Tuesday, September 13, 2011
In fifty years, how will we think of post 9/11 immigration law?
The events of 9/11 drastically changed U.S. immigration policy. Prior to 9/11, in the 1950s through the 1980s, very few laws were strictly enforced. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) was purposelly written in very vague terms. Its vagueness allowed very little enforcement of immigration laws, and even condoned employers hiring illegal immigrants. Clinton and Bush viewed lax immigration laws as a great boost to the economy - motivated foreigners searching for a better life produced more than a complacent American. In these times, many illegal immigrants lived and worked in the United States, and still many continued to cross the border without check.
However, 9/11 drastically changed immigration law. President Bush enforced laws that greatly tightened security measures. For example, the INS became part of the DHS and was given much more enforcement powers. In addition, Bush passed the Anti - terrorism Act, the Patriot Act, and the Enhanced Security and Visa Entry Reform Act (EBSVERA). Such laws gave the government extreme powers that gave them the ability to crack down on illegal immigration. Such policies pushed immigrant apprehensions to a 40-year low and immigrant removals to an all-time high; the illegal immigrant population shrunk by a staggering 1 million people.
Some argue that it is time for immigration policy changes. Such people vouch for a "Comprehensive Immigration Reform " bill (CIR), which calls for more immigrants being granted the chance to earn "legalized" status. They argue that in years down the road, we will think of the CIR bills similarly to how we now think of laws prior to the Civil-Rights movement - as ignorant and cruel to other humans.
I, however, do not know if not passing Civil Rights Laws in the 1960s can be compared to not passing the CIR bill. Clearly, times in post 9/11 call for greater security and enforcement of immigration laws. There is certainly a greater threat of terrorist attack, than threat of someone with a different skin color of gender attending one's school.
Nevertheless, it is an interesting thought to consider - in years down the road, will we look back at the post 9/11 immigration laws as warranted, or de-humanizing and cruel?