Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

Report Immigration

Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

May 17, 2019 2 min read Download Report
The Heritage Foundation

Summary

Congress and the Administration have failed to develop solutions on immigration policy that work to the benefit of all Americans. Americans know that, and they deserve real answers. Immigration is too important an issue not to get right. It is too important to be driven by partisan agendas. Immigration affects Americans in all aspects of their lives, from their security and their livelihoods to the integrity of their laws and the communities in which they live. The Heritage Foundation has developed a plan that addresses immigration and border security in a manner that keeps America free, safe, and prosperous. It rejects amnesty and open borders; secures our southern border; ends “catch and release;” combats transnational criminal networks, fraud, humanitarian abuses, and human trafficking; and restores the integrity of immigration enforcement.

Key Takeaways

Immigration policy should put the safety, security, and future prosperity of the American people first and not be driven by partisan agendas.

Those who want to be welcomed to our country should be expected to respect the rule of law, assimilate, and contribute positively to America’s future.

We need reforms to legal immigration, border security, and enforcement. Each issue should be addressed individually, not in another doomed comprehensive bill.

Congress and the Administration have failed. They have not developed solutions that work to the benefit of all Americans. Americans know that. They want real answers. Immigration is too important an issue not to get right. It is too important to be driven by partisan agendas. Immigration, after all, affects Americans in all aspects of their lives, from their security and their livelihoods to the integrity of their laws and the communities in which they live.

Four Principles that Reflect the Aspirations of All Americans:

  1. Respect the consent of the governed. There is no right to become a citizen or remain unlawfully present in the U.S.; there is no place for a policy of “open borders.”
  2. Preserve patriotic assimilation. Becoming a citizen means becoming an American. It is the bond that allows America to be a nation of immigrants and helps them prosper here.
  3. Do not compromise national security and public safety. We must know who is entering the country and have the means to screen for malicious threats and remove people who break the law or are a danger to American citizens.
  4. Respect the rule of law. It is only fair that we expect those who join our great nation—and our lawmakers—to respect its laws.

A Comprehensive Plan, Not a Comprehensive Bill

An immigration plan must be comprehensive. It must deal with all the major aspects of the immigration problem. However, all these issues cannot be dealt with at the same time. A comprehensive reform bill would subject the fate of policies with universal appeal to the fate of the most controversial topics. Rather than bundle reforms into one comprehensive package, legislation addressing each area should be debated separately, each advancing on its own merit.

The Key Elements of Reform

Reform Legal Immigration. Establish a merit-based immigration system, prioritizing economically and fiscally beneficial immigration. End arbitrary per-country caps, focusing on bringing the best qualified people to the U.S. Eliminate the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which provides tens of thousands visas annually to random individuals.

Improve Enforcement. Increase funding for immigration court judges, prosecutors, and associated staff. Adjust the asylum claim process and close legal loopholes that require government officials to release illegal immigrants based on fraudulent claims.

Secure the Border. Build a system that welds all of the nation’s border assets into a single coherent security enterprise, additions to the border wall, expanded detention space, and a temporary and efficacious use of support from the Defense Department.

Implement Commonsense Polices for Those Unlawfully Present. Do not grant amnesty or paths to citizenship, both of which encourage more unlawful migration and generally undermine the rule of law. Instead, make permission to reapply for entry to the United States contingent on significant reductions in illegal immigration. Give immigration law judges summary judgment and contempt authority.

Promote Patriotic Assimilation. Those who wish to see immigration continue must see to it that the whole edifice of victimhood, oppressor/oppressed, compensatory justice, racial preferences, and coercive diversity is dismantled.

Authors

The Heritage Foundation