Blog & Updates
Setting the stage for Immigration Reform
May 07, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas
Leaders from non-profit organizations talked to Administration officials Wednesday to get briefed on the President’s upcoming budget proposal to be publicly released Thursday. The President’s FY2010 budget includes a set of immigration-related provisions that shows the President and the Administration are more concerned with actual security than in making headlines and scaring immigrants. The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday,
President Obama will ask Congress for $27 billion for border and transportation security in the next budget year, fulfilling a promise to the Mexican government to battle the southbound flow of illegal weapons and setting the stage for immigration reform by first addressing enforcement, administration officials said Tuesday.
…The budget includes an 18% increase for the Department of Justice's Southwest Border Initiative, which targets the violence fueled by the drug cartels.
…In devoting more money to security and enforcement, Obama may be creating some political space needed to revamp the immigration system.
The President understands that it’s important to make enforcement a priority to build confidence among the American people so when we fix the immigration system, they can be sure that we will do it right this time around and we won’t need to reform our system again in the next few years.
Moreover, the budget shows a shift in policy, making enforcement more effective and adding adequate accountability and oversight— a notable departure from the scattershot approach to enforcement of the previous administration.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that the budget "clearly demonstrates the president's commitment to a smart and effective immigration policy."
"We are continuing to focus on tightening our borders and stronger enforcement, and this budget gives us essential new resources and tools to do just that," she said.
…The border and immigration budget underscores differences with the Bush administration, which emphasized border fence construction, increased detention space and more teams to raid work sites. Obama has already changed the game on work-site enforcement, giving immigration agents new guidelines that shift the emphasis from illegal workers to employers who break the law by hiring them.
….The emphasis on border security isn't a surprising first step by the administration, said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank.
"It's a no-brainer that he is going to want to spend a lot of resources and build muscle at the border," she said.
But she said that Obama shouldn't stop there.
— Obama budget puts security first at the border, May 6, 2009
These proposals, along with the new $10 million program to promote immigrant integration and investments to improve the immigration court system, are forceful administrative steps that lay the groundwork for immigration reform but they will not provide a long lasting solution until comprehensive immigration reform legislation is approved in Congress.