The immigration issue

With immigration reform becoming increasingly prominent, it’s time to evaluate and find real solutions


Graphic by John Veliz

On the road to the 2016 general election, few topics have been as hotly debated as U.S. immigration reform. The issue is dominating the media and as discussion has transpired in these past months, has even threatened to drive a wedge through the Republican Party.

Candidates and immigration
Most notably, presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed a plan to build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border. With a nearly poetic level of irony, he’s built his entire campaign around the idea of building this wall. The endeavor has received both fervent support and intense opposition (and is estimated by National Journal to cost about $6.4 billion).

It’s not the first time this kind of immigration policy has been brought up. George W. Bush passed legislation authorizing a 700-mile long border fence that cost billions and hardly stemmed the flow of immigrants during his presidency. In 2011, the Obama administration shut down efforts to build a “virtual fence” after $1 billion had already been spent.

Reviewing Trump’s plan
National security is an issue of importance to any country, but Trump’s plan is not only infeasible, but completely obsolete. According to the Pew Research Center, the amount of Mexican immigrants to the United States has been steadily decreasing for the last decade. In fact, Pew also states that there are currently more Mexicans leaving the United States than coming in (with a net outflow of 140,000 between 2009 and 2014).

If government officials are seeking a way to regulate illegal immigration, the first step is to crack down on the policies that are already in place.

Currently, individuals who overstay their work visas constitute a significant portion of illegal immigrants, largely due to a lack of enforcement throughout the country. To spend the nation’s money on building a border wall would only drain more resources away from the law enforcement agencies responsible for this regulation.

Moving away from the policies themselves, this kind of discourse is extremely detrimental to the country’s political atmosphere itself. It promotes intense xenophobia (what better way to foster an “us versus them” mentality than building a literal wall?) and has inevitably racist undertones.

Ultimately, the immigration debate has been exhausted and candidates need to move on; there simply exist too many other pressing issues presidential hopefuls need to address.