As the United States continues to grapple with its immigration policies, it’s clear that reform is needed. The question is what form should that reform take?
To get some answers, we’ve assembled a panel of experts. Joining us today are Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director of Florida Immigrant Coalition; Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies; and David Leopold, former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The first issue we’ll tackle is border security. What needs to be done to make sure our borders are secure? Krikorian believes that building a wall along the southern border is necessary. “We need physical barriers in certain places,” he says. “It’s not just about stopping people from coming over illegally; it’s also about deterring them from even trying.”
Rodriguez disagrees. She argues that more resources should be devoted to funding technology-based solutions like drones and sensors instead of a costly wall. “A wall won’t solve anything,” she says. “People will find ways around or through it.”
Leopold suggests that focusing on border security alone misses the point entirely: “What we need is comprehensive immigration reform,” he says. “We can’t just focus on one piece of this puzzle.”
Next up: undocumented immigrants already living in the United States. What should happen to them? Krikorian argues for mass deportation: “They broke the law by coming here illegally; they’re criminals who should be deported.”
Rodriguez takes an opposing view: “Deportation isn’t practical or humane,” she says. Instead, she advocates for creating pathways to citizenship for those who meet certain criteria such as paying taxes and passing background checks.
Leopold agrees with Rodriguez but goes a step further: “We shouldn’t just create pathways to citizenship; we need to change our whole approach,” he asserts.” We need to recognize these individuals’ contributions and create fair and equitable ways for them to become full members of our society.”
Finally, we turn to the issue of legal immigration. What changes should be made to the current system? Krikorian suggests cutting back on legal immigration altogether: “We need to prioritize American workers,” he says.
Rodriguez counters that immigrants often fill jobs that Americans don’t want or can’t do, such as working in agriculture. She suggests expanding work visas for these types of jobs.
Leopold takes a different tack, arguing for increasing the number of immigrants allowed into the country overall: “Our economy depends on a steady stream of immigrants,” he says. “We need smart policies that allow us to attract and retain talent from around the world.”
While there are clearly differing opinions among our panelists, one thing is clear: reform is needed. It’s up to lawmakers and citizens alike to come together and find solutions that work for everyone involved.