particular group of people for whatever reason, use the million little cuts method that our mideastern friends use. don’t tip, don’t vote, don’t use their products, don’t give to their charities, don’t hire, don’t promote, don’t do them any favors, b/c you are most likely supporting them form craddle to grave with your tax dollars anyways. If they want class warfare, let’s give it to them. If you’ve made good decisions in your life and have a little money in your pocket to show for it, you can’t loose a class war against poor, uneducated, formerly and soon to be incarcerated, victim-class, non-contributors, so do what you gotta do.

Kamchak

May 11th, 2011
2:33 pm

Posting rapper “songs” that thugs write and then get invited to the WH to perform, speeches made by Black Panther thugs about killing white people which you would like to forget…… fair and balanced?

Posted by one who still think they “still live in trees.”

Your momma should've used a condom

May 11th, 2011
2:36 pm

kam-the period actually goes after the quotation mark.

Ann

May 11th, 2011
2:37 pm

Earth to Cynthia. I don’t care how many senators or other politicians state something untrue – shocking, I know – the border is anything but secure and now Obama doesn’t want illegal crossers to be detained. So, your premise is completely flawed and your arguments are lame. All of us nativist haters just like to hate on people – right? Wrong. We just think if we should obey the law so should others. And as the economy is struggling and really hurting all of us it’s more difficult to want a “path to citizenship” (and all the attendant services and entitlements) for millions and millions of people who have an entitlement attitude. Cynthia should write for comedy – her columns are laughable.

Jack

May 11th, 2011
2:38 pm

“Border is secure”. I’ll have whatever Tucker is drinking or smoking.

kayaker 71

May 11th, 2011
2:42 pm

Kamchak,

This guy belongs in a tree. And this doesn’t upset you? I may have misjudged you after all thinking that you might have a simple thread of decency in you. BTW, the Black Panther thug that gave the speech on killing white people……. let’s put him up there too.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 11th, 2011
2:44 pm

The DREAM Act is a hybrid of a good idea and a terrible one. While I am an open borders sort, I fully agree with moving to the front of the line those who have served our noble military for four years. On the other hand, I cannot fathom any reason to honor those who laid about a frat house and majored in history. The former represents a true commitment to the prospective new homeland, the latter is merely living off the fat of the land – we already have too many of the latter.

OnePercent

May 11th, 2011
2:45 pm

“Many native-born Americans wrongly believe that illegal workers have sapped our strength, reversed our economic fortunes and set us on a course toward decline.”

Actually simple logic will prove that illegal immigrants who are taking American jobs have indeed sapped our strength and reversed our economic fortunes. There are 22 million Americans who are currently unemployed, despite this fact more than 5% of American jobs are currently occupied by illegal immigrants. Ask yourself this, why would an employer break the law to hire an illegal immigrant when there are so many Americans currently out of work? The answer is really quite simple: because illegal immigrants will work for much less money than an American would work for, not to mention that illegals aren’t going to apply for workman’s comp if they are hurt on the job and they sure aren’t going to collect unemployment insurance if they get laid off. Illegal immigrants are hurting working class Americans everyday by taking our jobs and driving down our wages!

Kamchak

May 11th, 2011
2:46 pm

I may have misjudged you…

Don’t care.

lama lama

May 11th, 2011
3:02 pm

one percent,

???

Emmanuel Hall

May 11th, 2011
3:25 pm

This has nothing to do with anything other than race and the vote. Republicans know that if the doors are opened to these brown skin people from south of the border, it will mean more votes aganist them and their heartless policies.
President Obama can and should take a strong stance and use his excutive power and give amnisty to every crime free child,born in this country, 18 and younger or who have served in the military or who have completed high school or college training. Mr. Obama should take a close look at what President’s Reagan, Ford and Carter did.

[...] Cynthia Tucker Atlanta Journal Constitution Border is secure, yet Congress won’t pass immigration reform Apparently desiring that conservatives would support a extensive check if they were reassured about limit protections, Obama has sent National Guard infantry and worker notice aircraft to a Southern boundary. He hired some-more limit agents. He has followed an assertive process of deportations — rounding adult some-more bootleg immigrants than his predecessor. [...]

Paddy O

May 11th, 2011
5:34 pm

yes, the ugly arrogant elitest intolerant limo liberal. the most hypocritical, and worthless, entity in this country.

