National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


House Hearings Reinforce False Choice Facing Country On Border Security

July 07, 2006

Washington, DCOn Wednesday, and continuing today the House of Representatives began a series of field hearings ostensibly to examine issues related to immigration reform.  The following is a statement by Angela Kelley, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy organization.

Members of the House of Representatives seeking delay of immigration reform are framing the debate as a choice between border security or comprehensive immigration reform.  The point they always seem to miss is that you cannot have border security without comprehensive immigration reform.

Over the last twenty years we have massively increased border enforcement resources; passed punitive measures in 1996 and again in 2005 with the “REAL ID Act”; and terrorized communities with raids, roundups and “special registration.”  All these measures aimed at keeping immigrants out and keeping immigrants down have failed.  Now, in the face of these undeniable failures, House enforcement-only firebrands are boldly saying to the American people “let’s do more of the same.”

The point of comprehensive immigration reform is to combine tough border security and enforcement with measures to take the pressure off of the border by expanding legal avenues for immigration.  The Senate legislation recognizes that it would be better if immigrants came with a visa rather than a smuggler.  This will make it much easier for the Border Patrol and other enforcement entities to prevent and apprehend smugglers, criminals, potential terrorists, and those who could not stand up to official scrutiny.  But to do this, the supply of legal immigration visas must come closer to the demand for visas created by a growing economy, families seeking reunification, and immigrants seeking opportunity.

In order to achieve border security, Congress must enact comprehensive immigration reform that includes border and workplace enforcement, family and worker visas, and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  Those insisting on enforcement-only approaches to immigration and border security are actually standing in the way of the only path to real border security.


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