Immigration reform is needed


Tensions flaring in pursuit of immigration reform.

Robeal Tesfamichael, Staff Writer

Drastic immigration reform is necessary as “mandatory detention” laws authorize the detainment of immigrants by law enforcement. Without the right to a hearing or to have their cases reviewed by judges, this discourages immigrants to follow the system, which leads towards engagement in illegal practices in order to gain monetary opportunity.

According to Open Society Foundations, the United States immigration detention center population more than quintupled between the years of 1996 to 2012 due primarily to an assortment of laws in 1996 that expanded the use of “mandatory detention” towards immigrants.

This requires law enforcement to detain immigrants without a hearing regardless of whether or not they may be sick, elderly, pregnant, green card holders, illegal or legal immigrants. In addition to those laws, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were stripped of their ability to release immigrants from detention as well as to allow judges to review individual cases, resulting in unnecessary imprisonment for thousands of immigrants. A reduction in mandatory detention and the restoration of a judge’s power to review individual cases are vital and must be involved within any comprehensive immigration reform.

The pursuit of legal immigration for most applicants has become virtually impossible. The Immigration Policy Center states that most undocumented immigrants lack enough family relationships in order to apply for legal entry into the United States. Even those immigrants who do may have to wait years or even decades of waiting to acquire a visa. Immigrants wait up to decades for legal entry into the country, only to be treated like criminals without due process. This virtually guarantees immigrants will refuse to work within the system; spawning markets for smugglers as well as havoc along the border of the United States and Mexico.

Immigration reform should allow more immigrants legal entry into the United States with a visa as opposed to desperate immigrants resorting to smuggling. Require undocumented immigrants to register and undergo security and background checks in order to help separate themselves from immigrants who are seeking to exploit the immigration policy or inflict harm.

According to the Pew Research Center and the, as of March 2012, there were 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the country and millions more that are unknown to the government. Approximately $2 billion is spent annually by the ICE to detain ordinary immigrant workers and families; wasting taxpayer money and resources away from protecting against more genuine threats. Drug and gun smugglers, American employers who intentionally disobey labor laws by exploiting illegal immigrants, and even violent citizens could pose more of a threat to public safety.