November 4, 2014

November 4, 2014 | Factsheet on Immigration

An Immigration Checklist: 10 Areas of Reform that Congress Should Demand of the President

The United States immigration system is broken. While there are important reforms that Congress can make, it is essential that the executive branch first prove that it is willing to faithfully administer the current law in 10 ways:

  1. Remove all executive directives that contradict and override existing immigration laws.
    • The Obama Administration has failed to faithfully enforce our immigrations laws.
    • Through actions like “prosecutorial discretion,” the Administration has incentivized illegal behavior, undermining the rule of law and placing lives at risk.
  2. Allow agencies to enforce and apply the law without undue influence or pressure.
    • Today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other agencies are encouraged to ignore various immigration laws and turn a blind eye to certain lawbreakers, yielding serious social consequences.
    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials handling Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications receive “managerial pressure not to turn any alien applicants away,” thus undermining U.S. safety and security.
  3. Provide Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with improved infrastructure and technology to secure the border more effectively and efficiently.
    • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a responsibility to secure the border. Improving our physical fencing structure along the border to deter some foot traffic would be a step in the right direction.
    • A “virtual fence,” using existing technologies similar to those applied in Iraq and Afghanistan by our military, would provide cost-effective surveillance.
  4. Ensure appropriate judicial and administrative procedures for adjudicating and processing unlawful immigration cases in an efficient manner.
    • The U.S. system for handling unlawful immigrant cases is dysfunctional, overburdened, and hindered by bureaucratic inadequacies and political influences.
    • Absconders—aliens who have been given an immigration court date but do not show for their hearing—are a major problem for the U.S. court system. To counteract this, DHS should maximize the use of mechanisms to prevent flight risks, abandon its current “catch and release system,” and increase the use of expedited removal processes.
    • Unenforced deportation orders remain a serious problem with at least 1.2 million deportation orders issued by the Justice Department yet to be carried out by DHS.
    • All aliens convicted of criminal offenses in the U.S. should be removed immediately upon conclusion of their jail sentence—or even before.
  5. Increase enforcement against businesses that use illegal labor.
    • Increasing I-9 audits and workplace raids against employers in industries known to hire many illegal immigrants can deter such unauthorized labor.
    • Continuing to improve E-Verify—a real-time Web-based verification system run by DHS and the Social Security Administration that determines whether or not an individual is authorized to work—can encourage law-abiding companies to use this program to hire legal labor.
  6. Remain committed to citizen security and democratic governance throughout the Western Hemisphere.
    • High levels of crime, violence, and poverty exacerbated by weak and ineffective governance drive migration.
    • The Obama Administration’s implementation of the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) has been unsuccessful.
    • Defense funding cuts have directly impacted regional security efforts in Central America.
    • The Administration must lead in engaging with other nations, building better mechanisms to improve security and economic freedom in Central America and the world.
  7. Improve USCIS’s ability to handle visa applications and prevent fraud.
    • USCIS—the organization responsible for administering our legal immigration system—is cumbersome and slow. It struggles with large backlogs of various visas.
    • USCIS’s troubled modernization of its visa application system, as well as its failure to protect taxpayers from potential fraud, must be addressed.
  8. Report accurate immigration data and enforcement strategies to the American people.
    • The current Administration has used selective and manipulated immigration statistics that overstate the effectiveness of immigration enforcement under President Obama.
    • Misleading Congress and the American people is unbecoming of any Administration, and is a poor basis for making policy.
  9. Affirm and support the role of states in enforcing immigration law.
    • Various states have passed immigration laws that attempt to empower state and local officials to aid in enforcing U.S. federal immigration laws.
    • These governments have met with intense opposition from the Obama Administration even though programs like 287(g)—a program that allows state and local law enforcement officers to help enforce immigration law—were created by Congress to take advantage of local law enforcement assistance.
    • On the other hand, the Obama Administration has declined to take action against states and local governments that directly break federal immigration law, such as the federal prohibition on providing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. This should change.
  10. Verify the success of these reforms through untampered Census survey data.
    • The results of implementing these reforms should be measured with unmanipulated U.S. Census data.
    • A clear, consistent, and significant decrease in unlawful immigration must be apparent before consideration of legislative changes can begin.

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