Fixing the border to solve immigration problems without addressing other issues is a little like solving just one side of a puzzle, an immigration policy expert said yesterday.
“You fix one side of a Rubik’s Cube, but the rest is a mess,” Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center, said.
Giovagnoli spoke at the ninth annual Cambio de Colores conference in Columbia. The three-day event focuses on Hispanics and immigrants in Midwestern communities and is co-sponsored by the University of Missouri System, MU, MU Extension and the Cambio Center.
The United States has spent billions to try to stop illegal immigration over two decades, yet the population of unauthorized foreign residents has grown dramatically.
Those who back other ways to deal with the problem raised this point on Wednesday while President Obama and Congress prepare to send additional personnel to the borders and spend millions more for detention, technology and enforcement.
“All of this attention on resources for the border ignores the fact that border enforcement alone is not going to resolve the underlying problems with our broken immigration system,” says the Immigration Policy Center, an advocacy group that favors comprehensive reform.
The violence has increased since 2007 – on the Mexican side of the border. What gets lost in this debate is that violence on the American side of the border has actually decreased.
A report by the Immigration Policy Center compiled using statistics from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics found that violent and property crime in Arizona has been on a steady decline since 2002. It decreased by 8% in six years. Violent crime impacted 447 people out of 100,000 in 2008 compared to 555 in 2002.
Many other lawyers say that's a false reading. "Of course they're under our jurisdiction," says Michele Waslin, senior policy analyst with the American Immigration Council, which works to protect the legal rights of immigrants. "If they commit a crime, they're subject to the jurisdiction of the courts."
That seems to be the mindset of Oswaldo Cabrera, 42, an Ecuadoran immigrant who has been on a hunger strike since earlier this month.
"I am willing to sacrifice my life for the sake of the 5 million American children of undocumented parents who live in fear of them not coming back home at the end of the day," said Cabrera in a tired voice at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fairview, N.J.
Actually, there are 5.5 million children in the country with at least one parent who is undocumented, and 75% of them are U.S. citizens, says the Immigration Policy Center.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse on the immigration front, it got worse.
The American Immigration Council, Immigration Policy Center (IPC) has issued a press release that shines a bright spotlight on what the Obama administration is doing to non-violent immigration violators in the United States.
He cites a report out early this year by the left-leaning Center for American Progress and the American Immigration Council. It concluded that if illegal immigrants were granted legal status, their wages would go up, as would their earning power, meaning increased tax revenues of $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion in the first three years.
In a statement, Immigration Policy Center spokesperson Wendy Sefsaf explained the flaws in FAIR's findings. "FAIR's latest data fails to account for the property, sales, and income taxes paid by unauthorized immigrants," she said. "Nor does the data account for the consumer purchasing power of unauthorized immigrants – what they spend on goods, services, and housing – which actually creates jobs and generates additional tax revenue."
"They seem to forget that deporting workers also means deporting consumers and taxpayers," she explained.
But the Immigration Policy Center, a major opponent of the new law, says FAIR's data do not accurately portray SB1070's potential outcome. “They count the costs and don’t look at the benefits. We tend to look at the benefits more closely,” said Council spokeswoman Wendy Sefsaf.
“It is like having a roommate and counting how much they cost in toilet paper and incidentals without looking at the benefits of having help with the rent,” she said.
“Overall, every comprehensive study has shown that immigrants are a net benefit to states. If you add their children, they are a very great benefit.”
The Center’s cost crunching found that "if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product and approximately 140,324 jobs,” -- a disaster for the Grand Canyon State.
The foreign-born share of Michigan’s population rose from 3.8 percent in 1990 to 5.3 percent in 2000, to 6.1 percent in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2007, Michigan was home to more than 600,000 immigrants. And roughly 47 percent of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote, notes the Immigration Policy Center in its September 2009 report, “New Immigrants in the Great Lakes State.”
Latinos, Asians and Arab Americans account for a large and growing share of the economy and electorate of Michigan. Census data reveal that 6.4 percent of Michiganders are Latino or Asian. The Latino share of Michigan’s population grew 4 percent in 2007. The Asian share grew 2.4 percent the same year.
Michigan also has the highest proportion of Arab Americans in the nation and is home to some of the world’s largest populations of Albanian, Macedonian, Lebanese, Iraqi and Yemeni immigrants.