A False Choice: Mass Deportations vs. Mass Legalization

by Marguerite Telford –

WASHINGTON, DC (October 21, 2015) – The debate over what to do about the illegal population has too often been framed by supporters of amnesty as a choice between mass amnesty and mass deportations. A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies challenges this false choice and presents a real-world alternative.

The report, by William W. Chip, an international attorney and a member of the Center’s Board of Directors, divides the illegal population into three groups in order to understand the real choices we face: those who will return to their homelands voluntarily, those who will return reluctantly, and those who are legalized and allowed to remain.

Chip emphasizes that large numbers of illegal aliens return home on their own; many illegal immigrants “will voluntarily repatriate because they are homesick, cannot find a steady job, or have achieved their financial objectives.” He cites an earlier Center study which found that “during the first 5.5 years of the Obama administration the illegal alien population would have declined by approximately 2.5 million, nearly 25 percent, had the president’s truncated enforcement of our immigration laws not facilitated the arrival of an equal number.”

The “reluctant returnees” are illegal aliens who wouldn’t otherwise go home – usually because they have found the steady, gainful employment needed to put down roots – but who can be induced to do so by policies that make finding and keeping a job difficult. Rather than relying solely on the “hard-power” approach of deportations, Chip outlines an additional “soft-power” strategy. If Congress would pass the required legislation, this would involve universal use of E-Verify, the free online system already used to screen nearly half of new hires.

But in the absence of new legislation, a president could still pursue a soft-power strategy by instituting what Chip calls “G-Verify” (G standing for “government”). This would use information already in the possession of the Social Security Administration to bring about a steady reduction in the illegal workforce through measures targeting identity fraud, namely the use of false or stolen Social Security numbers to obtain employment. Chip writes “Because the G-Verify process would play out over a period of years, the great majority of unauthorized workers would have time to arrange their affairs in order to make an orderly return to their homelands.”

View the entire report at: http://cis.org/Mass-Deportations-or-Mass-Legalizations-A-False-Choice.

The report notes that some 10 million legal aliens – tourists, students, workers – enter the U.S. every three weeks, while over the same period some 10 million leave when their permission to remain here expires. If the “reluctant” illegals were incentivized to return home over a period of several years, their departure would mount to a rounding error in this normal ebb and flow of alien arrivals and departures.

Contact: Marguerite Telford
202-466-8185, mrt@cis.org

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