It doesn’t take an act of Congress to fix immigration

President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who is in Washington today, held a press conference this morning. Not surprisingly, the immigration issue came up, and Obama referred again to a need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Frankly I think our elected officials, when they pontificate about the need for “comprehensive immigration reform,” are just using it as an excuse for doing nothing. “Heey, I’d love to fix the problem, but it’s gonna take cooperation from the other guys and a huge new bill …”

No, it’s not. Most of the law we need is already on the books. All the government needs to do is enforce it, and a big part of the immigration problem would be solved. We already have a law to secure the border. We already have a law against hiring illegals. Doing nothing while holding out for a totally new all-things-to-all-people law is a pathetic, political cop-out.

The applicable existing law is the “Immigration and Nationality Act.” It’s an extensive document, so I’ve dug out some of the more relevant sections:

Borders — “He [the Attorney General] shall have the power and duty to control and guard the boundaries and borders of the United States against the illegal entry of aliens and shall, in his discretion, appoint for that purpose such number of employees of the Service as to him shall appear necessary and proper.”*

Employers –“It is unlawful for a person or other entity to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien …”†

Enforcement — “Any officer or employee of the Service authorized under regulations prescribed by the Attorney General shall have power without warrant –

(1) to interrogate any alien or person believed to be an alien as to his right to be or to remain in the United States;

(2) to arrest any alien who in his presence or view is entering or attempting to enter the United States in violation of any law or regulation made in pursuance of law regulating the admission, exclusion, expulsion, or removal of aliens, or to arrest any alien in the United States, if he has reason to believe that the alien so arrested is in the United States in violation of any such law or regulation and is likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained for his arrest …

(3) within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States, to board and search for aliens any vessel within the territorial waters of the United States and any railway car, aircraft, conveyance, or vehicle, and within a distance of twenty-five miles from any such external boundary to have access to private lands, but not dwellings for the purpose of patrolling the border to prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the United States …”‡

(This latter portion appears to be the section upon which Arizona based the most controversial part of its new immigration law.)



† Title II, Chapter 8, ACT 274A – UNLAWFUL EMPLOYMENT OF ALIENS, Sec. 274A. [8 U.S.C. 1324a] (a) (1)

‡ Title II, Chapter 9, ACT 287 – POWERS OF IMMIGRATION OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, Sec. 287. [8 U.S.C. 1357] (a)

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