BALDEMAR VELASQUEZ President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO
The key problem is making felons out of everyone who is here without documents. What people miss is that includes 1.6 million children. Who thinks of this crazy stuff? These measures are just horrendous. We've taken enough bad-mouthing from these talking heads on radio and TV. If this House bill passed, I would be a criminal. And I wouldn't stop what I'm doing, so I'd be one of the first people arrested. This is no longer just an immigration issue. It is a civil rights movement now.
People forget that less than 170 years ago, the whole West was part of Mexico. Who do you think named Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Antonio? It wasn't the people who came through Ellis Island. It was us. We didn't cross any borders. The borders crossed us.
KATHLEEN NEWLAND Director and co-founder, Migration Policy Institute
A few facts are inescapable. First, the U.S. government has been throwing resources--money, staff and technology--at border control for years, and illegal immigration has done nothing but rise. It should be clear that strengthening border enforcement is not enough to bring order to our chaotic immigration system. A second fact is the enormous appetite of the U.S. economy for labor--both skilled and unskilled. Unemployment is at historic lows, but employers have very limited options for bringing in low-skilled workers legally and no practical way to verify the legal status of their hires. Expand the channels for legal entry, make it practical for employers and workers to use them, penalize those who don't--and demand-driven illegal immigration will dry up.
MARK KRIKORIAN Executive director, Center for Immigration Studies
It is not a choice between mass round-ups and expulsions on the one hand and amnesty on the other--there's a middle way, the only thing that can work, and that is attrition. Attrition through enforcement: instead of allowing the illegal population to grow every year, we start enforcing the law inside the country, something we don't do at all unless your name is Mohammed and you work inside a nuclear power plant. After we've reasserted control over the illegal population through enforcement, then we can have a debate about whether we legalize some of the people here or not. The public is already in favor of immigration enforcement. It's an élite commitment that's lacking. It's the business élite, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Media, Big Academia, who are hostile to the very concept of immigration enforcement.
GEORGE BORJAS Economist, Harvard University
The easiest way to get into the U.S. is to have a family connection here. Other countries look at things like what kind of work you do, what languages you speak, how old you are, how much education you have. All those questions would steer the kind of immigrants we get to highly skilled workers who are economically beneficial.