Illegal Immigration is a Crime
Each year the Border Patrol is making more than a million apprehensions of persons who flagrantly violate our nation's laws by unlawfully crossing U.S. borders to work and to receive public assistance, usually with the aid of fraudulent documents. Such entry is a misdemeanor, and if repeated becomes punishable as a felony. Over four million illegal immigrants live in the United States--some estimate over five million--and, this does not include the nearly three million aliens amnestied under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. 1
BORDER PATROL: NECESSARY BUT NOT SUFFICIENT
The problems along the southern border are severe, yet manageable. However, simply stacking Border Patrol agents at the border is only a partial solution. Illegal immigration cannot be controlled solely at the border. About half of the illegal alien population is comprised of visa overstayers--people who entered the country legally, but became illegal aliens by their failure to leave the U.S. upon expiration of their visa. Once entry occurs, there is little chance of detection and virtually no chance of deportation, except for convicted criminals. 2
WHAT CAN WE DO?
"TEN STEPS TO ENDING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION"
We need a comprehensive program, as set out in FAIR's publication Ten Steps to Controlling Illegal Immigration. Curtailing unlawful migration means ensuring that persons who enter illegally or overstay their lawful status will not be able to obtain employment, public assistance benefits, public education, public housing, or any other social benefit without detection. The three major components of immigration control--deterrence, apprehension and removal-- need to be strengthened by Congress and the Executive Branch if effective control is ever to be reestablished. Controlling illegal immigration requires a balanced approach with a full range of enforcement improvements that go far beyond the border. These include many procedural reforms, beefed up investigation capacity, asylum reform, documents improvements, major improvements in INS detention and deportation procedures, limitations on judicial review, improved intelligence capacity, much better state/federal cooperation and added resources.
WHAT ABOUT THE COSTS?
As the saying goes, "There is no free lunch." Effective control and management of the laws against illegal immigration require adequate resources. But, the costs will be more than offset by savings to states, counties, communities, and school districts across the nation.
- INS Statistical Yearbook, 1994.
- INS Testimony, 1995.