While I disagree with certain aspects of Jared Silverman’s op-ed (“Migrants build nations, but borders define them,” May 27), he is absolutely correct on the core message of the immigration debate: Our system is broken and our borders must be secured.
The fallacy of the approach being taken in Arizona is that legislators there believe we can enforce our way out of this problem. Effective enforcement is clearly part of the solution, but it will never end illegal immigration by itself. For example, since 1992, the budget of the border patrol has increased nine-fold, but the undocumented population has risen from roughly 3.5 million in 1990 to an estimated 11.9 million in 2008.
To solve the problem, enforcement must be coupled with a path to citizenship for the undocumented plus new approaches to legal immigration to meet the needs of American families and the U.S. economy.
Arizonans are justified in their frustration at the federal failure to fix our immigration system, but their approach cannot succeed; instead it will alienate the vitally important Latino community, who sees this law as a license for racial profiling. While the law does outlaw profiling, the Latino community is rightly concerned that local police, who now can be sued by citizens for failing to enforce the law, will find other ways to identify people they suspect to be in the country illegally under the vague “reasonable suspect” standard. They fear the police will target Arizonans based on race and accent.
We in the Jewish community are working hard to build coalitions with the Latino community to support Israel and promote services for the elderly, among many other items on our community and common agenda. For the sake of this growing alliance, and to actually solve a core national problem, Jews should reject the Arizona legislation and demand that the federal government immediately enact real bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform.
The writer is president and CEO of HIAS.