+ ++ Researchers: Immigration reform should focus on families, less on security | Latina Lista
Local Stories

Researchers: Immigration reform should focus on families, less on security

Researchers: Immigration reform should focus on families, less on security

By Emilie Eaton
Cronkite News Service

NewPhoenixLogo

WASHINGTON – The Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill is a step in the right direction, but it puts too much emphasis on border security and not enough on helping families stay together, a group of researchers said Thursday.

The University of Arizona students were in Washington to discuss their six-year study that found that most people who cross the border illegally do so not for a job, but because they have family here or they consider the U.S. home.

“It’s a basic human right for U.S.-citizen children to have an intact family,” said Jeremy Slack, one of the doctoral students behind the report.

But Slack said current immigration policy fails to help those families. And fellow researcher Emily Peiffer said the reform under consideration in the Senate places too much emphasis on border security and not enough on families.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and one of the “Gang of 8″ behind the reform bill, “would strongly disagree with the notion that immigration reform places too great an emphasis on border security,” a spokeswoman said Thursday.

[caption id="attachment_24592" align="alignright" width="230"]People cross the border legally at Nogales. A recent says that many deportees who recross the border illegally do so because they have family here and consider the U.S. home. Reform needs to focus on them and not a hardened border, researchers said. (Photo by Cronkite NewsWatch) People cross the border legally at Nogales. A recent says that many deportees who recross the border illegally do so because they have family here and consider the U.S. home. Reform needs to focus on them and not a hardened border, researchers said. (Photo by Cronkite NewsWatch)[/caption]

“Sen. Flake fought hard to ensure that border security was a critical part of the bill,” and most residents along the border agree with that position, said Genevieve Rozansky, the spokeswoman.

But the researchers pointed to their study, which found that just over half of deported immigrants had U.S. family members and 22 percent had children in the U.S. Increased border protection will not deter such immigrants, they said.

“What good does it actually do to kick these people out?” Slack asked.

Among other findings, the group said its interviews with 1,113 recently deported people found that nearly 75 percent had lived or worked in the U.S. and 28 percent said their home was here. More than half planned to cross the border again, and 25 percent said they would try to cross within a week of being deported.

“Creating more opportunities to keep families together is fundamental for a functional immigration system,” the researchers wrote in the report.

But just because immigrants may have family members who are here legally, “that doesn’t justify coming to the U.S. illegally,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The person who comes here illegally is responsible, not the family that’s left behind, he said.

Phoenix immigration lawyer Regina Jefferies said many of her clients are encouraged by the immigration reform bill, saying any change in the current system is a step in the right direction.

The bill creates broader waivers and gives more discretion to judges in immigration law, Jefferies said, allowing for leniency in extreme circumstances.

Lawmakers understand that the current immigration process is broken, and the comprehensive immigration bill is testament to that, Peiffer said. Despite good intentions, however, problems remain in the legislation.

In addition to the focus on border security, Peiffer said the visa sponsorship program also needs to be fixed. Many immigrants are eligible for a visa sponsorship because they have U.S. family but are disqualified for other reasons, such as providing a false citizenship claim.

The researchers said they hope their research will guide lawmakers as they take up the bill, which is expected to be on the Senate floor next month.

“I hope it humanizes the human migration and immigration process,” Slack said.

Family ties
A six-year University of Arizona survey of people recently deported from the U.S. claims that family ties are a major reason for many who cross the border illegally. The survey of 1,113 deportees found that:

  • 51 percent had family members who were U.S. citizens.
  • 22 percent had children who were U.S. citizens.
  • 75 percent of the deportees lived or worked in the U.S.
  • The median length of their stay here was seven years.
  • 25 percent said they planned to cross the border within a week.
  • 56 percent said they planned to cross again in the future.
Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Local Stories

2_460_34a4a53b-561f-4b6a-a956-8ae7fda84a4b

SF Mission Organizers Debut Film on Alex Nieto Case

Latina ListaJanuary 5, 2016
2_453_832f7f3a-cc83-4873-abba-2825da162c90

In one West Valley community, ever-shifting demographics are changing the face of Phoenix

Latina ListaDecember 21, 2015
2_447_a4c84946-4d35-45e6-970f-2d6efb869afe

Rio Grande Valley teachers urged not to turn away students who want to join robotics teams

Latina ListaDecember 17, 2015
2_443_7727a68e-6830-450b-a2a5-0ba1ade69039

U.S. speech and debate teams dig deep for material to overcome literary void of Latino voices

Latina ListaDecember 16, 2015
2_438_1ddd421b-615c-497f-88c6-d9dd33a6cfa5

In All Cases, Oklahoma Police Find No Proof of Racial Profiling

Latina ListaDecember 15, 2015
2_433_d2b59a30-e7e7-49b8-86bc-416abab83622

Bridging a border to unite my transnational family

Latina ListaDecember 10, 2015
2_428_be76ed14-acf4-46ac-9ba8-60de992edd5c

San Diego’s Balboa Park Hosts 32 International Cottages, but Mexico is not one of them

Latina ListaDecember 9, 2015
2_424_933816bc-0b44-4f62-8503-74fc00592dca

One of Chicago’s most prolific artists, Marcos Raya, highlighted at city museum

Latina ListaDecember 8, 2015
2_418_d6650135-5378-41d7-bbc4-f01770b591a2

Young refugees who arrive at the border alone struggle in U.S.

Latina ListaDecember 7, 2015