Southwest Border Security Bill is not the answer

By August 24, 2010Commentary

Houston-area immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee has serious concerns about the massive new H.R. 6080 bill recently signed into law.

President Obama’s connotation of the sprawling new Southwest Border Security Bill as a “strategic and integrated southwest border security strategy” may sound reassuring to some, but it might well be something of a misnomer, according to Houston area immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee.

With its estimated $600 million price tag, the signing into law of H.R. 6080 has been perceived as an enforcement-first step. “Hopefully colleagues on both sides of the aisle will now come together and we can pass comprehensive reform,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

But even this might be misleading. “I’m not certain if this legislation brings us any closer to what’s really needed – which is comprehensive immigration reform,” Banerjee said. “In some ways, this new law might push any meaningful decisions onto a back burner now that a lust for enforcement measures has been satiated for the time-being.”

In fact, any certainty that legislative attention may turn toward comprehensive reform may well have been considerably diminished. “The hyenas have been given their raw meat now,” Banerjee said. “Why would they suddenly change direction and chew on flesh which isn’t strictly enforcement-oriented? Without any impetus, why would comprehensive reform suddenly become our goal?”

Within the new law, and what Banerjee calls its “teeth without a mouth” approach to immigration issues, Banerjee also questions the hyperbolic designation of “emergency” to describe the urgency for the law’s funding, and also the new fee increases of $2,250 for L visas and $2,000 for H-1B employers – which, while not including all H-1B employers, will still be significant.

“Like AILA, I believe that immigration enforcement needs are legitimate, but should we keep insisting on ‘enforcement-only’ approaches while ignoring other issues?” Banerjee said, describing herself as a naysayer when it comes to enforcement to the exclusion of everything else.

A long-term solution to the immigration problem makes more sense. “Should we keep the undocumented population living in the shadows?” Banerjee asked. “Should we provide incentives for U.S. businesses to hire workers if they can help grow our economy? Shouldn’t due process and equal protection under the law be applicable to potential immigrants?”

The so-called Southwest Border Security Bill is a “politically-motivated, single-faceted, half-measure, not a real solution to our immigration woes,” Banerjee said.

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