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

Virgil Caine

May 11th, 2011
7:15 am

I guess I’m the only one who remembers Amnesty for most “undocumented” workers was granted via 1986 Immigration Reform Act.

If the only taxes were Sales taxes, I don’t think folks would care where other folks are from.

Joe The Plumber Too

May 11th, 2011
7:21 am

For once I find that I agree with barry the boy blunder. Moats with are a great idea, it would please those of us who want border control and it would please the bedwetting treehuggers also. We could move the gators and crocs from Fla. and La. to the new moats without harming a scale on their pretty little backs. Problem solved. The only ones that would have a problem with it would be the illegals to be and eric holders gunrunners. Let’s do it.

Aquagirl

May 11th, 2011
7:32 am

WAT PART OF EYE-LLEGAL DON’T U UNNERSTAND!?!?!

There, got that out of the way. Let the parade of patriotic ‘Merican’s begin!

Joe The Plumber Too

May 11th, 2011
7:36 am

aquagirl. The poor thing, bless her heart.

granny godzilla

May 11th, 2011
7:39 am

I see that Mr. Reid and Mrs. Pelosi will be re-introducing the DREAM Act. That is a very good thing.

Joe The Plumber Too

May 11th, 2011
7:45 am

barry’s gotta pander to those criminal voters. I understand the boy blunders need for them now more than ever though since he has lost the majority of independent votes.

alan

May 11th, 2011
7:52 am

” They live in fear of deportation” They are illegal ! Mommy and Daddy are illegal!
Let them stay? So what about Mommy and Daddy, can’t send them back. that would be separating family’s. So now we would have at lest 3 staying in the country!
Let all three stay? What about grandparents might as well let them in right?
Let those who come the honest way come and let those who are illegal live in fear like all criminals live in fear of getting found out!

Aquagirl

May 11th, 2011
7:53 am

…And leading the parade, Joe the Plumber Too!

There’s nothing quite like a sense of accomplishment and moral superiority for patriotically falling out of a womb North of the border. Those danged illegals should have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and done a better job with their own conception and birth. Let ‘em starve for their poor choice!

Joe The Plumber Too

May 11th, 2011
7:57 am

no aquabrain, they should get in line like everybody else. They are no more hungry than the person trying to excape any other poor country, they just find it easier to break the law because they can sneak across the border. I thought you bedwetters were all about fairness, how is that fair to the immigrants who have done it or are trying to do it the legal way.

Michelle

May 11th, 2011
7:59 am

The illegals DO NOT have any talent to offer AMERICANS that millions of unemployed young american citizens do not have. MILLIONS OF OUR BRILLIANT YOUNG CITIZENS ALL COLLEGE GRADUATS CAN NOT FIND JOBS. THEY CAN NOT PROPERLY SUPPORT THEMSELVES OR PAY THEIR STUDENT LOANS. The law breaking parents and their off spring should not be rewarded. That sends the wrong messages. It is equal to being a criminal running from the law for generations. American you are going to have a serious problem very soon with up rising from illegals and terrorism. These young people all speak of loyalties to their motherland.

Peadawg

May 11th, 2011
8:02 am

“they should get in line like everybody else. They are no more hungry than the person trying to excape any other poor country, they just find it easier to break the law because they can sneak across the border. I thought you bedwetters were all about fairness, how is that fair to the immigrants who have done it or are trying to do it the legal way.”

Well said.

AZ native

May 11th, 2011
8:03 am

Its amazing how everyone who lives in states without massive immigration problems seem to know about immigration problems. Maybe when Georgia comes under a constant invasion of illegal immigrants, you can write about it like you know what you’re talking about. Until then, you should probably write about something else.

jaider

May 11th, 2011
8:04 am

Michelle…i could not have said it any better myself!!!!!!

Zzz

May 11th, 2011
8:07 am

The Dream Act will never pass the Republican controlled House…and thats a good thing !!!

Peadawg

May 11th, 2011
8:09 am

“I see that Mr. Reid and Mrs. Pelosi will be re-introducing the DREAM Act. That is a very good thing.”

They can re-introduce it and dream about the day when all 11 million illegals are granted amnesty all they want…ain’t going to happen. Obama’s speech in Texas was just another campaign speech to buy Latino votes.

[...] Obama punts on immigration reformNew York Daily NewsKVUE -Washington Examiner -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 2,304 news [...]

