AILA: Secure Fence Act Will Have Minimal Impact on Reducing Unauthorized Migration

DATE: Thursday, October 26, 2006

CONTACT: George Tzamaras

WASHINGTON, DC - Carlina Tapia-Ruano, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) called today's signing into law of the Secure Fence Act by President Bush "a simple political gesture, and a waste of taxpayers' money. This enforcement-only measure provides cover for those in Congress in need of help with their re-election prospects and only serves to mask the fact that Congress isn't dealing with immigration."

The 700-mile fence authorized by the Secure Fence Act will not even be built; as Congress has only appropriated a small fraction of the more than $7 billion it would cost to erect such a structure. The current appropriation of $1.18 billion will only fund 90 miles of fence, according to experts. "Congress and the President once again missed an opportunity to enact a comprehensive approach that was approved by the Senate last spring. That bill provided for a guest-worker program and eventual citizenship for immigrants, as well as border security," said Tapia-Ruano.

She continued, "Studies show and experts agree that the fence will have a minimal impact on reducing unauthorized migration. Not only will migrants go through, over, or under it to find jobs in the United States, but approximately 40% of undocumented immigrants enter through our legal ports of entry and remain past the expiration dates of their visas. The fence will not stop that from happening."

The proposal also fails to deal with the fact that we have 12 million people already living and working in this country without authorization. Any effective legislation must squarely address the difficult economic and social issues that drive migrants to surmount any barrier the government builds. The fact remains that our immigration laws must provide new channels to facilitate the legal entry of those coming to perform needed services in our economy and to reunite with close familiy members who already have long and deep ties here. Any meaningful and effective immigration reform must establish a new temporary worker program and create a path to citizenship for long-term, law-abiding and tax-paying immigrant workers.

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 contact George Tzamaras at 202-216-2410 or Brooke Hewson at 202-216-2435. ###

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 06102663.