Herhold: Comprehensive immigration reform is a mirage – San Jose Mercury News

ver the last two weeks, America’s chattering classes have fixated on the story of Jose Antonio Vargas, a prizewinning ex-Washington Post reporter who grew up in Mountain View. In a piece in The New York Times, Vargas, 30, revealed a long-held secret: He is an illegal immigrant.

On the day that Vargas’ story ran, Democratic senators began a last brave push for “comprehensive immigration reform,” a mantra for those who want to fix the system.

The planks of this idea have always sounded solid: stiffer borders, more detailed checks of IDs by employers, and a path to citizenship for millions in this country illegally.

It’s hard to question an idea this well-meaning. But as I look at the politics of this issue, I’m convinced comprehensive immigration reform is a mirage, a flash of water in the desert.

It won’t happen because too many people have a stake in the status quo. And the effort probably won’t help Vargas.

Begin with the politicians. In tough times, undocumented immigrants offer a convenient punching bag for Republicans. In the GOP version, the “illegals” steal jobs, weaken schools, grab benefits. Reform would remove a handy cudgel against Democrats.

By the same token, Democratic politicians realize that the boom in immigrants will benefit them even without reform. With new generations trending Democratic, Arizona, Nevada and even Texas could become reliably blue states.


Fundamentally, economics speaks against reform. As long as the disparity in wages looms large between the U.S. and poorer nations, resourceful people will strive to find a way into the country. Employers seeking cheap labor won’t examine documents too closely.

Intriguingly, The New York Times reported Wednesday that a combination of forces — better education, rising border crime and smaller families — has dramatically slowed the Mexican migration to America.

But my point still holds: If you erect a 90-foot electrified barrier, or something comparable, it can’t be good for the job security of border guards or the bottom line of their SUV makers.

Even local police have an interest in preserving things as they are now. A police detective can use the threat of deportation to help crack a case.

In sum, we have a well-intentioned idea endorsed by lots of good people who face quiet but enormous opposition from powerful forces with reasons not to change anything.

It’s as if in the wake of Prohibition, we said, “We need comprehensive alcohol reform. We need to require folks to drink responsibly, punish those who don’t, and limit hard liquor.” Sensible. And unworkable.


What’s the answer? Well, first, we ought to have a clear understanding of the problem. We should understand that immigration, both legal and illegal, has brought enormous benefits to America.

Very often, the undocumented are doing work that Americans don’t want to do. They work hard, raise families, buy American goods. Our phobia about illegal immigration reflects our economic fears.

The perfect shouldn’t stall the good. “Comprehensive immigration reform” sounds like a sweeping solution. But if it hinders more modest approaches like the Dream Act, which would allow citizenship for people brought here as children — people who show drive, like Vargas — it becomes not just a mirage. It approaches folly.

via Herhold: Comprehensive immigration reform is a mirage – San Jose Mercury News.

About Saleem Mohammed
PROFESSIONAL PROFILE: I have substantial experience in Healthcare Marketing and PR, Human Resources Management, Medical Staffing, Outsourcing & Backroom Office Establishment and Management, Healthcare Account Management, and Multimedia Marketing. My recruitment experience covers nurses, therapists and other allied healthcare workers that are sourced all over US and overseas. As BDO, I brought a start-up company to its highest revenue mark, expanded its menu of services, designed & streamlined HR procedures and built effective cost-cutting measures. SPECIALTIES include, but is not limited to: Healthcare Marketing, Human Resources Management, Medical Staffing, Staffing Coordinator, Healthcare Recruitment, Account Management, Business Development, Healthcare Sales and Pricing Strategy, HR Training & Development, Career Coaching

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