Paddy O

May 11th, 2011
5:36 pm

emmanual – and this impetus for that action to generate more democratic (losers dependent upon the government) voters? Is that really your assertion?

William Lyrberg

May 11th, 2011
6:33 pm

Cynthia, I think it would be good if you told the truth about the “Dream Act”. The bill that was defeated, and which Obama is trying to resurrect is nothing more than blanket amnesty for all illegals.

I’m not sure if you read that bill, but I did.! It had so many loopholes in it that any illegal would qualify.

The way it was written, a person could have crossed the border today, and tomorrow qualify for amnesty tomorrow.

Amnest for those brought here as chlidren makes some sense, but the “DREAM ACT” was a backdoor amnesty plan all illegals.

Furthermore, to claim that the border is secure is totally asinine!

Brittanicus

May 11th, 2011
6:41 pm

On March 17, 2011, Democrat Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada speculated for reasons known to himself, that the TEA PARTY would be short lived and disappear? Where he came up with this hypothesis makes the Tea Party branch members laugh, as the Tea Party is continually growing and now in the tens of millions. As of today there are thousands of these cells, as the spirited Founder and chair Rev. William Temple of Freedom Jamboree and the Tea Party National Straw Poll Convention explained at the news conference. Temple reprimanded the majority Speaker of the House Republicans, John Boehner. He had not sufficiently pushed for a cut in the massive federal deficit of 14.5 Trillion dollars and climbing each day. One of the main issues that must be exposed is the distraction of the illegal immigration invasion. This is currently associated with jobs, the economy, gasoline prices and banks that not lending to home buyers.

In El Paso, Texas, yesterday president Obama made a speech relating border security and the need to allow more immigrants into America? My assumption we should ask the 22 million Americans who are unable to find a full time jobs, specifically the poorer workers who don’t have a higher education? So just what we necessitate is more immigrant labor so says the President? According to the president’s speech and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano the border is more secure now, than it’s ever been? Yet according to the General Accounting office “illegal aliens can only be stopped along 129 miles of our nearly 2,000 mile long border with Mexico and along only 2 miles of our nearly 4,000 mile long border with Canada!” Local Border Sheriffs Larry Dever of Cochise County and Paul Babeu of Pinal County and anonymous Border agents have a different attitude to Obama’s statement.

The border region is more dangerous than ever before? That the border is so dangerous, that there are signs indicating these certain areas are off limits to the American public. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Senator Rand Paul, key leadership of the Tea Party opposes measures of easing immigration restrictions. Over the previous 3 decades, our borders have become less effective, with easy access in some locations to illegal immigrants, increasing the flood while the enforcement of our existing immigration laws have fallen on deaf ears. Rep. Bachmann stated, ” I support legislation that first addresses our most urgent problem: securing America’s borders. We must start by using new technologies such as electronic surveillance where most effective. We need to enforce current laws by holding responsible those who willfully violate our nation’s immigration laws.”

Bachmann also co-sponsored declaring English as the official language of the US. Activists have said remove incentives and rewards to illegal aliens such as licenses, welfare, and other taxpayer services. Senator Rand Paul in my personal letter said, “I also believe that subsidizing something creates more of it, and I do not think the American taxpayers should be forced to pay for welfare, medical care and other expenses for illegal immigrants. I will work to stop those taxpayer funded benefits.” America is a land of charitable and compassionate people, but our generosity and principles are being strained and being abused by those who are willing to break the law, taking our jobs and our tax dollars. Why is it not a felony to enter the United States without permission? Today these individuals are protesting and demanding even more from the taxpayers, in the form of education, health care, services that is provided to citizens and legal residents.

The Tea Party America’s has declared that the illegal alien population will begin to shrink instead of growing, if we support candidates that will reflect the will of the vast majority of American citizens. The revolt within the Republican Party is the TEA PARTY who is resentful of both political parties having agendas to support their individual empowerment. This accounts for thousands of extra votes for Democrats and for the GOP exploitable cheap labor. Neither is the belief of the TEA PARTY that wants stronger enforcement at the North and Southern border, which includes a National Guard presence, with the ability to kill drug smuggling, weapons and illegal immigrants, with force if necessary? Furthermore, the mandated use of the new version of E-Verify, that carries tough penalties for businesses that hire workers, without legal status. In addition, the Permanent operation of “Secure Communities” in local police locations, to fingerprint and check their criminal charges through ICE data bases.

