COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
Table of Contents
REFRAMING UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION POLICY
Simplification Through Equitable Moderation
These pages are constructed with a threefold objective: as a presentation medium for the author's above-titled thesis, as a resource outlet for prospective research and scholarly engagement, and as a public forum for discussion and debate. The contextual focal points are likewise threefold: the United States, the character of its current laws and policies concerning the in-movement of people across its geopolitical boundaries, and the imagined potential of these laws and policies with respect to a workable best-choice reform proposal.
Immigration reform has become a fashionable focus of attention in certain political and advocacy - and armchair pundit - circles over the course of the last decade. Underlying events and concepts (e.g., 9/11 and domestic recession v. multiculturalism and urban cosmopolitanism) giving rise to underlying emotional responses (e.g., security fears and xenophobia v. intrigue and positive opportunism) has fueled this focus, culminating in a number of publicly-issued reform proposals, from sophomoric to sophisticated. The White House, the Congress, the media, and the academy, as well as individually affected parties and private advocacy organizations, have entered the debate, undergirded by vast research teams and widely interested constituencies.
Unfortunately, popular interest and meaningful reform do not necessarily equate as there are a number of socio-political hurdles continually preventing consensus as to a comprehensive and workable solution. This, in part, is due to widespread political disagreements and technical misunderstandings as to the nature of the problem. Politically, a broad range of focal categories include everything from economic rationales and cultural protectionism to overpopulation and environmental degradation. Some (generally, "expansionists") view immigrants as positively contributing to the nation's economy, political demographics, cultural mix, and socio-ethical codes of behavior. Others (generally, "restrictionists") view immigrants as negatively impacting these areas of life, pointing to cases of immigrant welfare, crime, and assimilation resistance.
On a technical level, the U.S. Immigration Service (from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service to the Department of Homeland Security's current three-headed bureaucracy model) has long been criticized as inefficiently administering an inefficient, ineffective, and sometimes inhumane legislative framework. The federal court system has suffered attacks from across the political spectrum for seemingly inconsistent interpretations of existing law and arbitrary decision-making in individual cases. Intending immigrants are removed from the country without trial, nuclear family members are separated for months and sometimes years, and businesses lose productivity due to an inability to fill jobs. Horror stories abound within domestic immigrant communities and amongst intending immigrant groups abroad, stirring a generalized idea that there is less risk involved with entering the country illegally than with placing oneself at the mercy of the government's immigration management system.
Both sides of the reform debate include rational and concerned citizens, and each side makes a compelling case as rooted in personal and community experiences with migrants. However, the wide divergence in approach to the issue has rendered meaningful reform elusive. At a base level, all parties to the discussion are in agreement that the U.S. immigration system is "broken." However, this idea is both commonsensical and irrelevant to any meaningful reflection on the system and on the myriad problems revolving around it. Popularized use of reductionist speech to describe one of the most complicated swamps in historical jurisprudence is conversationally expedient and politically digestible, but it does nothing to focus the nation's collective think-tank on specific, tangible issues needing to be addressed, confronted, remedied, and resolved. Hence, the purpose of this project.
United States officialdom is the primary focal point due to the fact that the state remains current reality. For as long as the state remains the realistic arbiter of immigration issues, the author will remain fixated upon it. Therefore, existing site content does not approach the subject through a philosophical lens of world systems or similar theories. The author maintains that push-pull economic motivations remain the primary rationale underlying international migratory behaviors, and that meaningful reform dictates a focus upon same. However, this is personal idea-preference and, as the forum is created for purposes of sharpening and refining thoughts, the author warmly welcomes all viewpoints and perspectives.
Background information is provided as to the legal classifications, rights and restrictions attached to international migrants before, during and after arrival at or across the nation's borders. However, this information is potentially imperfect due to frequent changes in the regulatory implementations and judicial interpretations of current law (and to the present fact that the author is a non-lawyer). Therefore, of great importance to the forum section of the site are further discussions of these issues within a shared fact-finding objective.
Please note that the author's thesis and the site's content are both works-in-progress. In the meantime, there are two methods by which to participate in the discussion: (1) await the construction of the site's Immigration Blog, currently in planning, or (2) submit your thoughts via e-mail through the below contact link and they will be posted under an appropriate link to your left. Please feel free to browse through the site, to take advantage of the substantive pages and resource links to the left, and to increase your knowledge and sharpen your perspectives through an honest examination of other viewpoints. I look forward to your continued visits, participation, and additions to the immigration literature workshop.
Matthews Immigration Group