AILA Disappointed by Border Fence Bill

October 2, 2006

AILA Disappointed by Border Fence Bill

WASHINGTON DC -- Over the weekend, the Senate gave final approval to legislation authorizing the construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border, almost certainly ending the possibility of a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws this term.

"How disappointing; what a huge missed opportunity this was to get immigration reform right,' said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), "especially after a session in which the Senate spent months developing, debating, negotiating, and ultimately passing a bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform package to overhaul the existing system."

Building a 700-mile fence along the southern border with Mexico will not address the systemic problems caused by illegal immigration or the conditions that make such immigration possible. Few really believe that a fence will do anything to address the underlying economic, social and law enforcement problems related to undocumented immigration. Mandating 700 miles of such fencing - and eschewing any semblance of cost-benefit analysis - is more about election-year posturing than trying to solve a thorny policy problem.

As we have said before, a fence is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem. We need to get beyond the mentality that deludes us into thinking we can enforce our way out of this problem. Undocumented immigration is a serious problem requiring an intelligent, realistic and comprehensive solution. Enforcement and reform are two sides of the same coin; you can't have one without the other. The Senate took some enormous strides in the right direction by passing a tough, but practical bill last may -- S. 2611. It is time now for House leaders to pull their heads out of the sand, to quit playing politics with this issue, and to realize that a realistic, comprehensive approach is what America needs.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

For more information please contact George Tzamaras at 202-216-2410 or Brooke Hewson at 202-216-2435.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 06100363.