Our President, the son of an African Immigrant, wants to distance himself from the ongoing drama. The Clinton Administration with its reactionaries within the Republican Congress left a wake in both Bush and Obama’s path with IIRAIRA. Few Republicans realize the political responsibility for poor immigration enforcement that even President Ronald Reagan understood. IRCA Legalization cut through unrighteous red tape and tried to aid enforcement efforts. The Registry program did the same.
This is no longer an issue of I-9 audits, surveys and detentions. Some have remained in the U. S. without relief since the flawed Legalization program passed under IRCA in 1986. We still have J-1 visa holders who never waived their two year residency requirement per INA 212(e) for over 25 years. They, among others, wait for a kinder and gentler immigration program.
Our nation has never had an actual amnesty; detractors ‘bait’ any benefits proposal like INA 245i with the word “amnesty.” Sometimes, proposals are simply destroyed and remain unsupported by all. Our nation rejects “amnesty,” but not Legalization or Registry. There is a need for a statute of limitations; our deportation laws lack this legal bar. The anti-immigration lobby insists that proposals reward those who broke the law. That is a half truth that ignores Federal responsibilities to enforce immigration laws, not merely enact laws and declare the challenge solved.
Actually, the current laws can permanently separate U.S. Citizens from their foreign spouses who overstay a visa or enter without inspection. These minor infractions remain inadequately enforced with deficit damaging grace and no new taxes. We continue to maintain an inept immigration enforcement system.
Enforcement must focus on realistic goals aimed at deporting hard core criminals. We should aid rehabilitating alcoholics and former drug addicts with their loving families and/or programs. Instead, the foreign born are too often corraled into detention centers and deported.
Immigration reform is not just a law and order issue. It is a human drama. The anti-immigration lobby successfully lobbied to severely restrict lawful family immigration visas in 1990. When those who may have lawfully immigrated gave up, entered and overstayed, or simply entered without a visa, more restrictive laws emerged. Dollars were needed, but instead Congress passed more restrictions. These laws too often barred the foreign spouses of U. S. Citizens from consular processing.
The net sum is that instead of leaving the U. S. to lawfully process immigration visas abroad, families remain unlawfully together. That is, the lawful U.S. Citizen husband and ineligle alien wife simply won’t take risks. Some claim that a so-called ‘pardon,’ known in the law as a “waiver” is available. This is dubious, since an applicant must prove that the spouse will suffer extreme hardship from the ten year separation to secure an INA 212(a)(9)(B)(v) waiver.
Efforts prove more uncertain than it seems. The mere representation of hardship is not enough. Hardship traditionally experienced by physical separation normally incurred by separation may prove insufficient. Often, proof requires an attorney and too often an attorney is not enough. Applicant must document the hardship in document form, not just verbally insist. In a nutshell, this waiver process is abnormal to an immigration system that was geared to encourage family unity.
We have an immigration system that now encourages foreigners to unlawfully remain, rather than risk divorce and separation from their spouses and children. These arguable victims would rather forgo reasonable wages or normal work, then give up their desire to be with family in the U.S. The results have proven tragic. Job site safety hazards often goes under reported until companies like the Peanut Corporation of America destroy more lives.
The immigration system remains geared to seek the most serious offenders. This means that those who have the most serious criminal convictions are prized for investigation. The rest remain in fear, stuck in limbo and arguable oblivion. The laws need not be made more harsh, where laws passed in 1996, 1990 and earlier are without the tax dollars needed to enforce more reasonable compliance. Enforcement is so inconsistent that no one knows the actual laws except immigration attorneys.
Should Napolitano act to enforce the laws and show how oppressive this can be under the Alieneage Clause of the Constitution? Should Congress simply cut the red tape and move on? Should legislators begin to provide immigration relief to the infants and children, among others, who were ferreted over the border decades ago? These infants, many of whom are now adults are without hope for immigration. The U. S. is their home, not China, Mexico, Nigeria, or Poland!
Americans lack fear of laws that penalize the children of lawbreakers. Our Constitution, among other Declarations call that “corruption of blood.” However, foreigners who were dependent on their parents are subject to a form of corruption of blood laws that our forefathers might find unconscionable. Why do we do this to these newcomers? What have they done other than minor violations left unpunished for decades? Why do we deny our nation the DREAM Act, when so many lives are experiencing a nightmare handed down to the next generation?
When I hear people use the catchy phrase, we won’t reward law breakers, I think, when will Americans learn to forgive? Even criminal offenses have statutes of limitation, but not deportation. Will we continue to blame the blameless or those who simply have fallen through the cracks? It seems unrighteous. Have the anti-immigration folks whipped up too much hysteria and ignorance about unlawful immigration? Will government of the people, by the people and for the people perish from the United States? What would Abraham Lincoln do?