J coner

May 11th, 2011
8:11 am

Despite what you may think, I neither hate nor fear illegal immigrants. I just don’t want an open door policy. Broaden your vocabulary please, or at least reduce your hateful retoric.

J coner

May 11th, 2011
8:12 am

From the looks of things. We may do a service to Mexico by letting them have some of their “best and brightest” back.

[...] Obama punts on immigration reformNew York Daily NewsKVUE -Washington Examiner -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 2,304 news [...]

[...] Obama punts on immigration reformNew York Daily NewsKVUE -Washington Examiner -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 2,304 news [...]

J coner

May 11th, 2011
8:16 am

I really don’t think the Dream Act is such a bad thing. These kids that would be affected have been here all their life, had no choice in the matter to come here, are Americans in deed if not policy, and have absolutely no connection to Mexico.

granny godzilla

May 11th, 2011
8:19 am

J Coner

Well said.

Peadawg

May 11th, 2011
8:23 am

“These kids that would be affected have been here all their life, had no choice in the matter to come here”

That’s all sweet and peachy but they need to get in line behind the millions around the world that trying to gain US citizenship the right way.

granny godzilla

May 11th, 2011
8:27 am

“That’s all sweet and peachy but they need to get in line behind the millions around the world that trying to gain US citizenship the right way”

Why?

They are not criminals.

AZ native

May 11th, 2011
8:31 am

How come these are the only kids who don’t have to suffer for their parents mistakes? Maybe I should sue Harvard because I wasn’t born to rich parents and was forced to take out student loans and go to UofA.

quod erat demonstrandum

May 11th, 2011
8:32 am

We all can either live by a set of rules or we can have anarchy – not much of a choice, now is it.

The solution is rather simple. Those here already can have a temporary resident registration card. It would not help with citizenship, we have a process already in place for that.

Without this card or green card or citizenship, work would be impossible. No card or other documentation or you overstay a visa and you would join work gangs fixing our infrastructure.

They could work and pay taxes, but they would not be able to vote.

Call it like it is

May 11th, 2011
8:34 am

To me one of the biggest issues is that the illegal’s that come into our country have no interest in becoming Americans, they are interested in our benefits, our resources, but not interested in becoming Americans. Ride through Smyrna, ride through Gwinnett. If you didn’t know where you were you would think you were in Mexico, Korea, China. They are interested in turning their little piece of the world into their home country, and that scares many native born Americans. I can understand them wanting to get out of the cess pool, but why do that then try to convert where they live back into that same cess pool to which they came from?

And how sad is it that out west Americans can’t wear shirts with the “American” flag on it to school because it might offend Latinos?

There is a system setup to become an American, is it easy, no. but its our system, its what our country has put in place and it has worked for over a century. You have a choice follow our rules or stay home and build yourself a better country, just like our founding fathers did.

Peadawg

May 11th, 2011
8:34 am

“Why?

They are not criminals.”

Then answer me this, granny. How is it fair that the 11 million illegals get to cut to the front of the line? What do you tell the millions of people that have been waiting in line for 2, 4, 6 years whatever to become a US citizen?

Kamchak

May 11th, 2011
8:34 am

WHAT PART OF HIRING ILLEGAL ALIENS IS ILLEGAL DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?

quod erat demonstrandum

May 11th, 2011
8:35 am

granny godzilla,

No, the children are not criminals, but their parents put them into danger by crossing the border illegally.

Better yet, granny, why not just open the borders to everyone from any nation. Better yet, why have borders and such notions as laws?

We can go to extremes with this – where would you draw the line.

Aquagirl

May 11th, 2011
8:38 am

Granny, they need to return because Pea’s brain gets all befuddled by nuance. Duh.

People who can’t think through a complex situation experience brain overload and fall back on arbitrary senseless rules. And as you can tell, they get really, really upset when they’re asked to look at a situation and apply a thought process instead of barking slogans.

The fact their slogan won’t fix the situation is completely unimportant to these folks.

Moving target

May 11th, 2011
8:38 am

The choices are clear, and for those who decry any form of “amnesty” (even though that isn’t entirely accurate) I ask: are you ready to pay to deport these people?

I’d love to see some tough talking xenophobic politician have the guts to come out and propose that we deport all 11 million or so. I would also expect this proposal to include a full projection of costs (investigation, detaining them, transporting, etc) and also tell us from where the money will come. The let us evaluate it as we do any other available option.

