Free Essay About The US Immigration System
The 9/11 human-inflicted catastrophe that befell the United States in the early part of the 21st century illustrated the weaknesses of the country’s immigration system. Most of the terrorist-participants had validly entered the US on non-immigrant visas, and some of them violated the terms of the visa. Yet, those violations had gone undetected (Johnson and Trujillo 235). Had they been otherwise, the attacks could have been foiled or at least, detected. Drastic reforms in immigration were subsequently instituted, including subsuming the Immigration and Naturalization Service into the newly created Department of Homeland (LII 2015). The reforms undertaken in immigration were so tough that that immigration has earned the moniker ‘crimmigration’ law because the boundaries between immigration and criminalization have, in effect, been breached and blurred (Stumpf 376). Yet, the percentage of illegal immigrants in the US vis-à-vis the country’s population is now even higher compared to 2003 when the reforms were instituted. Although this does not necessarily justify the view that the country’s immigration laws are broken, it does imply that something is not right with it.
Although it may be extreme to say that the country’s immigration laws are broken, it is only fair to conclude that something about it is not right. Historical statistics on illegal immigration can be used to justify such observation. In 2001, for example, only 2.7% of the US population constituted illegal immigrants, in 2003 when the reforms were instituted the number rose to 3.3%. In 2011, the figure even increased to 3.7% (ProCon 2014) implying that the new reforms not only failed to stop illegal immigration, it also blundered in suppressing its rise.
The primary attraction of the US to migrants is well-known: it is considered the land of milk and honey where opportunities to seek greener pastures abound. Most persons seeking to enter the US, thus, do so thinking that he or she can find economic well-being that is absent in his or her country of origin. The area of importance in this discourse, thus, falls on employment laws since illegal immigrants will naturally seek local employment to realize that dream. Since 2005, the Government Accountability Office or GAO had already outlined to Congress that the way to minimize or completely solve illegal immigration is to impose tougher employment laws with respect to the hiring system of employers, specifically the verification of the legal status of their employees (GAO 8). As illustrated by the statistics previously cited, it seemed that such recommendation either failed to make an impact on the legislature or the resulting subsequent policies did not make much impact. There should be a thorough review and examination of this area to close the loophole that seemed to be plaguing the system. This is, of course, a tough call considering that although immigration law is an exclusive federal matter, employment law is not.
Some have called the country’s immigration laws as broken. Although such observation may be too exaggerated, it is fair to say that they are not as effective as they should be. This is clearly manifested by the historical statistics on illegal immigration from pre-9/11 to 2011. Not only had illegal immigration not ceased, it actually increased despite the tougher reforms instituted in 2003. The problem lies in the overlap of illegal immigration solutions in the areas of immigration and employment laws. Although the federal government can rein in immigration policies as it has exclusive hold on the area, it cannot do so in the area of employment, which it shares with the states.
GAO. “Immigration Enforcement: Weaknesses Hinder Employment Verification and
Worksite Enforcement Efforts.” General Accountability Office. Web. 2005. Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05813.pdf.
Johnson, Kevin and Trujillo, Bernard. Immigration Law and the U.S.ÐMexico Border: ÀS’ Se Puede? University of Arizona Press. 2011. Print.
ProCon. Illegal Immigration, Population Estimates in the United States, 1969-2011. 2014. Web. Retrieved from http://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000844#III.
Stumpf, Juliet. “The Crimmigration Crisis: Immigrants, Crime, and Sovereign Power.” American University Law Review vol. 56, no. 2 (December 2006): 367-419.
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