Center for American Progress Action

STATEMENT: CAP Action’s Angela Kelley on Immigration Actions This Week
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP Action’s Angela Kelley on Immigration Actions This Week

President and Senate Majority Leader Point the Way Forward on Immigration Debate

The following is a statement from Angela Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, reacting to this week’s actions related to immigration policy:

"The last 48 hours exposed a ‘high-def’ contrast in approaches to addressing our nation’s immigration problems. The president and Senate Democrats laid down tracks for future solutions while House Republicans seem stuck in the era of black and white television and only discussing the failed policies of the past.

In his State of the Union address, the president called on Congress to own up to its obligation to ‘take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration.’ Consistent with CAP’s recommendations, he acknowledged that it would not be easy, but he implored Republicans and Democrats to make common cause in an effort to ‘protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.’ Senate Democrats have accepted that challenge and introduced the Reform America’s Broken Immigration System Act (S. 6) yesterday, outlining the key components of a solution.

In stark contrast, House Republicans launched the first in a series of hearings designed to promote a tried and failed ‘enforcement-only’ strategy. Step one in this regressive odyssey was yesterday’s hearing in which House Republicans called the Department of Homeland Security to task for abandoning the practice of SWAT team-style raids. Those raids succeeded in grabbling headlines, shattering local economies, and terrorizing communities, but they didn’t bring the nation closer to a solution. The counterproductive tactic was discarded with good cause.

Moreover, 20 years of experience has unequivocally debunked the basic notion behind these hearings, that enforcement alone can fix our system. Dramatic, exponential increases in resources over the last 20 years have enhanced our enforcement capacities at the border and in the interior in important ways. But that expanded enforcement without concomitant reforms has bred more systemic dysfunction. Indeed, we now have around three times more undocumented immigrants—5 percent of the workforce—than when the enforcement buildup began.

So why would House Republicans want to pursue a strategy of mass deportation when we know it would cost DHS nearly $300 billion over five years (if it were even possible, which it isn’t)? Why would they pursue such a strategy when we know that it would create a $2.6 trillion loss in cumulative GDP over 10 years (again, if even possible)? Why especially would they pursue it when a viable, practical, (previously) bipartisan alternative that would significantly advance our economic and security interests is available and on the table?

The Center for American Progress Action Fund hopes that today’s Congress will decide to solve the problems of the future rather than repeat the mistakes of the past. We hope that they heed the promising call of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to join ‘in passing legislation that secures our borders and requires those here illegally to register with the government, pay taxes, pay fines, learn English, and then go to the back of the line.’

The options are stark: Move forward or fall back. For the country’s sake, we hope the choice is progress."

To speak to immigration policy experts from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, please contact Raúl Arce-Contreras at [email protected] or 202.478.5318.