Though I haven’t held such a position, I imagine that being a professional advocate for immigration reform must be one of the most frustrating jobs in the world. When he was first elected in 2008, President Obama promised that it would be one of the top items on his agenda and would ideally be completed within the first two years of his presidency. During the latest campaign, both candidates actually talked about the issue far more than anyone would have thought. Prospects for action looked extremely promising — and then Newtown happened.

Our government’s lack of action on the immigration question is nothing short of completely irresponsible, and current federal policy on legal immigration to the United States severely hinders our ability to legitimately claim we have an open, yet robust, system. While it does not excuse the choices of illegal immigrants, it is truly no wonder that many who wish to become citizens think it better to do so regardless of our government’s official policy.

First, the process for those immigrants who wish to become citizens has become overly laborious and bureaucratic. Legal immigration to the United States is currently a process that can take as long as a decade to complete, a time frame few from other sectors of the world would have the endurance or ability to complete. Second, our current immigration policy generally does not account for the fact that there are many individuals, particularly from the rest of the Americas, who only desire to come to the United States to work on a temporary basis, not move here permanently. Nonetheless, our government makes little effort to adjust the number of work visas to line up with probable demand. Finally, by not taking steps to stem the inflow of illegal immigrants, our government passes on the costs in time to those who seek to enter the country legally as naturalized citizens.

Now, let me be clear about two things: While Gov. Romney’s ideas during the Republican primary concerning “self-deportation” were both politically idiotic and impractical, I have no great love for the president’s executive order directing the Justice Department to ignore deportation laws when it comes to young illegal immigrants. Nothing I have said so far ought to be controversial, and fixing these fundamental flaws in our immigration system ought to be among the first steps we take toward addressing the greater problem. That’s not just my opinion — it’s also the viewpoint of GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and liberal congressman Luis Gutiérrez, who have both been working with Senator Marco Rubio on fixing the very issues I’ve discussed.

As for the illegal immigrants already here, I haven’t the room to address what ought to be done beyond saying that fixing the legal immigration system and dealing with current illegal immigrants ought to be handled separately. I — and I think most of the American public in general — am sick of these “comprehensive,” 2,000-page plus solutions that don’t actually solve anything. What is certain is that our politicians ought to act intentionally on this issue and soon. It is still possible for America’s doors to swing wide for those who truly wish to become responsible citizens of our great nation; our leaders can begin by addressing our legal immigration system and growing the tiny amount of spine necessary to fix it.

Jeffrey Robin would love to write a comprehensive 2,000 page rebuttal to Michael Dean’s column.



While I commend my counterpart on his surprising concern for civil liberties, his reasoning behind his “thought provoking” assertions has no basis in fact and is reflective of how liberals conceive of groups in a monolithic fashion. The Right, according to his reasoning, must be in favor of tougher immigration laws because they’re all white neo-Nazi nativists — not, you know, because the system is broken and our border is porous. Believe it or not, the GOP is not all white (my last name doesn’t show it, but that includes me) and favoring a secure border does not equate with being racist.

Oh, and just because my counterpart wants to talk irony, two historical facts for you: 1) George Wallace, the Alabama governor who famously declared “segregation now, segregation forever,” and most of the other public officials who stood in the way of the Civil Rights Movement were Democrats, and 2) Fascism, by any measure, is left of center; it does not, as commonly thought, represent the far right of the political spectrum. Food for thought.