A steep recession and more aggressive border enforcement
have temporarily slowed illegal immigration, but the problem is
far from fixed. As President Obama and congressional leaders
prepare to tackle immigration reform once again, they should
learn from the past and create a system that accommodates the
future needs of a recovering economy.
Even with fewer immigrants entering the country illegally, the
number already here remains at nearly 12,000,000, with an
estimated 8,000,000 in the workforce. One in twenty workers is
here without authorization. When the economy begins to grow, that number will inevitably climb again despite the United States’ best efforts to enforce the current, broken system.
Any lasting solution to the challenge of illegal immigration
must recognize the important contribution that immigration has
made and continues to make to the success of America’s freemarket economy. To succeed, comprehensive reform must
accommodate the legitimate needs of American employers to hire the workers they require to meet the demands of their customers. Reform must also address the legitimate expectation that the rule of law should be respected and that illegal immigration should be replaced by legal immigration.