Sunday, February 10, 2013

IMMIGRATION REFORM – THE RIGHT THING TO DO – BUT…. WHAT ARE THE “REAL” NUMBERS?


There can be little disagreement that Immigration Reform is timely and perhaps     long overdue. However, do we really understand the potential impact on our country and our communities if the various reform proposals become law. The contributions that newcomers to America have made in the past and would certainly continue to make in the future cannot be overstated. The often heard cliché, “we are all immigrants”, or “immigrants take jobs Americans won’t do”, and so many others, are in many respects legitimate and should not be ignored.

However, the control of the borders of the United States, and, thus, our sovereignty, cannot be left to those immigrants who would decide for themselves with their feet. Uncontrolled or unregulated immigration leaves to chance domestic and international matters for which governments are solely responsible. Certainly, governments cannot stop all illegal immigration, but they must concern themselves with out of control influxes that will disrupt designed stabilities and growth.

The government says that with Immigration Reform we are dealing with assimilating some 11 million undocumented persons in the country, the vast, vast majority of whom are law abiding and hard working.  It would seem that to an industrial country like ours with over 300 million persons, that number would be doable with proper structure and oversight and with little disruption to our way of life.

However, consider this:  What if the “real” numbers of additional immigrants to be blended into the United States were 30 million, 50 million or even 100 million newcomers?  At what point would size itself of the newcomer group provide challenges to stability and growth and indeed, to our way of life?

In fact, such is the case today. The “real” numbers of persons who would be assimilated into the United States under the proposals may be far, far greater than the government suggests.

Here’s why.  Our immigration laws (Section 201(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) presently provide for special priorities for family members of U.S. citizens living abroad to join their relatives here without regard to waiting lists. For example, the spouse, parents and unmarried children of persons who obtain legal status here and ultimately complete their path to citizenship will automatically be immediately admissible to the U.S to join. In addition, the law (Section 203(a) INA) also provides similar, but restricted privileges, to all brothers and sisters and their families of those persons, as well as to the immediate families of lawful permanent residents.

So let’s look at the “real” numbers of Immigration reform in 2013 

If we accept the figure of 11 million persons who are here and eligible to be placed on a “path to citizenship”, we must then multiply each by one spouse, two sets of parents, and two children (the average size family in Mexico and Latin America is four).  Not counting brothers and sisters, whose eligibility would be less immediate, the “real” number of persons made eligible to stay or to immediately enter the U.S. under the Immigration Reform proposals being discussed is nearly 90 million! -11 million already here, plus 77 million family members eligible to join.  Nowhere does the government in their numbers consider the “real” add-on family member numbers required under the law.

As a practical matter what do these “real” numbers mean for Immigration Reform? Perhaps only that in considering Immigration Reform, we must recognize and consider the economic dynamics of substantial population growth in cities and communities throughout the States. Perhaps more importantly, that legislative dialog in fashioning Immigration Reform should include spokespersons from various disciplines knowledgeable in areas extending beyond politics.

Ben Ferro
benferro@insideins.com