A project of the Center for Community Change

Dear Mr. President: Hope and change aren’t achieved through symbolic gestures

by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

Yesterday, President Obama met with Senate Republicans to lay out a legislative agenda for immigration reform.   While this was a positive step, it’s ridiculous that he caved into fear-based Republican thinking by announcing that he will send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and request an extra $500 million to secure the Mexican border.

This effort is a symbolic gesture that will neither make the American people safer nor fix the broken immigration system.  Instead, it rewards the obstructionists who are playing on America’s misplaced fears.

The fact is that spending on border security and immigration enforcement are already at their highest levels . Demands for even more immigration enforcement as a pretext for passing comprehensive immigration reform does not make sense.  Violence and crime on the US-Mexico border has been “on the decline” in recent years. And as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said, the border is as “secure now as it has ever been.”

Why waste time, money and resources on securing a border that is already secure?

The best way to secure the border is comprehensive immigration reform.

Comprehensive immigration reform, which would include provisions for border security, would provide a realistic mechanism for future legal immigration and would generate at least $1.5 trillion in cumulative GDP over ten years.  And by creating a more flexible visa system, immigration reform would  likely allow border patrol to focus their resources on actual threats to public safety and national security instead of pursuing those who simply come to the U.S. to work and feed their families.

The President is caving to obstructionist political posturing.  The National Guard won’t make us safer.  Republicans would like us to think so but we know they are only capitalizing on the public’s misguided fear.   Only comprehensive reform will address the immigration issue.

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