National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Media

Fences Won’t Fix The Problem: Piecemeal Reform Will Yield Piecemeal Results

September 14, 2006

Washington, DCThe following is a statement by Angela Kelley, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-profit, non-partisan pro-immigration advocacy group.


Today, the House is expected to debate and pass a bill to construct 700 miles of border fence.  The bill was technically introduced yesterday, but it is a bill that has already passed this Congress as part of the controversial House immigration bill (H.R. 4437), which also would make felons out of all undocumented immigrants and anyone who assists them. 


Similar measures to today’s House bill, including fencing, are contained in the immigration and border security bill passed by the Senate (S.2611).  So, if the House Republican Leaders wanted to actually build border fencing, they would be negotiating with the Senate and sending a bill to the President.


But this is not about fences, border security, or immigration reform; it is about job security for vulnerable Republicans.  They would rather appear to do something about immigration reform and border security than actually do something about border security and immigration reform.  It is a shame when elected leaders have so little respect for the electorate.


Fencing, in and of itself, will not do much to improve border security or deter illegal entry. Only a comprehensive approach that addresses all of the complex aspects of border security and immigration reform will actually achieve the goal of a secure border and an immigration system based on the rule of law.


Today’s actions, and those expected all this month in the House, will delay the House-Senate negotiations to fashion and pass a workable immigration and border security package. The stalling and inaction of House Republicans may end up being quite costly to them and to our nation.


Seven hundred miles of fencing…


…will not change the fact that our labor market is increasingly integrated with Latin America and the rest of the world;


…will not address the mismatch between the jobs being created in our expanding economy and just 5,000 work visas for low-skilled workers per year;


…will not erase the reality that an estimated 11-12 million undocumented immigrants already live, work, and raise families here;


…is a symbolic gesture that will cost American taxpayers billions with nothing much to show for it. 


 

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