Argument: Deportation is not feasible; legalization is only option

Issue Report: Path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the US


John McCain, US Senator (R – AZ), in a May 13, 2005 press release titled “Members of Congress Introduce Comprehensive Border Security & Immigration Reform Bill [S 2611]”: “It would be impossible to identify and round up all 10 to 11 million of the current undocumented, and if we did, it would ground our nation’s economy to a halt. These millions of people are working. Aliens will not come forward to simply ‘report and deport.’ […] Anyone who thinks this goal can be achieved without providing an eventual path to a permanent legal status is not serious about solving this problem.”[1]

Michael R. Bloomberg, MBA, 108th Mayor of the City of New York, in a July 5, 2006 transcript titled “Mayor Bloomberg Testifies Before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Field Hearing on Federal Immigration Legislation,” from the City of New York Office of the Mayor’s website, offered the following: “We need to get real about the people who are now living in this country illegally – in many cases raising families and paying taxes. The idea of deporting these 11 or 12 million people – about as many as live in the entire state of Pennsylvania – is pure fantasy. Even if we wanted to, it would be physically impossible to carry out. If we attempted it – and it would be perhaps the largest round-up and deportation in world history – the social and economic consequences would be devastating. Let me ask you: Would we really want to spend billions of dollars on a round-up and deportation program that would split families in two – only to have these very same people and millions more, illegally enter our country again? Of course not. America is better than that – and smarter than that. There is only one practical solution, and it is a solution that respects the history of our nation: Offer those already here the opportunity to earn permanent status and keep their families together.”[2]

Nathan Thornburgh, Senior Editor of TIME magazine, in a June 7, 2007 TIME article titled “The Case For Amnesty”:
“Amnesty has emerged as the pariah term of the immigration debate, disavowed even by those who believe in its goals. But what are the alternatives to letting illegals stay? Deporting millions? Devising other punishments? Doing nothing at all?… Whether you fine illegal aliens or stick them in English classes or make them say a hundred Hail Marys, at the end of the day, illegals would be allowed to stay and become citizens under this bill [S. 2611]. That’s amnesty. And that’s a good thing for America. Amnesty won’t depress wages – globalization has already done that. Amnesty will not undermine the rule of law… It sounds counterintuitive, but with immigration, forgiving a crime may be the best way to restore law and order. Amnesty won’t necessarily add to the social-services burden… Amnesty would offer millions… a fighting chance at self-sufficiency and social mobility.”[3]

Tom Ridge, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in a Sep. 10, 2006 Washington Times opinion article titled “Immigration and Security”: “…the debate we are engaged in presently is a good and necessary one. However, a solution based solely on enforcement is not… The current flow of illegal immigrants and visa overstayers has made it extremely difficult for our border and interior enforcement agencies… Despite a record performance on deportations from ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] the past two years, at current rates it would take nearly 70 years to deport all of the estimated 11 million people living here illegally, even if not a single new illegal alien entered our territory. Attempting to deport everybody is neither feasible nor wise.”[4]