The Washington Post (Editorial)
March 11, 2016
It is possible, or should be, to repair the United States’ dysfunctional immigration system and extend a path to citizenship or legal status to the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants while at the same time recognizing that meaningful laws and a controlled border are critical components of any stable society.
Yet by listening to the Q and A at the Democratic debate Wednesday night, one might have formed the impression that compassion vs. order amounts to an either-or proposition. To hear the candidates (mainly Bernie Sanders) and questioners, you would think borders should be absolutely permeable and deportations off the table.
You might also get the idea that in a Sanders administration, virtually any Hispanic migrant who made it over the border — certainly every child — would be indefinitely welcome in the United States. No limits, no rules, no expulsions and no rule of law. Even for those who have yearned for a sane immigration policy that allows illegal immigrants to emerge from the shadows and live normal lives — and we count ourselves in that camp — it is hard to imagine a more effective recipe for chaos and easy to imagine a flood of migrants that would soon trigger a virulent political backlash, or worse.
Donald Trump’s proposal to build a massive wall along the 2,000-mile length of the southern border is a demonstrably stupid idea — wasteful, unnecessary and self-defeating. However, a well-regulated and secure border is not a stupid idea. Nor are sensible policies that judiciously weigh asylum claims and set quotas at levels consistent with the demands of the economy and labor market.
At the debate, a Spanish-speaking questioner who recounted the sad story of her husband’s deportation tugged at the audience’s heartstrings and elicited pledges from the candidates that they would do their utmost to reunite her family. Most compassionate people would give a similar answer. But the law matters, the circumstances and facts of that particular case are relevant, and not every divided family has an absolute right to be reunified north of the border.
The problem with some of the candidates’ responses — and some of the questions — is that they presupposed that reasonable limits are somehow sinister. If no child should ever be deported, as both candidates suggested, does that also mean the gates at the border should swing open to every minor who approaches, that none has a claim better than another’s, or that Washington should encourage children and families to migrate, notwithstanding the dangers and privations to which they may fall victim along the way?
Immigration advocates have pressed for policies that approach an open border for all. That is their right. Candidates for the presidency have a different responsibility, which is to weigh competing interests and determine the nation’s best course.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com