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U.S. Immigration

United States Immigration column and commentaries

NOV 2006: Hardship waiver of the two year J-1 Residency

APR 2006: Compromise Bill Emerges Despite Senate Bickering

MAR 2006: Immigration Reform: Looking beyond border patrols for answers

MAR 2003: Immigrant Visa Processing of Foreign Nurses

JAN 2003: Asylum and the Child Status Protection Act

DEC 2002: Recalculating Age for purposes of relief

NOV 2002: New relief for "Age-Out" cases

FEB 2002: Update: Child Citizenship Act of 2001

JAN 2002: Tips: Ppreparing your "B" visitor extension requests

DEC 2001: The U.S. economic downturn: How the non-immigant can weather the storm

NOV 2001: Possible immigration consequences of the events of Sep. 11, 2001

APR 2000: Business immigration

MAR 2000: Employment-based adjustment applicants

FEB 2000: INS clarifies status of H1B woker while on leave

JAN 2000: Immediate opening for nurses

DEC 1999: Practical tips in dealing with the US consulate in Manila

NOV 1999: INS Processing delays and how to live with them

OCT 1999: How to maximize your changes of obtaining a B2 tourist visa

SEP 1999: In the aftermath of  245(i) who benefits?


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MAR 16, 2006
Immigration Reform: Looking Beyond Border Patrols for Answers

By Attorneys Bruce A. Coane and James P. McCollom, Jr.,

Anyone living in Arizona or Texas or Florida knows all too well that our nation’s immigration policies have failed miserably.

Deaths in the desert, fake documents, community tensions and divided families are but a few of the symptoms of a system so hobbled and inadequate nothing short of a complete overhaul will suffice.

In Arizona alone, the numbers are chilling: More than half of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol in 2004 were picked up within Arizona. Every day, patrols find an additional 1,000 undocumented immigrants in Arizona. Many never make it here at all, dying in the sweltering heat of the desert or stuffed into the backs of horse trailers like human chattel.

The flood of illegal immigrants into the United States is hardly a new problem. Nor is it a new idea that this problem can be solved, as some have suggested, simply by stepping up border patrols and enforcement. The truth is, over the past decade, the U.S. has tripled the number of border patrol agents and quintupled the nation’s enforcement budget. All told, we have flushed more than $20 billion into attempts to plug the helplessly leak-riddled dike that is our current border control system.

The result? The number of illegal immigrants pouring into our country has risen steadily, to a mind-numbing 11 million people. Pumping more money into enforcement-only measures won’t change a thing, except the total dollar amount spent upon fruitless efforts.

Legislation that focuses exclusively upon enforcement may provide the appearance of “getting tough,” but it will do little to stop the flow of people entering the United States illegally. Likewise, attempting to round up and deport the 11 million undocumented workers already in this country would prove an impossible – and ridiculously unwise –task.

Documented and undocumented workers make up 40 percent of farming, fishing and forestry jobs in the United States; 33 percent of jobs in building and grounds maintenance; 22 percent of food preparation jobs; and 22 percent of construction jobs. Our economy relies heavily upon the contributions of these workers, who often take jobs Americans remain unwilling to take themselves.

Even if we wanted to jettison undocumented workers, the U.S. government simply doesn’t have the resources to do so. The Center for American Progress estimates it would cost roughly $206 billion to ferret them out and ship them home, roughly $41 billion per year over five years. That’s more than the total annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security.

Most Americans wouldn’t even support such measures. Even Republican voters don’t favor enforcement-only solutions, according to a recent poll taken by the Tarrance Group for the Manhattan Institute. The poll found that 72 percent of registered voters “likely” to vote Republican strongly favored a plan that combined tougher enforcement with earned legalization for all illegal immigrants.
We need a fair, orderly, controlled system of immigration that reflects our nation’s values and restores the rule of law. Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, along with a companion bill in the House sponsored by Representatives Jim Kolbe, Jeff Flake and Luis Gutierrez, provides measures that would toughen security around our nation’s borders while offering undocumented workers the opportunity to earn their way to legal status by working, paying taxes, learning English and being committed to American values.

The McCain/Kennedy plan, known as the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, would provide reforms that enhance our national security while reuniting families, some of whom have been separated for 20 years. It would help us know who is here and keep out those who mean us harm. Such reform would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods that is essential to our economy.

Now is the time for real solutions, not empty gestures and political posturing. According to the FBI, there’s another reason we need to address this issue promptly: An increasing number of those picked up by the Border Patrol are not from Mexico, but originate from “countries of interest,” that is, countries known for supporting or harboring terrorists. Tough talk may make us feel better but it does nothing to keep us safe, improve our quality of life or bolster our economy. What we need is action. It’s time to pass real comprehensive immigration reform policies that will restore order and security to our nation’s borders and to the nation at large.

Bruce A. Coane is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. The law firm of Coane & Associates has offices at 407 Lincoln Road, Suite 306, Miami Beach, Florida 33139, Tel. (786) 457-VISA (8472). The law firm website is The law firm email is James P. McCollom, Jr. is an associate attorney at the firm

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