DW

May 11th, 2011
8:39 am

Gotta love how republicans left the gate wide open so we could get a bunch of cheap labor and are now bashing them at every opportunity because it makes good politics. This will surely blow up in their faces at some point..

Mike

May 11th, 2011
8:41 am

The right idea? Let everyone in, let them be here legally. Require that they pay taxes. BUT, they are NOT citizens. They may NOT have access to the same benefits as citizens. They may not get in state tuition to our colleges. They may not vote. They cannot collect unemployment or social security. Their children are NOT American citizens. BUT do NOT deport them or threaten them anymore! Thye may remain, legally, and apply for citizenship as if they were still in their home country.

Guy Incognito

May 11th, 2011
8:41 am

“Better yet, granny, why not just open the borders to everyone from any nation. Better yet, why have borders and such notions as laws?”

Ding, ding, ding!

That’s what the whacky left wants………Soros’ dream is no borders, and he, along with his buddies, will tell you how to live and what to think

Zzz

May 11th, 2011
8:42 am

The choices are clear, and for those who decry any form of “amnesty” (even though that isn’t entirely accurate) I ask: are you ready to pay to deport these people?

If we stop hiring them, they will go home the same way they came in !!

hdhd

May 11th, 2011
8:42 am

You are delusional.

tar and feathers party

May 11th, 2011
8:43 am

You mean we have just imagined the millions of illegal mexican children stealing a free education in our public schools? and the millions of illegals stealing free health care in our emergency rooms? I say Deport them all now, never, ever grant amnesty…..I demand revenge on all mexicans for 40 years of theft….

granny godzilla

May 11th, 2011
8:44 am

Then answer me this, granny. How is it fair that the 11 million illegals get to cut to the front of the line? What do you tell the millions of people that have been waiting in line for 2, 4, 6 years whatever to become a US citizen?

We are not putting 11 million in the front of the line. Please read up on the DREAM Act. And you tell the other people the truth. That these children are not criminals

Guy Incognito

May 11th, 2011
8:45 am

Aquagirl

May 11th, 2011
8:38 am

The fact their slogan won’t fix the situation is completely unimportant to these folks.

Oh, you mean like…………”Hope and Change”

Moving target

May 11th, 2011
8:45 am

Exactly, Zzz. Then we should all be screaming for our leaders to enact laws that severely punish employers for hiring illegals. Instead they enact laws to punish the illegals disproportionately more severe than the employer. And that’s wrong and ineffective.

Joe The Plumber Too

May 11th, 2011
8:45 am

aquagirl….bless her heart.

Virgil Caine

May 11th, 2011
8:45 am

The 1986 Reform act:

– required EMPLOYERS to attest to their employees’ immigration status.
– made it ILLEGAL TO KNOWINGLY HIRE or recruit unauthorized immigrants.
– granted AMNESTY to certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants.
– granted AMNESTY to illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously.

It appears we have “been there, done that”, so what do you propose be different this time?

Reebo

May 11th, 2011
8:46 am

I feel better now – Cynthia says our borders are secure! Whew.

Zzz

May 11th, 2011
8:46 am

Exactly, Zzz. Then we should all be screaming for our leaders to enact laws that severely punish employers for hiring illegals. Instead they enact laws to punish the illegals disproportionately more severe than the employer. And that’s wrong and ineffective.

Correct answer !!

granny godzilla

May 11th, 2011
8:47 am

quod erat demonstrandum

“where would you draw the line.”

at the children born and raised here of course

Aaron

May 11th, 2011
8:48 am

Cynthia needs to be shipped back to Africa, or better yet, Mexico. The borders are secure? Are you high or just drunk? I would love for every one of those illegal troublemakes to be shipped back! Cynthia can lead them.

dmac

May 11th, 2011
8:49 am

Ms. Tucker,

Surely you cannot be serious. “The border is secure?” It is difficult for me to believe, that you really believe that. If you do, you are either a. delusional, or b. a complete idiot.

Good Grief

May 11th, 2011
8:49 am

Granny -
These kids are not criminals in the fact that they probably aren’t out robbing stores or killing people, but the fact remains that they are illegal. If you are driving on I-85 and your speed reaches 71 mph, you are technically a criminal, because you are in violation of the law.

Blue

May 11th, 2011
8:49 am

Aquagirl; the “parade of patriotic Mexicans” has already begun. I have experienced it EVERY time I go to the Kennestone Hospital emergency room.