A Portrait of Dysfunction

studyIn "Report Faults Homeland Security's Efforts on Immigration," the New York Times does a good job encapsulating our current immigration disaster, citing an analysis by Migration Policy Institute:

An immigration policy group said Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security's immigration mission has been undermined by wasteful spending along the southern border, law enforcement efforts that focused on snaring illegal workers rather than high-risk criminals, and an often hostile bureaucracy that discourages people eligible for legal entry from playing by the rules.

A new report, largely a portrait of dysfunction, comes when President Obama faces increasing pressure from Hispanic groups, who played a critical role in his election, to break with the aggressive immigration enforcement strategies of the Bush administration. Those groups have called on the president to push for comprehensive legislation that balances law enforcement with the opening of new legal pathways to citizenship.

"A portrait of dysfunction" pretty much sums it up.

The article continues by citing one of the study's authors:

The report's authors offered 36 recommendations that they said would allow the new administration to deliver on its promise to make change without being forced into a politically costly fight in Congress. [...]

While many of these recommendations are vital, even imperative for the new administration to implement, we believe that comprehensive immigration reform is the only way to fix our broken immigration system.

What's more, there is a new reality when it comes to the politics of immigration reform. Even in polling done in the wake of the financial crisis this fall, the numbers show that comprehensive reform makes good political sense. Swing voters want solutions on tough issues, and Latino voters are demanding them.

The new administration should overhaul the worst of the Bush-era administrative immigration policies immediately, but they must also tackle the larger project of stabilizing the work force through cracking down on bad employers, leveling the playing field for all workers and providing a pathway for those here working without papers to get in line to become citizens. In short, they must tackle comprehensive immigration reform in a way that is smart and fair.

To not do so would mean taking a portrait of dysfunction and turning it into a legacy.

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