"Illegal" Immigration and Border Security
Actually, living within the US without authorized papers is not a crime. It is a civil offense. Deportation itself is not intended as punishment, but as a method of stopping violations. Instead of being comparable to serious crimes such as assault, robbery, etc., unauthorized presence in this country is really more similar to a minor traffic violation.
It is also important to keep in mind that the laws themselves are unfair and discriminatory. It is not that unauthorized entry or presence in this country in and of itself hurts anyone, but simply that it is a violation of an unjust bureaucratic system. As Aviva Chomsky writes, "people who break immigration laws do things that are perfectly legal for others, but denied to them – like cross a border or, even more commonly, simply exist."
National Security and Crime
It is important to keep in mind a few key facts:
- No known terrorist has ever entered the United States without authorization. In fact, the vast majority of the perpetrators of September 11 had perfectly valid visas.
- Immigrants in general commit fewer crimes than US citizens.
- Closing off the border is not an effective solution to the threat of terrorism. As Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang point out, walls and harsh requirements have actually driven more and more people to avoid normal checkpoints and inspections, meaning that we have even less of an idea of who comes in and out.
- Crime has actually decreased in many states with high rates of unauthorized immigration. For instance, in Arizona, the poster child for the "danger" which unauthorized immigrants pose to the public, crime rates have been falling steadily for years.
Opponents of just, merciful reform have used a rhetoric of fear which would have us believe that undocumented immigrants are lawless criminals who prey upon our communities. Yet the truth is that most of them are people just like us, who are trying their best to create better lives for themselves and their families.