The Tea Party will not tolerate any further Amnesties, after the Great 1986 Amnesty laws were ignored by both parties. Internally in America, 20 million illegal aliens still find work in notorious businesses of every classification. The 2006 Secure (Double) Fence Act was intentionally unfunded just months after being enacted. The Tea Party apposes Sanctuary Cities, Chain Migration and the court mishandled instant citizen for babies intentionally conceived to gain entrance for illegal parents into America. The Dream Act, which in turn will add to the Chain Migration and Immigration Reform, a misleading name for Amnesty. All this lenient rewards, just encourages further exploitation and a unfettered magnet to financial benefits and public services once crossing the border or overstaying expired visas. The American people have woken up and each day are finding that the Tea Party (perhaps third party) are more like their middle class interpretation that they are striving for? The Tea Party stands somewhere between Democrats and Republicans in definition, as moderate Conservatism have received amazing results in such a short time. So Join the TEA PARTY as the revolution has just begun, to fade out the radical people who run this country. Skilled immigrants with high profession job expertise will receive the hospitality of all Americans, including the Tea party members. But we must stop the unfettered incursion of people, who will need welfare assistance and will displace impoverished Americans who still have a manual jobs.

Really last word

May 11th, 2011
7:08 pm

Washington is so concern about the cost of Medicare and Medicaid . . . what about the cost of illegals! Sure they can work for less . . because everything they need is given to them by the government . . . HANDOUTS!!!!!!!! Give me all those handouts and I could work for a lot less!

No. 1 Combo Platter

May 11th, 2011
7:22 pm

“But the hostility toward illegal immigrants isn’t based on any rational fear of cross-border narco-violence or jihadist-inspired terrorism.”

Speaking only for myself, my “hostility” is based on the fact that they’re flouting our laws against illegal immigration, on an enormous scale. It’s similar to the “hostility” I feel for people who cheat on their taxes, drive drunk, and abuse animals. They are breaking the law. If I snuck into Mexico (not that I’d want to) I’d expect the natives to feel “hostility” toward me as well.

And by the way, anyone who believes the southern border is secure is dreaming.

Jake hanachash

May 11th, 2011
9:09 pm

I’m wondering if you would accuse Mexicans of the same “nativist” impulses if I moved to Mexico illegally and worked, went to school and did the same stuff that illegal mexicans do here (or people coming from other countries for that matter). I would imagine you would not accuse the Mexicans of being unfair or nativist if they expected me to come and live in Mexico legally. I could be wrong but it seem you practice a form of rascism. It is the “subtle racism of lowered expectations”. You expect more from whites. You (I suspect) would expect whites to enter legaly or (if they don’t) suffer the rightful consequences if they went to any other nation and stayed illegaly. I could be wrong.
jake

TnGelding

May 12th, 2011
1:16 am

How much more selective can they get?

Let’s welcome these youngsters “home.” As for their parents, that’s a different story.

Cobb Woman of Color

May 12th, 2011
6:09 am

Some of the negative impacts of illegal immigration follow:

Overcrowded and under-funded schools
Communicable diseases
Increased health care costs
Degraded health care service
Higher auto insurance premiums
Poverty 
Lawlessness
Social conflict
Over-population
Unemployment
Lowered wages
Vote fraud
Increased crime
Illegal drugs
Environmental degradation
Depletion of natural resources
Loss of common language and culture
Increased traffic congestion
Higher taxes
Source: Illegal Aliens US

Cobb Woman of Color

May 12th, 2011
6:15 am

@BlackinAmerica,
Wake up! Illegals are not your friend! Educate yourself!

Don’t blindly jump on the bandwagon because you think illegals are just another minority being discriminated against in America.

Not Blind

May 12th, 2011
9:19 am

CWOC, imo, there is no segment of US citizenry that has been worse impacted by illegal aliens than the black people. I truly feel that part of the impetus by people in high places downright encouraging illegal immigration is to replace black Americans in blue collar jobs. The corporate masters want a pliable work force that will work long hours, 7 days a week for low pay and no benefits.

Not Blind

May 12th, 2011
9:21 am

It also AMAZES me when black ‘leaders’ side with the illegal aliens.

Cobb Woman of Color

May 12th, 2011
10:38 am

@Not Blind, It amazes me too when so-called black “leaders” side with illegals. Let me note that the majority of blacks don’t agree with them. Who they are supposedly leading are some of the people most impacted by the influx of illegals.