With immigration reform on horizon, stop the raids
May 26, 2007
As a humanitarian act, the Bush administration should order a moratorium on immigration raids.
With proposed immigration reform making its way through Congress, including legal status for an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, it’s a contradiction to continue arresting and deporting the very people who stand to benefit.
They have been terrorized by the government’s stepped-up efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants, after years of largely tolerating their presence.
Children have been torn apart from parents or left to wonder if their parents will simply vanish between the time they leave for school in the morning and return in the afternoon. That happened in Iowa after the raid last December at Swift in Marshalltown.
On its Web site, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it set a record for “alien removals” – nearly 195,000 people in fiscal year 2006. That’s more than a 13 percent increase over the prior year. The percentage is likely to jump given all the immigration raids since the Oct. 1 start of the federal government’s fiscal year 2007.
The raids are a questionable use of taxpayer dollars anyway. Why not target those dollars to pursuing illegal immigrants who pose a real threat, such as drug smugglers?
Going after immigrants who broke the law only to escape poverty by working low-wage jobs is absurd at the very time elected leaders are debating whether to allow them to legally remain in the country. Under the bill, they would be placed on a probationary status and provided a path to citizenship.
Congress is debating such steps because allowing them to stay, in most cases, is the only realistic course. It would be inhumane and nearly physically impossible to deport an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants – many with young children who are U.S. citizens. It’s also a bad idea, given their importance to our economy.
That’s why it’s critical for Congress to pass reform that brings current illegal immigrants out of the shadows and prevents future illegal immigration by generously matching the number of people who want to immigrate with U.S. economic needs.