National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


The Minuteman Project: The Wrong Prescription for What Ails Us

April 01, 2005

Washington, D.C.Starting this weekend in Tombstone, Arizona, volunteers calling themselves the Minuteman Project are gathering for a month-long demonstration at the U.S. border with Mexico.  The following is a statement by Angela Kelley, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy organization in Washington.

Most of these militia members are as frustrated as we are with our broken immigration system.  They are simply pursuing the wrong set of remedies to the problems created by our failed immigration policies.  We all agree on one thing, the immigration system is in desperate need of reform. 

Many involved with the Minuteman Project and the broader anti-immigration movement feel we cannot consider reforming immigration until we get control of our borders, but that is precisely backwards.  We cannot get control of our borders until we reform our immigration laws so that they match more closely with reality, meet the needs of employers, immigrants, and the American people, can be efficiently and effectively enforced so that we free up scarce security resources to focus on the threats of terrorism, smuggling, and violent crime

That approach to immigration reform is much more realistic, much more likely to succeed, and much more consistent with our values and traditions as a nation of immigrants.  Generally, Americans don’t hate immigrants, but they are very uncomfortable with illegality and a government that doesn’t seem to be doing its job.  The militia approach is one of guns and aggression.  The better approach is to recognize and regulate reality.

The President, Senator McCain, and a growing number of leaders in both parties have put a new approach on the table.  The “Big Idea” they support is to create legal channels for immigrants seeking opportunity, allow immigrants here to come out of the shadows and participate legally in society, deploy humane, intelligent border security measures, and cut off the black market for fake documents, exploitative employers, violent criminals smugglers, and the like.  Only this style of reform will allow us to transform a deadly, chaotic, and illegal immigration system into a safe, legal and orderly one.

Making it hard to come here legally and then stirring up outrage about the resulting illegality is a political strategy.  Allowing enough immigration to happen legally so that our border agents, intelligence services, and law enforcement can focus on legitimate security threats is a security strategy.

A nation founded, built, and defended by immigrants seeking freedom, jobs, and a better way of life can surely come up with something better than armed vigilantes as a means of regulating immigration.

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