Monday, August 25, 2008

Read On! Proposing a Solution to the Failure of the United States' Immigration Policy

(Read On! ... occasional posts on writing we're reading)

Immigration policy in the United States is in disarray. The legal regime exists in contradiction to the market realities of the U.S. job market and the effects of an increasingly globalized and integrated world. It is the search for opportunity and response to transborder economic incentives, not the desire to break the domestic laws of the United States, that draw immigrants to the United States. The legal regime and stepped-up enforcement (for example, the recent raids, including the Postville, Iowa, debacle) also contradict the civil rights and human rights ideals and laws which the United States is obligated to adhere.
The recent book by Kevin R. Johnson, Dean at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, Opening the Floodgates: Why America Needs to Rethink Its Borders and Immigration Laws, offers a calm, rational and far-seeing proposal for resolving the hornets’ nest of U.S. immigration law. Johnson analyzes the history of immigration policy in the United States, pointing to the often conflicting impulses of welcome and exclusion, racial animus, exploitation, and cruelty with which the policy is rife. He offers the provocative but well-thought out solution of opening the borders and welcoming would-be immigrants who do not offer a threat to national security and health.
Despite the apprehensions and misunderstandings regarding the potential results of implementing such a policy, Dean Johnson offers a convincing argument that his proposed solution offers the best resolution for the current immigration disaster.
In our review of the book, my colleague Maria Pabón Lopez and I, conclude:
Once the predictable partisans in the immigration debate – politicians, business and labor interests, anti immigration activists, and nativists, among others – overcome their initial distaste at the very term open border, they may over time realize that this may be the only way to fix the immigration system which all agree is broken.
I encourage everyone who cares about U.S. immigration policy and the stature of the United States to read this timely contribution to the literature.

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