A sticking point in current and past immigration reform proposals has been the misguided belief that a legalization program for unauthorized immigrants cannot proceed until the border is “secure.” The immigration framework developed by the Senate “Group of 8” introduces that same sticky framework by proposing to create certain border-security benchmarks that must be met before a legalization program can begin. Not only has this not worked in the past, given that benchmarks from multiple past proposals have actually already been met, but creating a truly “secure border” actually requires a new understanding of what the problems are at the border.
No policy decision to increase border security has been effective
David Shirk, Director of the Trans-Border Institute, explains that no specific policy decision to beef up border security in the last 20 to 30 years has significantly reduced the illicit flow of drugs and people into the United States. Today, tougher border security has resulted in an increasing number of unauthorized immigrants who choose to stay in the United States rather than risk multiple, ever more arduous trips. Shirk, like Goddard, points out that tougher border security has been a boon to the sophisticated, heavily armed, trans‐national criminal organizations that specialize in moving drugs, contraband, and people across the heavily fortified border. Therefore, giving immigrants legal channels for entering and exiting the United States is key to making our border safer.