Jeremy Beck's picture

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  by  Jeremy Beck

Joseph Chamie, the former director of the United Nations Population Division says the migrant surge is coming, whether you like it or not:

With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, mobility restrictions are expected to be gradually lifted and social and economic conditions worsening in most developing countries, including dwindling flows of remittances, a surge in migration appears to be unavoidable...

...Opinion polls in developing countries conducted before the pandemic found that large proportions of their populations, totaling more than 750 million adults, would like to permanently migrate to another country. The most desired destination country, where one in five potential migrants would like to move, is the United States, followed by Canada, Germany, France, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Effectively addressing the coming migration surge poses major challenges for governments. As the supply of potential migrants greatly exceeds the demand in developed countries, growing numbers of people are resorting to unauthorized migration, which often involves taking life threatening risks, and increasingly relying on the costly and dicey services of smugglers and traffickers....

Given that the receiving countries lack the capacity to absorb everyone who wishes to resettle there, nations must set limits and be prepared to enforce them when they are tested. Barack Obama faced a border surge, Donald Trump faced a border surge, and Joe Biden is certain to face one as well. Each of these men like to talk as if they could enforce limits without turning away good people. Obama said we could just focus on "felons, not families," Trump had his "wall" (to keep out the "bad hombres") with a "big beautiful door" (to let "the good ones" in). Biden didn't focus on immigration during his campaign but his website promises to restore the Obama-Biden administration policy "to prioritize enforcement resources on removing threats to national security and public safety, not families."

None of these men's rhetoric measures up against Barbara Jordan's simple yardstick:

"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

Jordan had four words for those who argued that unauthorized migrants should be exempt from immigration limits so long as they haven't broken any additional laws. "Let me be clear," she said, "that is not enough."

Without credible enforcement, she warned, illegal immigration would accelerate and undermine confidence in the entire immigration system.

Chamie echoes Jordan:

Once settled in the desired country, it is widely known that governments are unlikely to deport undocumented migrants unless they have committed a serious crime. And deferred action, amnesty or regularization is often offered to undocumented migrants, particularly after the passing of some years.
Next week we'll explore a decade of lax border enforcement and resultant border surges.

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Sustainability Initiative for NumbersUSA

Updated: Wed, Dec 16th 2020 @ 3:45pm EST

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