This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Is Immigration Reform Really Not Going Anywhere After All?

On the night of President Obama's State of the Union address, I was impressed by the seeming hope that was held out that an immigration reform bill might pass, given the potential for some kind of compromise that would legalize undocumented immigrants without necessarily putting them on a path to citizenship. What I didn't pay attention to, however, was that the poison pill I mentioned nearly a year ago--border security--is still a precondition for House Republicans. This was pointed out in a letter to the editor of the NY Times by Wayne Cornelius of UCSD, arguably one of the world's foremost authorities on migration from Mexico to the US.
The strict “enforcement triggers” that House Republicans insist on including in a legalization program are actually poison pills. The Republicans’ proposal adopts the requirement included in the Senate bill approved last year that not one undocumented immigrant will be legalized until specific border enforcement benchmarks are met, and they would toughen those standards.
The triggers included in the Senate bill are unrealistic enough. For example, it is impossible to certify that the Border Patrol is stopping 90 percent of illegal entries all along the border using the methodology prescribed by the Senate bill. The government does not even collect the necessary types of data.
A decade of research by my team and others has found that nine out of 10 undocumented migrants apprehended on the first try succeed in gaining entry on the second or third try. Short of full militarization of the Southwest border, it will remain porous enough to prevent meeting the Republicans’ triggers.
It should be understood that members of Congress who vote for a bill making legalization contingent on meeting these triggers are simply advocating a program that may never be implemented — which is exactly what many House Republicans want.
So, here we go ahead again in Congress with big talk and the probability of doing something remaining close to zero.

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