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Enforcement vs. Immigration Reform

One day after the Department of Homeland Security announced record-high deportations of illegal immigrants, ColorLines has a good story about some of the

Jul 31, 2020
One day after the Department of Homeland Security announcedrecord-high deportations of illegal immigrants, ColorLines has a good storyabout some of the problems of heavy enforcement — particularly under a system that strongly favors deportation. Framed by the story of a legal resident who was deported for telling border guards he was a citizen — he said he misspoke and told them he had a green card minutes later — the piece explains how immigrants are harmed by the harsh laws and the Obama administration’s effort to appear tough on immigration to broker a bipartisan immigration reform deal.
Shahed Hossain, who had lived legally in the U.S. for 10 years, was deported in 2007 after more than a year in a detention facility. He was stopped at the border and told guards he was a citizen before backtracking, ColorLines reported. Under the 1996 Immigration Reform and Individual Responsibility Act, it is illegal for any immigrants — even those with green cards — to claim to be citizens:
The law was intended to prevent undocumented immigrations from lying to get a job or enter the country without a visa. It wasn’t supposed to target green card holders like Hossain, but as with all of the beefed-up enforcement initiatives federal officials have launched since then, the law is a blunt tool. So Hossain was charged that day with making a false claim to U.S. citizenship. The charge triggers automatic deportation.
Since the mid-90s, the immigration removal system has become increasingly standardized to the point of removing nearly all discretion from immigration judges. While judges previously could cancel deportation based on the individual’s circumstances, current law makes it next to impossible to do so.
Judges also face a monumental number of cases: In mid-June, a record of 247,922 cases were awaiting resolution in immigration courts, according toTransactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. These cases are sometimes dealt with in mass hearings, NPR reportedin September. As programs such as Secure Communities and Operation Streamline net moreillegal immigrants, backlogs and heavy caseloads seem likely to exacerbate the problem of a conveyor-belt judicial process.
At the same time, Democrats have stepped up immigration enforcement in an effort to compromise with Republicans. But comprehensive immigration reform has yet to appear, and immigrant rights groups argue it is the only way to resolve the problems within the current immigration enforcement system:
“If we are going to be continuing to escalate what we call enforcement, or mass deportation,” says Michelle Fei, director of the Immigrant Defense Project in New York City, “many … who are coming forward to register or to get legalized might actually land in deportation. Enforcement will undercut the promise of reform. We don’t want a system that is rounding people up and deporting people without due process.”
Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke is an economist, marketing strategist, and orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience crafting compelling narratives that resonate worldwide. He holds a Journalism degree from Columbia University, an Economics background from Yale University, and a medical degree with a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina. Dexter’s insights into media, economics, and marketing shine through his prolific contributions to respected publications and advisory roles for influential organizations. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures, Dexter prioritizes patient care above all. Outside his professional pursuits, Dexter enjoys collecting vintage watches, studying ancient civilizations, learning about astronomy, and participating in charity runs.
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