Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13021151 (posted Feb. 11, 2013)"
Past immigration reform bills have required "operational control" of the southern border, typically defined as preventing or apprehending all unauthorized entries. Both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have questioned whether "operational control" is a realistic or meaningful goal. Even the Berlin Wall proved insufficient to prevent hundreds of people from crossing from one side to another.
How will the President and Congress ensure that any enforcement goals are clear and reasonable and that people are not kept waiting an indefinite period of years in limbo status?
The Senate's bi-partisan framework to create a common sense immigration American policy requires that specific conditions "triggers" be met before the 11 million aspiring Americans without papers can obtain green cards and ultimately citizenship. These include:
"Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required"
"To fulfill the basic governmental function of securing our borders, we will continue the increased efforts of the Border Patrol by providing them with the latest technology, infrastructure, and personnel needed to prevent, detect, and apprehend every unauthorized entrant."
In order for triggers to be effective they must have clear, reachable and objective criteria for determining when they are met. As Senator Rubio commented, the real issues at hand for Senators are 1) how do you define border security, and 2) who's going to certify when that has happened. Moving forward, there needs to be agreement on clear and reasonable enforcement goals.
Even so, the United States has already exceeded many of the enforcement benchmarks and resource allocation levels laid out in previous immigration overhaul efforts, as stated in the AILA report, Border Security: Moving Beyond Past Benchmarks. As immigration reform moves forward in 2013 our nation's leaders must reach agreement on clear and reasonable enforcement goals-American needs a better option than simply increasing spending and resources on enforcement. Any triggers included in a final package must be attainable in a reasonable period of time to ensure people are not kept waiting an indefinite period of years in limbo status.