What you gonna do, Mr. Obama?

The recently released report from the Migration Policy Institute, “DHS and Immigration: Taking Stock and Correcting Course” [downloadable here], got written up in today’s NY Times.  The report outlines the current problems and abuses in the Department of Homeand Security’s immigration efforts and offer a list of policy recommendations for the current administration.

Detailing such inefficiencies as the $4 million per mile “border fence,” as well as the fear inspiring ICE raids, the report  advocates for a more humane immigration policy, one rooted in greater sensibilities regarding how unauthorized migrations work and can be curtailed.  In both its fundamental assumptions and its prescriptions for change, the report is a veritable testament to moderate and balanced policy formation (neo-liberal doctrine, for those interested).

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The report–like the government’s policies–is problematic at various points.  An assumption of  human rights as a foundational principle would have produced a report far more damning of the federal government.  It would also challenge our misguided belief that immigration is some kind of labor pressure valve we can turn on and off at will to suit our needs.  Many of the recommendations offered by the repor hinge on the use of the E-Verify system, or at least an statistically-improved version of electronic verification.  Anybody who works in the government knows such fantasies of a flawles system are just that, fantasies.  At the same time, as this report and a growing number of people of conscience recognize, any verification system is only as strong, useful and just as it inaccuracies.

Irrespective of this one report, it is clear that the time has come for the Obama administration to start the process of amending DHS’s current proactice.  more importantly, it is time to institutionalize (as best that can be done) a fair and just immigration policy whose practices meet the standards of international human rights.

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