Stop enforcing border laws, say progressives

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The federal government should stop deporting illegal immigrants, and should instead create a pan-American zone where Latinos can freely migrate into the United States, says Arturo Carmona, the director of Presente.org, a grassroots Latino organization.

Polls show that Americans are in favor of letting the 11 million illegal immigrants stay, so there’s no point in deporting them, he told The Daily Caller.

Besides, the deportations are an insult to all Latinos, he suggested. “It makes no rational sense to treat a population with such indignity,” said Carmona, a longtime community activist who was picked in January 2012 to head the organization, which claims 250,000 members.

Carmona’s group doesn’t distinguish between the 11 million illegal immigrants and the 30 million legal immigrants in the country.

“Millions of immigrants [are] suffering under the boot of terrible and failed immigration policies of the past five years … [which has led to] the destruction of families of immigrants” because of deportations, said an Oct. 18 statement from Carmona’s group.

Carmona’s group is extreme, but it has the same worldview as the more prominent progressives based in Washington D.C., said Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which wants to reduce the current annual inflow of 1 million people.

“I wish [Presente.org was covered] more in the media because they’re pretty hard core… they’re more of a loose cannon and are willing to say what the [D.C.-based] progressives want, without couching it in comfortable fluff,” he told TheDC.

“I don’t think the [progressives] disagree with [Carmona] in any way,” he said.

Carmona’s demand for a halt to deportations — and therefore an end to U.S. borders — is increasingly common among far-left activists.

On Oct. 21, for example, Ali Noorani, the director of the pro-amnesty National Immigration Forum, tweeted out a link to an article in the Seattle Times that calls for a halt in the local enforcement of border laws.

“We support a King County proposal that allows local law enforcement to focus its resources on fighting crime and to stay out of enforcing civil immigration laws,” said the article, authored by “the former Snohomish County sheriff and the current interim chief of police for the largest city in King County.” Noorani’s NIF group is playing a central role in the current progressive push to increase immigration.

“Stopping deportations should be ‘Plan A’ to improve any [immigration] bill’s chance and to alleviate the suffering of those whose lives have been left in limbo,” said in a Oct. 21 op-ed in Politico by Pablo Alvarado, the executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. The Senate’s rewrite of immigration laws is opposed by “nativists … obstructions … [and] xenophobes,” said Alvarado, whose group is backing a campaign that call for green-cards to be awarded to 1.7 million people who have been deported over the last several years.

In 2011, federal agents deported 391,953 people, or a little less than three percent of the illegal population. Many deportees had committed non-immigration crimes, such as drug possession, theft or driving offenses.

The Senate immigration bill, passed in June, could boost immigration to 33 million over 10 years. Some critics say the bill would add one immigrant worker and one short-term guest-worker to the economy for every two Americans who turn 18.

Most of the inflow will be Democratic-leaning, unskilled Latin American migrants, who are eager to work in the United States, where roughly 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed.

The bill would also allow officials to give green cards to deported foreigners, and even to deportees’ family members who had never entered the United States.

Speaker John Boehner, the leader of the House GOP, says he opposes the Senate bill, but also says he’d like to pass a major immigration rewrite. However, the bill is unpopular among GOP voters, so he may block the bill by refusing to schedule any significant immigration votes.

Or, he may bring the Senate bill to the floor of the House, where it could pass with support from all Democrats and a handful of Republicans.

Carmona expects a bill to become law.

The law will also establish a “future flow” process so low-skill workers can travel from south and central America to work for employers in the United States, Carmona said.

The need for a “future flow” of workers means the United States should adopt “a more advanced and visionary approach to immigration, a more sensible and common sense approach” that it does today, he said.

A good example is set by 28-country European Union, which allows people of many nationalities to live and work wherever they want in Europe, he said.

The integrated European approach is “very imperfect, there’s a lot of questions, but the way that the United States has historically approached immigration hasn’t been a very visionary approach,” he said.

Once the House and Senate agree on an immigration bill, “any solution … needs to [include] integration” of the United States with southern countries, said Carmona.

But if the border was opened, Krikorian said, “tens of millions of people would move next year … they’d be willing to work for peanuts.”

“If I were a singe young person in Guatemala, I’d work for [bed and board] … and then see what happens. Worst comes to worst, you go back,” he said.

Initially, an open migration system would devastate working-class Americans, but pretty quickly it would undermine the job prospects for middle-class Americans and young people, he said.

Careers such as construction, nursing, and even teaching would be quickly dominated by low-wage immigrants, pushing Americans out to search for other types of jobs, he said. Currently, that process is underway is some areas, such as landscaping, janitorial and restaurant work, he said.

Carmona ended the conversation when TheDC asked him how the inflow would impact Americans and recent immigrants.

“You know, I’m not going to get in the business of these hypothetical questions,” he said. “The main question is that we have an immigration system that is broken, that [should] not just deal with the highly skilled,” he said.

When he took over Present.org, he succeeded one of the group’s co-founders, Favianna Rodriguez. “Rodriguez is a transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer. Her art and collaborative projects deal with migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence,” said a bio at her website.

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