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Immigration Reform and Border Policy

Updated: Mar 25

Big Picture


Since 1980, our foreign-born population has gone from 14 million people to an estimated 45 million. At first glance, this increase is no issue for the U.S. as we always need more people to work and innovate. However, there has been a push in America to let people in first and to ask questions later.


Among the people that come to the US currently, many are given entry and never attend their scheduled court hearings. As a result, there are an estimated 11-12 million undocumented immigrants. By and large, this population doesn't pose any threat to America and may actually be an economic boon in some respects, but there are some very bad actors within it that roam free.


The discourse surrounding immigration has now become a morality debate. If you desire a stronger border or stronger immigration limits, you are deemed a racist. But this is a false dichotomy. One can advocate for a far more humane and amiable treatment of undocumented immigrants while acknowledging the necessities of border security in the fights against drug smuggling, human trafficking and terrorism. Also, Texas and Florida's policies of sending migrants to Democratic states and cities has overwhelmed the shelter capacity and has forced previously sanctuary city and state advocates to call for immigration halts.


Our nation hopes to be both humanitarian and safe in dealing with immigration, but we also need to protect our people. We recognize that immigrants tend to be law-abiding, even entrepreneurial, but we also recognize that if an international actor was to harm the U.S., they would probably do so masquerading as a refugee to take advantage of our collective good will. There are valid concerns on both sides of the political spectrum. 


This policy proposal seeks to balance the humanitarian and safety roles our national policy should take in dealing with immigration.


Operative Definitions


  1. Immigration Processing Center: Service Processing Centers or Immigrant Detention Centers used to house migrants during initial safety checks.

  2. OAS: Organization of American States is a union for all the countries in the Americas to develop common policies.

  3. Undocumented: “Undocumented immigrants, also called illegal aliens, are foreign-born people who do not possess a valid visa or other immigration documentation, because they entered the U.S. without inspection, stayed longer than their temporary visa permitted, or otherwise violated the terms under which they were admitted.” - WA DSHS

  4. Unaccompanied Minor: “A child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States, is younger than 18 years old, and either 1) Does not have a parent or legal guardian in the United States or, 2) Does not have a parent or legal guardian in the United States who is able to provide care and physical custody.” - US DHS

  5. Accompanied Minor: “A child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States, is younger than 18 years old, and is traveling with a lawfully admissible adult.” - US DHS


Key Facts and Statistics


  1. Amount of non-detained migrants that skip their court hearings: 17% - American Immigration Council

  2. Amount of migrants coming through the border: at least 7.7 million since October 2019 - USA Facts

  3. Amount of migrants from outside the Americas in the US: 2.432 million in 2019 - Migration Policy Institute

  4. Americans who view the crisis as an invasion: 53% - NPR

  5. Number of suspected terrorists that attempt entry through the border: more than 3,000 in 2019 - Council on Foreign Relations

  6. Number of single adult migrants: 2 million in 2022 - USA Facts

  7. Number of family migrants: 614,000 in 2022 - USA Facts

  8. Number of minor migrants: at least 450,000 since October 2019 - USA Facts


Seven-Point Plan


(1) Create larger and more humane immigration processing centers with more security checks. 

There needs to be showering facilities with privacy and other hygiene services, such as access to clean clothes. There should be better privacy for bathrooms, less people to one enclosed space, more enclosed spaces with specialized areas for families, OAS status, age, sex and so on. Better climate-controlled centers, with more access to exercise, education and spaces outside should be included. Until fully vetted, the migrant or family should not be allowed into the American population. 


(2) Extend the border wall in places with low security, and increase security in other areas to provide for more protection of the border.


(3) Create an OAS identification program to decrease the likelihood of being undocumented.

A system through the CIA that nationals from other countries can freely sign up for would be best, but this would probably run into diplomatic hiccups, so using the OAS would be better. Currently, most immigrants come from the Americas. In order to streamline the immigration process, the OAS would create a database that can use fingerprinting and other technology like facial recognition to create a passport-like database that can be accessed without physical papers that may be lost along the migration journey. This will help to alleviate the possibility of children being without their parents and a notorious criminal getting through the process. There will be separate processing centers for OAS-documented migrants so that the OAS migrants who have made it through this first step can be closer to getting into the U.S. proper.


(4) Separate children at the border from people traveling with them (temporarily) to make sure there is no child trafficking.

With better facilities to go through a process of checking DNA and other indicators to see familial status, as well as using the OAS identification program, we can minimize child trafficking across the border. This should be done for all adults, too.


(5) Work with NGOs and charitable organizations such as the Jesuit Refugee Services to provide for accompanying, processing, sheltering and other services, such as legal advisement, to make the migrant journey more humane.

The U.S. should work to provide tax reductions and other benefits to companies, individuals and other organizations that provide services at the processing centers such as farmers and grocery stores providing free food, law offices providing pro-bono work and schools providing free education. Some of this is already being done.


(6) Bring immigration court services directly to the border to streamline court hearings.

Create a separate federal court to deal with immigration at the border. Right now, many immigrants are asked to come back after a long duration to areas they have left. Instead, we should make the courts closer with no ability to leave the processing centers prior to the hearing.


(7) Redirect some of our defense and foreign policy funding to focus on the border so that taxes do not have to be increased, but rather the budget simply re-allocated. Soldiers should go to the border to help DHS.


Why Is This Initiative Important?


Most Americans view the immigration and border crisis as a problem. We need a solution. This initiative hopes to create a more humane and safe process for both the country and migrants.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources




"What’s the difference between legal and undocumented immigrants?" Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, https://www.dshs.wa.gov/faq/what%E2%80%99s-difference-between-legal-and-undocumented-immigrants. Accessed 12 Oct. 2023.


"Reporting Terminology and Definitions" US Department of Homeland Security, https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/reporting-terminology-definitions. Accessed 12 Oct. 2023.


Frausto, Maria. "11 Years of Government Data Reveal That Immigrants Do Show Up for Court." American Immigration Council, 28 Jan. 2023, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/news/11-years-government-data-reveal-immigrants-do-show-court. Accessed 12 Oct. 2023.


"What can the data tell us about unauthorized immigration?" USA Facts, 21 Aug. 2023, https://usafacts.org/articles/what-can-the-data-tell-us-about-unauthorized-immigration/. Accessed 12 Oct. 2023.


"Profile of the Unauthorized Population: United States." Migration Policy Institute, 2019, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/data/unauthorized-immigrant-population/state/US. Accessed 12 Oct. 2023.


Rose, Joel. "A majority of Americans see an 'invasion' at the southern border, NPR poll finds." NPR, 18 Aug. 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/08/18/1117953720/a-majority-of-americans-see-an-invasion-at-the-southern-border-npr-poll-finds. Accessed 12 Oct. 2023.


Diana Roy, Amelia Cheatham, and Claire Klobucista. "How the U.S. Patrols Its Borders." Council on Foreign Relations, 26 July 2023, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/how-us-patrols-its-borders. Accessed 12 Oct. 2023.


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