This is continuation of serious of articles providing AILA’s (American Immigration Lawyers Association) on various tops as contained in Senate Bill S. 744 passed by the Senate, action or inaction in the House and AILA’s position of these issues.
The U.S. border is safer and more secure than it has ever been, and in recent years the federal government has spent an unprecedented level of resources on border security. Nonetheless, calls for even more border security continue despite a dearth of evidence showing that a huge additional commitment of resources would be cost effective or significantly improve national security.
• Any border security plan should be based on performance metrics and measurable standards of border safety that are achievable and fiscally responsible.
• Border resources should be better balanced by committing resources to improve performance at ports of entry and reducing personnel between ports of entry.
- Well-substantiated reports have shown a pattern of Border Patrol misconduct against immigrants and U.S. citizens in several states. Training should be increased for all CBP staff to address the use of force, misconduct, and racial profiling.
Border Triggers to Legalization
Any border security measures set as a condition for legalization to begin should be defined and attainable. Unreachable, undefined triggers may discourage eligible participants from coming forward and could keep millions who do participate in legalization in long-term limbo status for reasons wholly outside of their control.
Why is mandating fencing on the entire southern border not viable?
Expensive double-layer fence is not cost-effective or necessary. In fact, border crossings are down 80 percent since 2000. Pouring billions of dollars into fencing runs directly counter to data on recent and current migration trends and severely detracts from efforts to combat crime organizations and trafficking of contraband and persons.
Why is “Operational Control” not a viable trigger?
Although border security is critically important to our nation, experts agree that a sealed border is not realistic or cost-effective. Achieving a certain level of operational control- such as 90% measured by the apprehension rate of illegal border crossers -will require substantial planning and testing, some of which is already underway. But such high levels of operational control may not be attainable in a reasonable timeframe, and mandating them as a trigger may postpone legalization indefinitely. CBP Chief Fisher has testified that it “wouldn’t make sense” to mandate a fixed level of operational control in all border regions without considering the costs and benefits.
H.R.1417- Border Security Results Act
H.R. 1417, which passed out of the House Homeland Security Committee, has two significant flaws. First, it does not address how border security will fit in with reforms to the legal immigration system or a legalization plan for the undocumented. Without these key components of reform, a massive commitment of resources on the border is a waste of taxpayer money and will fail to address the concerns along the border. Second, H.R. 1417’s border requirements will almost certainly become “triggers” and could prevent legalization from being implemented.
Interior Enforcement and Detention
Our nation spends unprecedented resources to immigration enforcement, now totaling $18 billion annually. Despite this substantial outlay, our enforcement practices are not smart or effective or targeted at the right enforcement priorities. Enforcement should be conducted in a way that does not harm children or families. Penalties for violations of our immigration laws should be proportionate to the offenses committed.
• Congress should clarify