The Looming Immigration Disaster We Can Avoid

The administration’s new immigration executive orders will result in disaster. Our President and CEO, Janet Murguía, made the case for why in a Washington Post op-ed this week.

While the courts have effectively stalled the failed initial executive order rolled out just days after his inauguration, nobody should be fooled in believing that the pending new order will do anything but put a target on the backs of Latinos all over the country.

U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

In a series of guidance memos last week from the new Department of Homeland Security Secretary, John F. Kelly, the nation’s deportation forces are expected to be increased by 15,000. These forces would be responsible for rounding up, detaining, and deporting undocumented immigrants. Claims that the administration intends to focus on criminals flies in the face of actions we have already seen take place. Further, the memos issued last week make clear that ALL undocumented people are considered priorities for enforcement.

In his memo, Secretary Kelly said, “The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States.” But the reality is that the number of undocumented immigrants is down, and fewer people are arriving than are leaving the United States.

As Murguía points out, however, the cost of deportation would be a great one:

Their [the undocumented] contributions to the economy far outweigh their burden. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants pay $11.6 billion in taxes each year. According to the Social Security Administration, undocumented workers contribute $15 billion annually to the fund, but only withdraw an estimated $1 billion.

Ultimately, the Latino community understands who is the real target of these policies.

For Latinos, this is an existential moment. Our government has declared war on our community. Think I exaggerate? Imagine scores of ICE agents sweeping through your neighborhoods, stalking people leaving church or going to the movies. People will be afraid to visit doctors; children will be afraid to go to school; crimes will go unreported. For Latinos, including those who are citizens, stepping outside without papers could be cause for arrest.

For 20 years, Congress has stalled on immigration reform, preferring instead to keep its favorite bogeyman around to exploit on Election Day. In that time, undocumented people have put down roots, married into our families, borne our children, attended our churches and shared our burdens. Tearing them from our lives will be brutal. It will leave no community untouched. More than five million U.S. citizens have undocumented parents. Deporting these parents will leave their children parentless, traumatized and often destitute. We would rather see these Americans achieve their potential.

The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill on June 27, 2013.

Just a few short years ago, Congress came as close as it has in a while to passing bipartisan immigration reform. We implore congressional leaders to once again be brave and work toward better solutions for fixing our immigration system. The world is watching.

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