Immigration reform does not mean ending deportation

Last Sunday, a group advocating radical immigration reform held a protest at the headquarters of the Tucson Police Department.

The protesters called for an end to the deportations of those in the country illegally.

Miriam Pérez, a protester who has been in the U.S. illegally for 14 years, said. “I want to call for an end to all deportations,” according to the Arizona Daily Star.

But deportations are not the problem with the immigration system in this country — people like Pérez are the problem.

How has she been allowed to defy the laws of this country for 14 years?

This protest, the second of its kind in a month, was largely sparked by an incident in which activist Raúl Alcaraz was detained by Tucson police after he tried to prevent Border Patrol agents from arresting a man who was in the country illegally.

The Pew Research Hispanic Center estimates that there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2011. People who pay such little respect to the legitimate framework of immigration should be deported.

This country is built on immigrants — legal ones. People have been entering the U.S. legally for hundreds of years, overcoming the bureaucratic hurdles necessary to do so.

In 1980, federal and state prisons housed fewer than 9,000 undocumented immigrant criminals. Today, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, 55,000 immigrants account for one-fourth of prisoners in federal prisons. Additionally, there are about 297,000 criminal undocumented immigrants held in local and state prisons.

According to studies done by the Federation for American Immigration Reform from 2004 and 2005, undocumented immigrants cost the state of Arizona $1.03 billion a year. The cost to the state of California is almost eight times that, at $8.08 billion a year.

The states shouldn’t have to pay for anyone who is here illegally. These people should be deported.

When people think they can enter this country illegally, without repercussions, it is an insult to those who go through legal channels to live here.

The protesters seem to believe that the U.S. Border Patrol is a malevolent entity, rather than a force that is integral to maintaining the security of our border. Border protections exist for a reason. In 2012, the Pima County Sheriff Department Border Crimes Unit seized 2,278 pounds of marijuana and $10,018, and one only needs look at the continuing violence in Mexico to know that a strong presence on our border is necessary.

Yes, immigration reform is badly needed. However, ceasing deportation and forsaking the security of our borders is not the way to do it.

—David Weissman is a journalism junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions


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