WASHINGTON - The House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement conducted a hearing titled “ ICE Worksite Enforcement, Up to the Job?” It was the first in a series of hearings to set up the Republican-controlled House’s immigration agenda of mass deportations. As the Forum made clear, this approach is prohibitively expensive and, according the Los Angeles Times, the United States spent about $5 billion to deport 393,000 people last year.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum said, "It has been clear for years that we cannot afford an enforcement-only approach to our broken immigration system. So far, however, that’s the only approach we’re hearing from House Republicans. The L.A. Times estimated that the United States spent nearly $5 billion dollars to deport 393,000 people last year alone, a staggering cost that should give pause to every taxpayer in America. But despite overwhelming evidence that this approach is unaffordable, that is what Chairman, Texas Representative, Lamar Smith wants to pursue.
Republicans need to get serious about solving this problem and can’t simultaneously purport to be for deficit reduction while still supporting a policy of mass deportation that has proven massively expensive, inefficient, and ineffective. It would make far more sense to modernize our immigration laws for the 21st century, and reform our broken immigration system so that people who are here illegally can get right with the law and pay their fair share of taxes.
Not only is the enforcement-only approach expensive, it also costs us jobs, particularly in the Agriculture Industry. It accelerates the off-shoring of much of our food production, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of off-farm but farm-dependent U.S. jobs. Importing food and exporting jobs is not the answer; modernizing our immigration system is.
Rather than maintain the broken status quo with the same enforcement-only policy of the last decade, Congress should immediately begin debate on a comprehensive immigration solution to solve this problem once and for all. We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.
While our current enforcement system may be “relentless and effective”, as Secretary Napolitano said today at the Homeland Security Policy Institute, we believe the mass deportation strategy proposed by Republicans is expensive to our nation and harmful to our economy. Enforcement programs must be scrutinized to ensure they meet the nation’s interests, are properly managed and make good use of taxpayer dollars. Programs of mass deportation don’t meet any of these tests. It’s time for the President and Congress to work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform.