In all the excitement of last week’s many developments in the federal immigration reform debate, there’s one point that’s at risk of being lost.
The bipartisan Senate plan for immigration reform gives voice to what we might describe as the “contingentist”school of thought. To the contingentists, allowing immigrants to earn a path to citizenship is a good idea if—and only if – we “gain control” of a border that’s supposedly “out of control.”
The fact is, the contingentists simply have their facts wrong. Our border security regime is already amped up to the point of being steroidal. Compared even to the anti-immigrant wish lists of just a few years ago, we have more Border Patrol agents, more border fencing, more ICE detentions, and more money spent .
on border control. All while President Obama has been deporting people at a rate faster than President Bush did. And while immigration from Mexico has dropped to “net zero” over the past five years.
It’s clear: if you want to make immigration reform contingent on supposedly “getting control of our borders,” guess what? It’s already happened.
Of course, there’s absolutely no moral or economic reason to make immigration reform contingent at all. The time to bring people out of the shadows and making sure they’re contributing fully to Long Island and its economy is now. It’s yesterday. To wait until some future conditions are met is to minimize the contributions of immigrants to Long Island at the exact moment we should be maximizing them.
It’s time for politicians to get with the program.