Congress Should Not Approve a Path to Citizenship for the Nation’s 11 Million Undocumented Immigrants

COMMENTARY Immigration

Congress Should Not Approve a Path to Citizenship for the Nation’s 11 Million Undocumented Immigrants

Jul 7th, 2021 1 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Lora Ries

Director, Center for Technology Policy

Lora is Director of the Center for Technology Policy and Senior Research Fellow for Homeland Security at The Heritage Foundation.
A migrant from Colombia gets treatment from a first aid responder after turning himself over to authorities at the United States and Mexico border on May 13, 2021 in Yuma, Arizona. RINGO CHIU / AFP / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Congress should not pass legislation to legalize the millions of individuals illegally present in the United States.

Illegal immigration at the border is rising again, as migrants seek to benefit from President Biden's campaign promise of amnesty.

The Remain in Mexico program and safe third-country agreements demonstrated that enforcing our immigration laws prevents illegal immigration.

No, Congress should not pass legislation to legalize the millions of individuals illegally present in the United States. Congress has an obligation to enact and enforce laws that lead to an orderly immigration system for our sovereign nation and for the American people.

Over the past three decades, any discussion of legislation to give green cards to those here illegally has consistently triggered increases in the number of migrants from Central America, Mexico and elsewhere, inducing them to journey to the United States in the hope of obtaining green cards. Illegal immigration at the border is rising again, as migrants seek to benefit from President Biden's campaign promise of amnesty. Within just the first few weeks of the new administration, the Border Patrol is reporting more than 3,500 daily encounters, up from around 1,000 a day. These are crisis numbers—the very opposite of an orderly immigration system.

The rise shows that the Biden administration has done enough damage to border security by suspending the effective “Remain in Mexico” program and declaring an end to the safe third-country agreements with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Congress should not perpetuate or encourage even more illegal immigration by negotiating or debating a legalization program for illegal aliens in the United States.

>>> The Border Crisis Is Coming to Your Front Door

The administration claims the number of illegal residents eligible for green cards is 11 million. Yet a Yale-MIT study estimates the number to be more than 22 million. Notably, the left has purposely stymied gathering accurate data on the number of those illegal immigrants through the U.S. census and other means of data sharing. It would be the height of irresponsibility for Congress to pass amnesty legislation when it has no idea how many people are truly eligible for the benefit.

Passing amnesty in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act did not end illegal immigration. It merely generated the next cycle of illegal immigration, which has grown into numbers that dwarf the 3 million who applied under the 1986 amnesty. A new amnesty will perpetuate this cycle, rendering our immigration laws, passed by Congress, meaningless.

The Remain in Mexico program and safe third-country agreements demonstrated that enforcing our immigration laws prevents illegal immigration. Congress should build on that success, rather than repeating past, failed amnesty legislation, particularly with an unknown applicant population size and cost. Americans want law and order, not more immigration chaos.

This piece originally appeared in CQ Researcher