Anti-immigrant activists and politicians are fond of relying upon anecdotes to support their oft-repeated claim that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are dangerous criminals. This mythical claim is usually based on rhetorical sleight of hand in which individual stories of heinous crimes committed by immigrants are presented as “proof” that we must restrict immigration or “get tough” on the undocumented in order to save the lives of U.S. citizens. While these kinds of arguments are emotionally powerful, they are intellectually dishonest. There is no doubt that dangerous criminals must be punished, and that immigrants who are dangerous criminals should not be allowed to enter the United States or should be deported if they already are here. But harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime because—as numerous studies over the past 100 years have shown—immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are not associated with higher rates of crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the undocumented, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.
Critics of H.R. 5882, a bill that would would allow visas that have gone unused due to bureaucratic delays to be "recaptured" and issued to family- or employment-based legal immigrants, claim it will needlesly create new visas. The fact is that "recapturing" lost visas would not authorize any new green cards; it would allow the government to issue green cards that Congress has already authorized.
Over the past year and a half, County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has transformed his police department into an immigration-enforcement agency, gaining international notoriety in the process. The East Valley Tribune of metro-Phoenix, Arizona, recently ran a series of articles chronicling its investigation of the immigration-enforcement activities of MCSO. Using MCSO case files, interviews with top-ranking officers, and other sources of data, reporters uncovered startling facts about the enormous price tag—both financial and social—of the Sheriff’s antics.
Most researchers agree that undocumented immigration to the United States is driven largely by economics. Yet, in a new report entitled "Homeward Bound: Recent Immigration Enforcement and the Decline in the Illegal Alien Population," CIS
Many who support deportation-only immigration measures are advocating for a universal electronic employment verification system (EEVS). Bills such as the “Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act” (H.R. 4088) and the “New Employee Verification Act of 2008” (H.R. 5515) would place enormous additional responsibilities on the Social Security Administration (SSA)—a critical but overburdened agency. In fact, H.R. 5515, authored by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), would saddle the SSA with the job of administering the new mandatory and massive employment verification system.
While the U.S. government has poured billions upon billions of dollars into immigration enforcement, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has increased dramatically. Rather than reducing undocumented immigration, this enforcement-without-reform strategy has diverted the resources and attention of federal authorities to the pursuit of undocumented immigrants who are drawn here by the labor needs of our own economy.
Since the mid-1980s, the federal government has tried repeatedly, without success, to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants to the United States with immigration-enforcement initiatives: deploying more agents, fences, flood lights, aircraft, cameras, and sensors along the southwest border with Mexico; increasing the number of worksite raids and arrests conducted throughout the country; expanding detention facilities to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants apprehended each year; and creating new bureaucratic procedures to expedite the return of detained immigrants to their home countries. At the same time, the economic integration of North America, the western hemisphere, and the world has accelerated, facilitating the rapid movement of goods, services, capital, information, and people across international borders. Moreover, the U.S. economy demands more workers at both the high-skilled and less-skilled ends of the occupational spectrum than the rapidly aging, native-born population provides. The U.S. government’s enforcement-without-reform approach to undocumented immigration has created an unsustainable contradiction between U.S. immigration policy and the U.S. economy. So far, the economy is winning.