Why U.S. Immigration Policy Seldom Makes Sense

By Robert Kahn

Aug. 11, 2006

Kitty Calavita, professor of criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine, and author of three books on immigration, cites three reasons why U.S. immigration policy seldom makes sense:

  • Lawmakers have never defined what “the national interest” means in regard to immigration. Does it mean the interest of employers or the interest of employees? Or both?

  • There is a time lag, often of several years, between economic conditions that spur interest in immigration legislation and Congress’ response. By the time Congress passes legislation, economic conditions have changed. So our legislative “solutions” are always out of phase with the economic conditions they are meant to address.

  • It may not be possible to simultaneously “control our borders” and respect the Constitution and human rights.

    Until lawmakers address, or at least admit, the existence of all these problems, we are not likely to get an immigration policy that makes sense, Calavita says.

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