New Hampshire quietly fell under the realm of Secure Communities last week, the federal program looking for potential immigration violations that checks the fingerprints of anyone who has been arrested.
According to the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Secure Communities was activated throughout New Hampshire on May 8. On Tuesday, the program went into effect in Massachusetts and New York, where some political leaders have said it is not needed and unwanted.
Attrition through enforcement is the underlying strategy of Arizona's immigration law SB 1070. Supporters say it forces undocumented immigrants to make the "rational" decision to self-deport. In theory, they will do this when faced with an increased risk of being caught and officially deported, and a decreased chance of finding work.
This logic, however, doesn't hold. Why? Because undocumented immigrants have a lot to lose, and just walking away goes against human nature.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, more than one-third of undocumented immigrants own a home. This number rises to 45 percent among those who have been here more than 10 years. An estimated 37 percent of undocumented immigrants have U.S.-citizen children.
Consensus doesn’t seem to have a place in policy discussions about the state of the U.S. immigration system. But there is, at least, widespread agreement that the system needs fixing.
“Everyone will tell you the laws aren’t working,” says Brittney Nystrom, director of policy and legal affairs at the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C. But beyond that starting premise, views on immigration laws start to splinter.
“On both sides of this debate, there are deeply held beliefs about what immigration means to America,” says Nystrom. “On one side, you have the idea that we’re a nation of immigrants, and it’s healthy and important to keep that tradition alive. On the other side, you have the argument that immigrants are a burden. Trying to factually discuss immigration becomes almost impossible when people tend to fall into one camp or the other based on what they’re told.”